Updated: Aug 18
Courage & Humility then Discipline
Why do we stay with what's comfortable?
How do we implement discipline?
John Irving, Atul Gawande & Angela Duckworth case studies
Its common sense but not common practice
So for those of us wanting to get better at something, we all know it takes a change in behaviour.
We discussed it takes 3 key elements – courage, humility and discipline.
So, Discipline – a big one for a lot of people – it’s all about working on the tasks and jobs that you don’t necessarily love doing, but need to get done - it’s working not just on your strengths but improving on your deficiencies.
Why do many of us stay with what’s comfortable or follow what’s exciting rather than do the work we know we need to do - even when we don’t want too?
And why is it that some people continue to grow and develop at a consistent rate while others creep along flatlining at best?
Maybe it takes too much effort and hard work OR we fear failure OR our environment acts against us such as temptation and distraction as our enthusiasm fades.
We can be brilliant planners but not very good-doers.
Becoming a better person or leader is a process, not an event. It takes constant energy, time and many iterations as we find our way forward.
Smokers trying to quit know this all too well – interestingly research suggests 2 thirds say they’d like to quit, never actually try. And those who do try, nine out of ten fail. And those who eventually quit - namely the most motivated and disciplined people, on average fail six times before succeeding.
Throughout the day there are many distractions, environments and bad habits that can take you off course and further away from your intended target.
So how do we implement discipline?
Well, it comes in the form of a new routine, system or habit. Once we have worked out what we need to change, alter or improve, then we set up a process and action it regularly.
With behaviour change what I feel, works best is an inbuilt discipline of deliberate practice which is the basis of the 10,000 hours theory of high performers.
The key is picking a specific goal and engaging in constant practice with reflection and refinement.
And this works in any field be it sports, art, business and life.
Just ask John Irving - the famous writer of books and screen – his works include ‘The world according to Garp’ and ‘The Cider House Rules’. He has dyslexia and had to read everything twice. With daily effort, he became one of the most masterful and prolific writers in history!
And then there’s Atul Gawande who is a top surgeon and says ‘people often assume that you have to have great hands to become a surgeon but it’s not true, what’s most important is practising this one difficult thing day and night for years on end’
Even the research on Spelling Bee’s from Angela Duckworth’s book ‘Grit’ mentions that deliberate practice predicted advancing to further rounds in final competition far better than any other kind of preparation.
The evidence is clear, no matter what you want to get better at doing the repetition and daily routine even when you don’t feel like it will push you towards improvement and growth.
So, if you’d like to take on the work, and change behaviour – remember the three key elements - courage, humility and discipline.
Courage to step up and get out of your comfort zone.
Humility to involve others including regular feedback and
Discipline to action it with regular repetition.
This may be common sense but it’s not common practice.
What new discipline do you need to start practicing today?
Other videos worth watching:
Humility: The 2nd step in behaviour change
Courage: The 1st step in behaviour change
Resilience & Behaviour go hand in hand: What triggers my behaviour