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Why is Discipline so Important & How Can You Develop It?

#Discipline is the one of the single most important psychological qualities that allows an individual to achieve their #potential. Discipline refers to the ability to resist temptation, understanding what is required of oneself to achieve a target that has been set and not letting anything stand in the way of reaching it.

In a sporting context, discipline might refer to the injured athlete putting in the extra hours to complete the exercises given to them by the physiotherapist in order to achieve the quickest recovery possible. Alternatively it could be the discipline to avoid alcohol and poor eating habits in the off season and maintain peak condition. Discipline is the ability to do the right thing when no one is watching, knowing no one would find out if you skipped a training session, but understanding that you would be cheating yourself and your team mates. Without discipline we are unable to achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

In order to lose weight we know what we must do, it is simple, stop eating rubbish and exercise more. But too often people don't have the discipline to say no when faced with temptation, don't have the discipline to lace up their shoes and head to the gym after a day at work. There is no use in simply saying that you want to get somewhere or achieve something. You need to want it enough that you will be disciplined when temptation strikes. Want that promotion at work? Have the discipline to put in the extra time to get it, the discipline to stay at work late on a Friday when your friends are out partying. Discipline can be seen in all walks of life from small everyday tasks to extreme #challenges. Something as simple as waking up to go to work everyday requires discipline. One could turn their alarm clock off and go back to sleep, but it is unlikely they will last in that job too long. A more extreme example of discipline might be your special forces operative on close reconnaissance having to literally live out of a hole in the floor for a week, sleeping for only 5 hours a day and shitting in a plastic bag.

Discipline can be seen for different reasons, it might be for fear of punishment or consequence's in response to a specific action or behaviour, alternatively an individual might show discipline due to the reward that will be achieved. Below is an example of each in a sporting context:

Fear of Punishment

Player won't get his phone out during his gym session for fear his coach will give him punishment in the form of burpees or laps around the gym. Whilst this is a form of discipline, it isn't the ideal, and a better form of discipline from the coach might be to send the player home and have them think about why having their phone out in the gym isn't acceptable.

Desire to Achieve/Learn

Alternatively, another player might not get his phone out during a gym session because he is 100% focused on learning from his coach and getting the most from each session as he understands the implications this could have on his/her performance on the field.

The second form of discipline is preferable as it is regulated internally maintained to due reasons of #self-development rather than avoiding form of punishment. Whether as a coach or an athlete it is important that we try to foster discipline through an understanding of why it is important and what it is going to help us achieve.


"Discipline is a learned behaviour, and whilst it is advantageous to learn the basics of discipline during childhood through good parenting we can still continually develop self-discipline throughout our life. "

Like most other things in life discipline can be developed through planning, and having a better understanding of what is required to get there; below is a sequence of steps that can help one achieve greater discipline:

1. Establish a need for discipline

Probably the most important factor in determining the likelihood of self-discipline towards something is the value it will provide you. Linking back to the athlete; as an individual with high levels of talent it is the discipline to put in the extra hours of training that will make you truly elite. By setting goals that you want to achieve that are both realistic and carry meaning you are much more likely to be disciplined.

2. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

It is essential that we are honest with ourselves when needing to be disciplined, we must have courage to accept our weaknesses (we all have them - no one is perfect!!) in order to develop a plan to change and avoid our those things that will prevent us from reaching where we want to get to. For example, this might often be the weakness of going out and partying for professional athletes, or a weakness for bad foods that will prevent optimum recovery and performance.

3. Remove Temptations

By doing our best to remove as many temptations as possible from our lives we will significantly increase our probability of being disciplined as we are reducing the need for discipline. I can give an example of this from a personal perspective; I know that if there are lots of cakes and sweet things in the house I may eat them, but by making sure I don't buy anything unhealthy at the supermarket I take away the temptation.

4. Use self-talk & visualisation to reinforce self-discipline

Both of the above can be highly effective methods of maintaining focus and resisting temptation. Whenever subjected to temptation or being mislead off your path, take a moment to remember the end goal, using positive self-talk to acknowledge the discipline you have already demonstrated. It can also be very useful to visualise yourself winning in whatever situation you aim to find yourself in.

5. Recover from setbacks effectively

We are all humans. Every one of us will give in to temptation or do something we later may regret, however it is important that we quickly put this behind us and don't dwell on these actions. Making mistakes is part of a learning process, without making mistakes we are unable to learn and come back stronger.

Thank you for reading!

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