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The Magic of Self-discipline

Discipline, paradoxically, is an excellent activator of change, but can also be an ugly agent of inertia and resistance to change. Continuing to do the same things in the same “disciplined” way, without asking the right questions, can slowly draw you into stagnation and regression. But daring to adopt new anti-conformist practices with “discipline” can transform your life magically. Self-discipline is neither a quality nor a fault. It is your use of discipline that will make the difference. Harry Truman said it so well: “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.”

Discipline creates magic. The magic of seeing magnificent results happen through seemingly banal, everyday efforts and decisions. It can be a small daily gesture that can transform your life in an unexpected way when you evaluate yourself after several iterations. How many? Let us take a mathematical example of high practical significance. If you multiply the number 1.01 by itself 365 times you will have a figure close to 37, whereas if you multiply 0.99 by itself 365 times you will have a figure close to 0. The disciplined difference, even on a scale as small as that 0.02 difference, can the morph a single unit into a very large number, or destroy your project. The choice of 365 as the number of iterations was made expressly to evoke the 365 days of the year and that there are small habits that you can adopt on a daily basis which can transform your behaviour, your serenity and induce professional, personal or social success. Several examples of bad habits come to mind, such as a cigarette a day, the daily effect of which may seem insignificant, while the progressive accumulation destroys your health. On the contrary, reading a few pages of a book every morning, or running for twenty minutes can be a transformative lever of your body and mind if you ‘stick with it’ and ‘lean into it’ for a year.

Discipline is the art of concentration in a constantly “noisy” environment. It is important to remember, indeed, that we are surrounded by many distractions constantly trying our concentration. Discipline creates regularity of actions which is able to overcome disturbances and allows you to stay focused on the essential. In ambient noise, we make ourselves believe in one essential and orient our discipline in the direction we chose. There is surely not a single essential for all, but each and everyone of us and must have their vision of what it means ‘to put your best foot forward’

In this case, discipline is not synonymous with stagnation. It must stabilize your energy, not to keep you where you are, but to keep you from getting lost in chaos. Discipline creates energy that activates tangible results and concentrates on the essential. By feedback, the latter continue to feed further discipline to do even more and better. And you will see the ever more transformative effect of discipline, because energy is self-generated. The discipline then creates the virtuous circle of motivation and exemplarity that attract others’ commitment to your work.

It is certain that being disciplined when things go well is quite simple. That said, discipline is truly magical only when it is maintained while things go wrong. Easier said than done! Maintaining your rituals and habits in a disciplined way is definitely a challenge when you are tired physically or morally, when you are surrounded by people who do not believe in you or when you are in a situation of failure. In such cases, discipline must be designed in such a way that rituals are particularly simple and accessible, but above all in such a way than we can visualise what is good in us when things go wrong!

By Farid Yandouz


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