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  • Writer's pictureWendy Jameson


I have often wondered why some people are successful and others are not. What accounts for the difference? I saw in Fast Company Magazine that two men who traveled the country for 10 years speaking with successful people found that the one thing binding them was that they trusted their instincts and blocked out the noise of disbelieving opinions. This fits with my experience, too, but I call it discipline—a disciplined mind and disciplined body (habits).

Discipline is derived from the word “disciple” which means, “to teach”. It is not synonymous with pain and punishment, as too many people have associated it. Discipline is simply staying true to what’s best for you and not allowing outside distractions to dissuade you from your goal.

A Disciplined Mind and Body is:

  • Conscious. You pay attention to (are consciously aware of) your decisions and actions. You notice when you’re thinking thoughts that sway you from your goal. You listen to your self-talk and work to change it when it drifts toward “stinkin’ thinkin’”. You know which beliefs empower you, and you use them to guide and motivate you.

  • Focused. You know what you want and you’re committed to achieving it. You’ve mentally examined where you want to go and considered how to get there. You stay true to your passion. Your vision is clear—you see it vividly in 3-D.

  • Flexible, but Prepared. You know that any plan encounters problems, and you’re prepared to deal with them. You’ve explored obstacles and considered options. You’re not so rigid in your thinking that you refuse to consider other perspectives, but you’re not so flexible that you’re always changing everything. Think of a reed that bends with the wind.

  • Positive. Your thinking generates good feelings throughout your body. You see the lesson in every challenge, and you find the positive aspect in most (if not all) situations. You can imagine something good coming from problems. You forgive yourself when you stumble. You choose a positive mental attitude, even when discouraged. You BELIEVE you can achieve your goals.

  • Active. You practice reflecting on events. You notice the effect you have on others and work to make it positive. You do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. You avoid the path of least resistance—you do the hard stuff, too. You plan, adjust and plan some more. You create an environment that supports your efforts. You surround yourself with other successful people and remove yourself from potentially harmful situations (physically and mentally). You just do it!

  • Strong. You are strong when you are most tempted away from your goals. You persevere when temptation strikes. Like a sailboat in rough water, you’ll be tossed on the seas of public opinion, tested for your fortitude, and ridiculed for your efforts, but with conviction and trust in yourself, you can persevere.

In short, a Disciplined Mind is conscious of its thinking and the significance that thinking gives to events, and a Disciplined Body does whatever it takes.

So, how does one become disciplined? Daily practice. We take small steps on a moment-by-moment basis, each one a decision based on a thought or feeling. Every moment is a choice, even though it doesn’t always seem that way—especially if we’re deeply ingrained in our habits. But each moment in time, we are given the choice of what to do with our time—what to think, what to say, what to believe, what to do. What do you choose?

Originally published in January 2006, "Mind Matters", Building Edge Magazine.

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