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The REAL SECRET of Success

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Part of my job as an educator, motivator, coach (etc.) is to sell stuff. Kind of.

Not physical stuff (toasters, convertibles, cross-bows… although that’d be fun) but more the emotional and psychological stuff like… ideas, concepts, philosophies, strategies.

In order to get people to take action I am constantly ‘selling’ the notion that creating our best life (body, health, relationships, career, finances, happiness) is largely about decisions, attitude and personal responsibility. Most people ‘buy’ this as it’s kind of a no-brainer; not difficult to understand or accept. Although some still struggle with it.

But without doubt, the toughest ‘sale’ I ever have to make (and I make it daily) is the value (idea, notion, concept, whatever you want to call it) of discipline. When I tell people that they don’t need a pill, powder, potion, product, gadget or gizmo… they simply need some discipline in their world, they are typically disappointed.

They really want someone or something to do it (whatever it is) for them. People don’t wanna hear that achieving their goals and creating forever results is largely about discipline; they want quick, easy, painless and convenient.

Imagine having to actually work for something… that might take some self control, mental and emotional strength and discipline. And personal growth.

“Err… what’s option B?”

“C’mon Craig… discipline is such an outdated notion… what is this, 1963??… ya killin’ me… haven’t you got something a little more contemporary… perhaps some new self-help program like the ‘accelerated-learning-and-incredible-results-with-no-effort’ program… or something similar?”

Imagine turning up for day one of your new job as a sales representative, only to discover that the ‘product’ you’re selling is discipline. Bummer.

“Are you kidding me…. can’t I sell cake… or chocolate… or plasma screens…. something people actually wanna buy?”

And then to make matters worse, your boss informs you that your remuneration is commission-based. Doh! Better get a second job.

Some things are easy to sell. Donuts for example. Find some teenagers, put up a sign… bingo, you’re in business. It’s a donut-fest.

Or sports cars… find yourself a Porsche dealership, a few forty five year-old guys with
big egos, small.. self-esteems and a bunch of cash (or more likely, credit) and bingo again… ya got Boxsters driving themselves out of the showroom.

Not that I spend a lot of time trawling the web for personal development stuff, but with the little research I have done, I haven’t seen too much written on the value of discipline or it’s place in the personal development (life renovation) process.

Some, but not much. I believe it’s importance is incredibly under-rated. I’ve seen plenty on goal setting.

Lots on visualisation. Lots on attitude and ‘attraction’. And a bunch of feel-good, mindless, repetitive, you-can-do-whatever-you-set-your-mind-to.. fluff.

It seems (to me anyway) that some people (writers, speakers, experts.. etc.) are more concerned with telling people what they want to hear (what’s popular and easy to sell) than they are with telling them the truth. Me on the other hand….

So I’m gonna throw a thought up for your consideration and it’s this:

“When it comes to creating genuine, life-long positive change there is no more important ingredient than discipline (some people may also call it self-control or mental toughness).”

I’m the first to admit that creating our best life is multi-dimensional, multi-factorial process and that there are often many variables… and while things like visualisation, positive thinking, resources, knowledge, goal-setting, time management and planning … are often important ingredients in the success formula… the one non-negotiable is discipline.

All successful people have a level of discipline which separates them from the pack. This discipline influences how they think, communicate, choose, react and behave. What they do. How they live. In fact, it’s is the underlying basis of their success.

And the challenge for someone whose life is about helping people move from mediocre to amazing (teachers, coaches, motivators, writers) is that… teaching and selling the value of discipline is a tough gig! It ain’t easy. Kinda like trying to sell brussel sprouts.

“No really… I know they’re ugly, they taste horrible and they smell… but they’re so good for you.”

Discipline means dealing with our fears. It means overcoming laziness, apathy and our poor attitude. It means doing the things we don’t feel like doing (but know we need to). It means persevering when most won’t. It means doing what’s required; not what’s popular, convenient or easy.

It means creating different standards for ourselves. It means moving from procrastination to pro-activity. It means controlling our emotions (not the other way around). And too many feel-good, hand-holding, positive affirmation, self-helpers don’t wanna teach the truth of discipline because it’s not sexy enough… new enough or exciting enough.

These days the personal development consumer doesn’t wanna buy discipline; he/she wants to buy DVD’s…. or maybe another book. Self-help book number six hundred and twelve perhaps. We can visualise and focus on whatever we want all day long but if we don’t consistently apply a level of discipline to our life (our decisions, our health, our career, our spiritual life and our day-to-day behaviour)… we’ll never create or maintain amazing.

If we have everything except discipline… we won’t get there. We might experience change for a minute but we won’t create forever results. The truth is this:

Creating our amazing life is periodically a crappy, uncomfortable, messy, difficult process which requires a level of constant discipline and self-control. Yes the rewards are fantastic, the personal growth can be incredible and the learning is life-changing…. but the actual journey (where we live) requires daily discipline.

I shared this message with a twenty two year-old woman recently who told me that she preferred a life with no discipline, no rules, no limitations and lots of joy and fun. When I told her that a life with no discipline or self-control would (ultimately) lead to a life of misery she didn’t believe me.

Oh well… she’ll find out.

A common misconception is that discipline is a synonym for pain and misery. When in actual fact, discipline really equates to freedom, satisfaction, achievement, fulfilment and happiness. In my opinion some personal development programs have gotten so clever, amazing and revolutionary… that they actually miss the fundamentals.

Dale Carnegie must be turning in his grave.

People don’t wanna talk about things like discipline because it’s not Razzle Dazzle enough, it’s not 2007, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t sell DVD’s… and it doesn’t get butts on seats. People want secrets… and breakthroughs…. and new technologies and anything which means they don’t have to work hard. If you wanna waste some money, go get another DVD set.

If want results, go get some discipline. Sorry if the notion of discipline is a little boring, a little old-fashioned and a little 1963 for you… but the truth is…. it’s also a little effective.

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About Craig Harper