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How to Immediately Increase Your Self Discipline

How to Immediately Increase Your Self Discipline

After delivering a keynote speaking presentation last week a man comes up to me and asks, “Rory what could I do immediately to increase my self-discipline?”

It’s a good question, and the best answer is pretty simple but before I share the answer with you it’s valuable to understand the context of the answer.

I think this particular man, and most people in general who might ask this question, are looking for a permanent solution.

They’re looking for something they can do once that will permanently improve their self-discipline.

But that is the wrong way of thinking about it.

Success in anything is almost never the result of doing things right one time.

Success is the byproduct of doing things right consistently over periods of time.

And you will never really be successful until you actually understand that.

But that doesn’t mean the answer isn’t powerful. The answer is powerful because it’s the same answer in every situation.

So in that way it is something you can learn to do once, and then if you can get yourself to repeat that one habit consistently over time, it will bring you the success you’re looking for.

(Which, by the way, is why our core business at Southwestern Consulting is 1 on 1 coaching because we know what people really need help with is not learning one time what they need to do but rather they need help with the accountability of actually getting themselves to do the thing consistently over a long period of time.)

So back to the issue at hand. How do you immediately increase your self-discipline?

Simple: you think longer term.

Anytime you evaluate a decision in the context of what feels good here and now, you’re going to always gravitate towards doing the easiest thing.

But anytime you evaluate a decision in the context of what is going to make tomorrow better, easier, and more fruitful then you’re willingness to endure sacrifice increases.

We often think that we don’t have “enough” discipline but that is inaccurate.

We have plenty of self discipline.

It’s just that self discipline becomes dormant in the absence of a dream.

So it’s not really a matter of increasing your self discipline as much as it’s a matter of activating it.

It’s already there.

As you get clear on what you want in the future, your energy activates for what you can endure right now.

If you’re not thinking about the impacts on your future, you default to what creates the best situation right now – which is usually indulgence.

It’s not a matter of how much willpower you have.

It’s a matter of how long is your perspective.

So the permanent solution that is immediately available to you for increasing your self discipline  is to think longer term.

But you can’t just do it once. You have to do that every time you’re confronted with a decision about whether or not to be disciplined.

Which is why we at Southwestern say “success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day.”

Task Tennis: The game that is destroying customer relationships and company productivity

Responsiveness is overrated.

We say we want quicker response times.

We think we want companies, colleagues, and individuals to acknowledge our question, comment, concern or complaint more quickly.

But I think that is very rarely what we actually want.

Responsiveness in and of itself isn’t very valuable. Letting me know you’ve received my message is nice, but what really matters to me is not how long did it take you to respond but how long did it take you to “resolve?”

Today in organizations, there is way too much deflecting, delegating, reverting and redirecting instead of actual resolving.

We do it in the name of being responsive and acknowledging people quickly – which is fine. But then there is often little follow up and execution in driving that matter to a successful conclusion.

It seems we are so driven to have a zero inbox or to-do list that we are often just looking for the shortest, quickest response to get something out of our queue and back into someone else’s with little effort.

It creates a game of task tennis where we are throwing something back and forth without ever actually advancing the ball down the field.

Like tennis, the loser ends up being the one who has so much coming at them so fast they simply can’t keep up with all the people who are deflecting tasks back to them rather than taking action and getting things done.

But over the long haul you don’t want to be a deflector. You don’t want to be known as the person who says, “that’s a good idea, let’s talk about that sometime,” but then never has any intention, system, or plan of following up.

And you don’t want to be a company that quickly and generically responds to customers saying, “you’re valuable to us,” but then you don’t actually do anything to remedy the problem.

You want to develop a reputation of action. You want to be known as a person who gets things done. You want to become someone who isn’t afraid of doing the critical thinking necessary to find a creative solution and who then creates mechanisms to get those solutions enforced and implemented.

In the short term sure, it’s easier to deflect responsibility, to put the task in someone else’s court and to do whatever you have to do to get it out of your inbox.

But that gets noticed negatively.

Because that isn’t productivity. That isn’t problem solving. That isn’t creating value.  And that certainty isn’t leadership.

It also isn’t what creates results for the company, trust with employees, and advancement for you.

Don’t be a deflector. Be a doer.

Don’t just be a responder. Be a resolver.