Jim Whittaker, the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest once said, "You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself." Like Whittaker implies, the only limiting factor between success and failure is not our circumstances, but ourselves. Self-discipline is the first and foremost way we can take our life to new heights and conquer new territory.
Here are 4 Practical Tips to Mastering Yourself:
1. Start With the End in Mind
Anytime you set a worthwhile goal for yourself, self-discipline will play an intricate part in whether or not you reach it. Because of this truth, it is imperative to start your journey with the end in mind. In other words, you have to believe the goal can be accomplished before you will experience the benefits of it.
So, how would it feel to hire 10 more employees by the end of the year, get 20 pounds slimmer, or give up that troubling addiction? Anytime you set out to achieve something difficult and worthwhile, the course you set for yourself must be a response to the positive future you envision. If not, our actions will be like climbing a mountain with no summit.
2. Seek Accountability From Others
No person has ever done anything extraordinary without someone to help them along the way. Batman has Robin, Holmes has Watson, and Shrek has Donkey. As humans, we often operate at a higher level when we have someone holding us to a certain standard. It could be your boss, spouse, or a good friend. Be transparent about the goal you have set and watch people rally by your side.
If no one knows about your plan to hire more employees, lose 20 pounds or break that addiction, then the odds of seeing your goal come to pass will probably fail. Not only does accountability help hold us to a high caliber, but it gives us motivation as well as a companion on the journey.
3. If you Fail, Get Back Up
Discipline is an art, and because of this it won't be a flawless climb to the summit. Big or small, you will most likely fail at some point along the way. You must approach self-discipline with the mindset that values progress more than perfection. You must believe every day is a new day and every moment is a new moment. If you make good choices today, you have to reset your mind and do it again tomorrow. In contrast, if you fail today then you have to reset and make better decisions moving forward.
If any type of failure completely throws you off course, then all of the prior disciplined decisions you made before don't matter nearly as much. Remember, discipline is not ultimately about immediate results or even the end goal, but instead is about the maturation and self-mastery that will occur as a result.
4. Self-Discipline is a Process
Self-Discipline is not the short-term solution to a problem, agenda, or goal that you have. It is a process, and like any worthwhile adventure, it takes time. For example, Let's say that your goal is to become a better leader so that you can increase your influence in your workplace. This isn't something that can be done in a week's time. In fact, you may have to break some bad habits, practice living out the values of the company, study your field, and be ready to go the extra mile at all times. You may even mess up along the way. However, these small yet important decisions will compound to create an abundance of results that could change your life.
Contrary to what some people may think, self-discipline is much more of an art than a science. It is like climbing Mount Everest, not the hill behind your house. The ups and downs of the journey make it difficult to stay motivated, and it will require you to win the battle of your mind every day. But remember, staying disciplined and on course is a process, and trying to accomplish everything at once is not the answer.
Ultimately, discipline is not about flipping the switch from undisciplined to disciplined. It is the art of knowing what you want, and taking the necessary steps to achieve it. It not easy, comfortable or quick, but it can make a dramatic difference in your life. If you can dream it, ask for help, respond to failure, and take one day at a time, then you are on your way to climbing bigger and better mountains.