The power of discipline

By Henrylito D. Tacio

“He who lives without discipline dies without honor,” said an Icelandic proverb. George Washington, the first American president, noted: “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

In his book, The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, John C. Maxwell defines discipline as “doing what you really don’t want to do so that you can do what you really want to do.” In other words, “it’s paying the price in the little things so that you can buy the bigger thing.”

An unknown author once penned: “Discipline, like the bridle in the hand of a good rider, should exercise its influence without appearing, to do so; should be ever active, both as a support and as a restraint, yet seem to lie easily in hand. It must always be ready to check or to pull up, as occasion may require; and only when the horse is a runaway should the action of the curb be perceptible.”

Hollywood film actor and director Clint Eastwood knows this too well. “It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people’s lives,” he said.

Discipline is what separates successful people from failures. “If you want to reach your goals and dreams, you cannot do it without discipline,” said Menardo G. Jimenez Jr., senior vice-president of the retail business group of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone .

Jimenez cited the case of one of his good friends, Fred Uytengsu. “I used to see him on the baseball field when he used to coach his son’s team and I was an assistant for my son’s team. One day, I saw him wearing a shirt that said, ‘If you don’t have discipline, you don’t deserve to dream.’ No matter how harsh it may seem, the point is true.”

Jimenez further explained, “If you’re 350 pounds overweight and you’re dreaming to become the next big hunk, but you don’t have the discipline to watch what you eat, to exercise, and to make it happen, it isn’t going to happen. Don’t even bother dreaming, if you don’t have the discipline to make it a reality. You’ll just get frustrated. That’s how important discipline is in achieving success.”

“No one achieves and sustains success without discipline,” Maxwell writes in his book. Bertrand Russell agrees, “Nothing of importance is ever achieved without discipline. I feel myself sometimes not wholly in sympathy with some modern educational theorists, because I think that they underestimate the part that discipline plays. But the discipline you have in your life should be one determined by your own desires and your own needs, not put upon you by society or authority.”

You may be talented, wealthy and famous, but without discipline, you are nothing. As author H. Jackson Brown Jr. reiterated, “Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

Perhaps, the biggest stumbling block a person often faces from becoming successful in life is not other people but himself. Frederick the Great of Prussia was walking on the outskirts of Berlin when he encountered a very old man proceeding in the opposite direction. “Who are you?” Frederick asked.

“I am the king,” replied the old man. Frederick laughed, “A king! Over what kingdom do you reign?” “Over myself,” was the proud reply.

“Reining” over yourself requires personal discipline. “I’ve had more trouble with D.L. Moody than any man alive,” replied American evangelist D.L. Moody when asked by a reporter which people gave him the most trouble. And do you still remember the classic line of Jack Paar? “Looking back,” he said, “my life seems to be one long obstacle course, with me as the chief obstacle.”

In his book, Maxwell provides us this fitting illustration: During the fourteenth century in what is now known as Belgium, there lived a man named Reynald III. Reynald was a nobleman, the rightful duke over his ancestral lands, but his younger brother revolted against him and usurped him.

Reynald’s brother needed the duke out of the way, but he didn’t want to kill him. So, he came up with an ingenious plan. Because Reynald was a very large man, his brother had him put into a room with a smaller-than-average door. If Reynald would simply lose some weight, he would be allowed to leave. In fact, the usurping brother promised that if Reynald left the room, his freedom and his title would be restored.

But Reynald was not a man of discipline, and his brother knew that. Every day, the brother had trays of delicious foods delivered to his older brother’s room. And Reynald ate. In fact, instead of growing thinner, he grew fatter and fatter.

“A person lacking discipline is in a prison without bars,” Maxwell points out. “Are your habits making a prisoner of you?”

Discipline is not only for adults but for children as well. In fact, discipline should be taught first and foremost kids are still kids. The Bible urged: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Proverb 19:18). Here’s another: “Do no withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die” (Proverb 23:13).

“Discipline is demanded of the athlete to win a game,” commented Mrs. Wright W. Brooks. “Discipline is required for the captain running his ship. Discipline is needed for the pianist to practice for the concert. Only in the matter of personal conduct is the need for discipline questioned. But if parents believe standards are necessary, then discipline certainly is needed to attain them.” — £££

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