Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability. – Roy L Smith
At the end of last month, I joined 15 other young CU professionals in Crashing CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. It was a monumentally good time (it always is with the Crash Network), and like other Crashes I’ve attended, it rejuvenated my energy as well as provided me with some direction to explore.
One word came up again and again, both in Crash sessions and between the lines of others speakers’ stories: discipline. This stood out to me, because motivation won’t go anywhere without discipline to see it through. I’m going to be honest — I struggle with self-discipline. As I consider the amazing feats that people accomplish daily, I recognize that no matter how passionate or motivated I am, if I do not have the discipline to see something through as I intend, then I won’t be able to accomplish all the things I’d like to do.
Self-discipline and willpower are often considered in terms of self-denial. The act of denying one’s self and controlling one’s impulses. At first it sounds negative, but I realize that some of the impulses I’ve nurtured over the years have only served to stimulate the reward centers in my brain when I’ve switched focus from an incomplete task. How do I go about rewarding the desire to transform my ideas into reality? How, also, do I go about changing myself? I ask this, knowing that time is a concept that allows us to accept a constant series of changes, and that in consciously wishing to go in that direction (of being more self-disciplined), it’ll only really be a matter of time. After discipline, I should probably work on my patience.
There are things I’ll do in the meantime, of course. I’ve started looking for ways to practice my discipline — through baby steps. And as each step becomes one I’ve taken rather than one that I need to take, I’m feeling better about the direction I’m heading.
Useful, too, is recognizing that even people I look up to face their own struggles with discipline. We are all human, and we all face human struggles. Fortunately, in recognizing our challenges, we humans have a unique ability (a gift, really!) to learn and grow and do amazing things if only we set our minds to it.
When I consider how best to prepare for success in this task I set for myself, I realize that I’m often drawn to creating and studying artful living. This, really, could be an exercise in the Art of Intention… an opportunity to allow my purpose to drive me, and to embrace that which I can learn from a concerted focus on growth.
I invite you to share in the comments section what you look to for inspiration, or what helps you to stay disciplined in your life. Thank you.