Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

As I watched the athletes perform at the Winter Olympic Games, I could only imagine their tremendous desire, determination and dedication, not to mention commitment, enthusiasm and mental toughness.  They set goals and prepared.  They had discipline.  It’s the same in business.

It doesn’t matter whether you are pursuing success in business, sports, the arts, or life in general.  Hope is not an option.  The difference between wishing and accomplishing is discipline.

Discipline is all about setting goals, figuring out a schedule to achieve those goals, and then following your plan.

Discipline turns ability into achievement.  Dreams may get you started, but discipline keeps you going.  Talent without discipline is nothing more than wasted opportunity.

Zig Ziglar, said, “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”

I believe discipline is the difference between good and great.

John Madden, the late pro football Hall-of-Fame coach and broadcaster, said, “Discipline is knowing what you’re supposed to do and doing it as best you can…”

Most people aim to do right; they just fail to pull the trigger.  For whatever reason, they just don’t have the wherewithal to finish the job.  They lack discipline.

Good intentions aren’t enough.  People have good intentions when they set a goal to do something, but then they miss a deadline or a workout.   Suddenly it gets a lot easier to miss again – and again and again.  They don’t pay off on effort … they pay off on results.

“Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built,” said the late motivational speaker Jim Rohn.  “Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure.  Discipline is the bridge between thought and accomplishment … the glue that binds inspiration to achievement … the magic that turns financial necessity into the creation of an inspired work of art.”

He added: “Discipline is the master key that unlocks the door to wealth and happiness, culture and sophistication, high self-esteem and high accomplishment, and the accompanying feelings of pride, satisfaction and success.  Discipline will do much for you.  More importantly, though, is what it will do to you.  It will make you feel terrific about yourself.”

Whenever I eyeball a resume to staff a management job, I look for evidence of self-discipline.  As candidates have prepared themselves for past jobs, did they identify and master 3-5 key self-disciplines essential to future success?

I’m looking for specific examples beyond just showing up for work.  Did they take leadership on difficult projects that required developing new skills?  Were they flexible when original plans had to be adjusted to conform to changing needs?  Could they put ego aside when others had better ideas?  Were they able to maintain control when challenged by customers or co-workers?

Keeping focused whether things are going well is often as difficult as when glitches surface.  Self-discipline is what finishes the job.  Managers especially need to model self-discipline so that their teams observe how it’s done and can follow their example.    

And employees aren’t the only ones who see discipline in action.  Customers take notice of how organizations conduct themselves.  If they see a sloppy operation, they assume shoddy results.  If they see a well-oiled machine, their confidence in the final product increases. 

Discipline means you are prepared to do the things you don’t always want to do in order to get the results you need to get.  As difficult as that sounds, consider the alternative.  Allow yourself to take the easy way out, and that’s exactly what you will find:  the way out the door.  

Discipline isn’t optional.  It’s an investment in your future. 

A family was gathered for dinner one night when the youngest son announced that he had just enlisted in the Army.  There were audible gasps around the table, then some laughter, as his older brothers shared their disbelief that he could handle this new situation.

“Oh, come on, quit joking,” snickered one.

“You didn’t really do that, did you?” asked another.  “You would never get through basic training.”

Finally, his father spoke up. “It’s going to take a lot of discipline.  Are you ready for that?”

The new recruit looked to his mother for help, but she was just gazing at him.  When she spoke, she simply asked, “Do you really plan to make your own bed every morning?”

Mackay’s Moral:  Keep your head and heart going in the right direction and you’ll never have to worry about your feet.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.