The Habit of Discipline

My husband and I have a friend who recently retired from the United States Army after twenty-nine years of service to our country. His next step was to become an entrepreneur. Those two environments are completely different. The military sets the objectives and defines the actions for each of its people. On the other hand, as a self-employed person, there are few constraints. We predict success for him in his brave new world, because he knows how to be disciplined – and that is half the battle.

For role models in the habit of discipline, Olympic athletes provide great inspiration. For example, in 1984 and 1988, Greg Louganis swept diving events in consecutive Olympic games. 

Years ago, there was a fascinating documentary on “muscle memory,” which focused on Greg’s diving. In preparation for competition, he spent years doing the same dives over and over and over again. I learned humans can do something physical so many times (e.g., point the toes, stretch the arms, head toward the water, etc.), that, eventually, our mind doesn’t even have to think about what we are doing. Our muscles remember.

In addition, Olympic hopefuls have to be mentally disciplined to willingly give up social, family and academic opportunities in pursuit of their goals. Otherwise, they will not achieve their goal of Olympic participation. As a result, medal-winners often “win” in other arenas requiring discipline, such as “Dancing With The Stars,” a reality show that has been won by gold-medal athletes Shawn Johnson (gymnastics), Apolo Ohno (speed skating), and others. 

Fortunately, we don’t have to give up everything else in order to be successful entrepreneurs, although it may seem that way at times. We need to keep our eye on our Objectives, making it a habit to focus on our work when it is time to work, until we have achieved our goals. 

Distractions surround us. When we plan to take a short break but call someone who shares our love of basketball, our break is likely to last longer than we intended. If we start our work day by peeking at Facebook, we may be unable to make progress. If we turn on the television to see what is happening in the outside world, the news might pull us into mental distraction we do not need.

What are your biggest distractions? What habits can you form – or change – to avoid them?

Until we meet again,

The Entrepreneur’s Friend

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The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC.   Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton.   Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.