Self-discipline is one hallmark of effective leaders. To become an effective everyday leader you must practice self discipline and be seen as a disciplined person. Discipline is defined as a set of systematic instructions to train a person to follow a certain code of conduct. In other words, you form a habit – a good habit. Forming a good habit is just like training your body.
The human body is a magical machine. It can be trained to become really good at anything that you wish. Activities such as exercising, learning a new language, developing a technical skill and many others can be perfected by systematic practice. If you want to become really good at something, just build a habit around the activity. All it takes is resolve, discipline and patience as you build the habit, systematically. These steps are very useful tools for parenting and bring about best results in young, impressionable minds.
The following are ten steps to building a good habit – let us take the simple example of developing an exercise regimen.
1. Set aside a certain time of the day for the exercise. Make every effort to keep that time. Also try to perform your exercise in the same place. Somehow the body absorbs the surroundings and “expects” the same time, place and regimen every day.
2. Make it very easy for yourself to move forward (eg. keep your shoes/socks, clothing, towel, ipod, all arranged ready to go).
3. Ensure that this activity blends smoothly into your daily routine. For example, you should not have to drive to the other side of the town, just to get to the gym.
4. If possible, rope in a few friends who have a similar goal. This synergy where each one pulls the other is a huge success factor in continuing the activity.
5. Set yourself small goals (remember how to eat an elephant). Small victories stitched together help achieving the bigger goal much easier.
6. Always have a bigger goal which is time bound – have a vision. For example, aim for a 5K run coming up in 6 months. This helps in counting down each day and spurs you to make the effort in building up the habit. Once achieved, the success will spur you to plan the next higher goal.
7. Find ways to break the monotony by introducing some creative variations. If running is your thing, go ahead and read about it and discuss with others to see how you can make small, fun alterations, while still continuing the regimen.
8. Bring in a bit of healthy competition amongst your friends. A challenge with a small prize (eg. the winner gets his drinks free) helps you look forward to the next practice session.
9. Permit yourself to indulge in your favorite snack or drink after the session. This helps build a certain level of expectation in the body – this expectation works towards urging you to not skip the next session.
10. Lastly, the environment (location, ambience and people) should be conducive to generating positive vibes. For example, at the gym if you make friends then the whole experience of being with them for that time of the day will increase the discipline of going to practice
You can apply this set of techniques to develop any good habit you deem necessary to improve your effectiveness. You will need to adjust some of the steps since not all steps may be applicable for every activity.
Remember, once you put everything correctly in place and begin practice, then you must be patient and stay the course. Don’t give up too soon.
Click this link to read the story of Ted Weschler’s extreme discipline and also his self-control (the second last paragraph).
This will help inspire and motivate others and they will look up to you making your job of leading the team more effective.
Do share your comments below on what other steps have worked for you in building a disciplined routine.
Chart: © Kay Leadership Academy