If I were more disciplined, I would’ve written this sooner.
And for that matter...
I'd be stronger, fitter, and healthier.
I’d have more money and more things.
I'd be further along in life.
But lately I’ve been questioning this whole discipline thing so I guess I'm right on time.
For real. I’m sick of waging war on the things standing between me and success. Those obstacles are there for a reason. I’m starting to understand the reason isn’t always to bulldoze my way through them.
I keep considering this idea that life doesn’t need to be a fight all the time.
So yeah, I’ve been talking a lot of shit about discipline lately because it’s overrated…at least the way we’re conditioned to think about it. I hear the word “discipline” and immediately think rigid habits and self-deprivation. Mind over matter. Flexing that willpower. I've lived a lot of my years with discipline as my main approach...it was fucking exhausting.
Being about that super disciplined life did have positive effects:
Discipline got me abs and a cool set of movement skills.
It got me 2 degrees and allowed me to excel in my jobs.
It earned me the respect of my peers and I gained more self-confidence.
It taught me how to handle general adulting and develop that “get-shit-done” mode.
But that’s only the half of it. The rest of the story ain't so nice…
Discipline made me a little crazy about my fitness and nutrition practices.
I rushed my learning. I spent too much time jumping through hoops and not enough time figuring my shit out.
I took my jobs way too seriously and put a ton of unnecessary pressure on myself.
I missed out on growth experiences and connections that would’ve helped me become more myself.
I created an identity around discipline and doing things the hard way. This persona garnered respect but I always felt like I had to be that person. My discipline became my prison.
Discipline is an expression of force and force needs to be applied in the right balance. In hindsight, I could’ve saved myself a lot of anxiety. All of those positives could’ve been gained with less force.
Back when I thought I knew where life was going, having the discipline to stay the course made sense. Slowly, I began to realize that I have no fucking clue where life will take me…and gripping the wheel so tightly only makes the road rougher.
Now I’m at a phase in my life where discipline doesn’t serve me like it once did. Making space has become more instrumental than applying force. There isn’t a linear path of incremental goals laid out ahead of me. My priorities are supporting people in their growth and tapping into my own creative potential. My success is dependent on my ability to express myself and communicate effectively - less force, more flow.
What does expression look like for you? Maybe it’s building a dedicated movement practice. Maybe it's putting your creative work out into the world. Whatever your expression is, you can’t discipline your way through that shit. Not in the traditional sense. Expression requires a softer discipline.
So I decided I’m rebranding discipline.
Work softly & live slowly. These are the words I keep coming back to.
To "work softly” is to bring diligence and devotion to your work. Work in such a way that the work is it’s own reward. Let go of the chase and the comparisons. Honor the current version of yourself while quietly and insistently developing your craft.
To "live slowly” means allowing patience, presence, and intention to overflow into your life. Live life with a pause button. Take time to ask questions that have no definitive answer. Let go of the need to control and micromanage everything. Trust life to unfold. As it does, savor your experiences. Continually revisit your story and stay curious about who you could, one day, become.
This might be overkill for some, but I’m a nerd for words.
These words feel good to me. They provide clarity and focus for how I want to cultivate discipline in my life. A reminder that the path to success is much different than advertised. That it doesn’t always need to be a grind.
My hope is that this prompts you to check-in with yourself. What does self-discipline look like in your life. How is it working for you?
I don’t write these e-mails to be the final word. I write them as a platform for you to start asking some different questions.
Dive a little deeper and sort it out. Get it on the page or put it in a post. Whatever, just share that shit. Go first.
I’d love to hear what you come up with. More importantly, the people in your sphere could greatly benefit from hearing your voice. Know that there is power in your voice to enhance the quality of your environment. Play your part.
No rush though. Sit with it. Work on it softly. It'll come together.