The golden rule of a highly successful and meaningful life is self-discipline. Discipline allows you to do all those things you know in your heart you should do but never feel like doing. Without self-discipline, you will not set clear goals, manage your time effectively, treat people well, persist through the tough times, care for your health or think positive thoughts.
I call the habit of self-discipline “Tough Love” because getting tough with yourself is actually a very loving gesture. By being stricter with yourself, you will begin to live life more deliberately, on your own terms rather than simply reacting to life the way a leaf floating in a stream drifts according to the flow of the current on a particular day. As I teach in one of my seminars, the tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you. The quality of your life ultimately is shaped by the quality of your choices and decisions, ones that range from the career you chose to pursue to the books you read, the time that you wake up every morning and the thoughts you think during the hours of your days. When you consistently flex your willpower by making those choices that you know are the right ones (rather than the easy ones), you take back control of your life. Effective, fulfilled people do not spend their time doing what is most convenient and comfortable. They have the courage to listen to their hearts and to do the wise thing. This habit is what makes them great.
“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” remarked essayist and thinker E. M. Gray. “He doesn’t like doing them either. But his disliking is subordinated to the strength of his purpose.” The nineteenth century English writer Thomas Henry Huxley arrived at a similar conclusion. He noted: “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.” And Aristotle made this point of wisdom in yet another way: “Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it: men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players, by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just; by doing self-disciplined acts, we come to be self-controlled, and by doing brave acts, we come to be brave.”
Excerpted from Robin Sharma’s book: “Who Will Cry When You Die”.