This is an excerpt from chapter one of my new book being published in august of 2009 entitled, “g

This is an excerpt from Chapter One of my new book being published in August of 2009 entitled, “G.U.T.S. – Gearing Up To Succeed”.

Most people (and dictionaries) would define self-discipline as self-mastery or self control, to which I heartily disagree. I’ve also heard it said  self-discipline is the regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.  Here, I will take issue with these definitions because they define the subject from the perspective which the idea of self-discipline is inextricably tied to that of improvement.  It is my contention that self-discipline is better defined by saying it is the inherent power within a person to speak or to act out of habituation with no regard to improvement or to detriment.

Seneca rightly said, “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  It follows then, by polarizing the meaning of self-discipline toward improvement only the idea of an antithesis to self-discipline; namely indiscipline is thus created.  I contend there is no such quality as indiscipline existent in mankind or in all the earth.  Being alone, there is only discipline, for all mankind employs it in their daily habits.  Is it not true that even those who society or culture label as ‘undisciplined’ are rather very disciplined in those things considered by themselves and others to be to their detriment?  For discipline is neither good or bad.  Discipline is an inherent power each of us possesses and one that no man nor even God Himself can take away except through the finality of death itself.  Discipline is God’s gift to each of us so that through its power working inherently within us we might explore the boundaries of our own personal potential.  The focus then of our development of self is not first discipline and then all other virtues, but re-focusing that inherent power (that is, discipline) to the reshaping of our habits in the pursuit of these virtues.   It is with habit that we will begin our investigation of this much sought after quality of discipline and reveal that the power which you have been seeking is already employed in every area of your life, though probably misemployed.  What follows naturally then is it is not self-discipline one should seek after, but rather one should seek after habituation that is in line with stated or intended purposes.

Dig deep; the water – goodness – is down there.  And as long as you keep digging, it will keep bubbling up.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

There are no good or bad habits.  There are only habits.  Contrary to popular belief, what causes people to label habits as good or bad is not determined by the action (habit) itself but by the stated purpose of the individual in relation to the action (habit).  For example, if I have stated my desire or intended purpose to retire by the age of 65 with a net worth of $1,000,000 yet I habitually spend what I earn and save nothing or very little, conventional thinking labels me as undisciplined with regard to financial matters, yet the reality is that I have become very disciplined in spending what I earn and saving nothing.  The distinction here is made because my habits are at odds with my stated purpose.  It is not the action of spending that is good or bad, for all mankind spends what they earn, albeit in different amounts.  It is the root habit, misaligned with my purpose, that drives me to employ my self-discipline in a wrong direction.  The reality is, I am very disciplined in spending what I earn but my discipline is misemployed and thus works against my stated or intended purpose.  It follows then that I am not undisciplined, but I am rather misdirected through unaligned habits.  It is the faculty of habit that we must seek after, not this elusive idea of gaining more self-discipline which has beguiled mankind for ages.  There is no such thing – it is a myth.  What one may label as an increase in self-discipline is really a realignment of our actions by changing a certain habit or combination of habits.  As such, self-discipline is again revealed to be inherent with no effort to attain more.

Once I made the distinction in my mind that I was not undisciplined  at all, but in fact very disciplined, but in the wrong habits in relation to where I wanted to be, my life’s results and environment began to change.  I had only to change my habits and it followed that my life would soon change as well.

For more information on organizational alignment and personal leadership please contact my office at 251-233-7671 or via email at chris@christophergergen.com. Also, visit us on the web at www.christophergergen.com.

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