Self-discipline for Entrepreneurs: Tome 1

“I have learnt by actual stress of imminent danger; that in the first place, self control is more indispensable than gun powder; and in the second place, persistent self control under the provocation of African travel is impossible without real heartfelt sympathy for the natives with whom one has to deal.” African explorer, Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

“I have learnt by actual stress of steady streams of problems which must be solved; that in the first place, self-discipline is more relevant than innate ability; and in the second place, consistent self-discipline under the relentless assault of impulses and alternative routes is impossible without genuine love for the pain of effort.”

Discipline is control of behavior through the use of reward and punishment or pain and pleasure cues.

Behaviour is the result of thought patterns. Thought pattern is a cause. Behaviour is a result. In this vital distinction lies the weakness in discipline from without. When someone else such as an authority figure is activating the mechanism of reward and punishment or pain and pleasure, his focus is invariably behavior i.e. the effect.

Discipline from without is only effective, if the disciplined makes the connection between the behavior (speech or action) and the thought pattern which led to the behavior; then, voluntarily decides to change the thought pattern.

Unfortunately, when effects instead of causes are punished, the disciplined might learn to restrain the action but not the thought pattern. In such cases, guess where the disciplined ends up; when the authority figure is no longer there to punish, but the thought pattern is still vibrant in the former disciplined.

What is self-discipline?

Synonyms for self-discipline include self-control and self-regulation. The term self-regulation is favoured by psychologists while self-disciplined is favoured by the professionals in pedagogy. Even though, self-control is the favoured mainstream term, I prefer the term self-discipline. The point is that these three terms refer to the same skill.

By the way, skill is proficiency (dexterity) gained through training or exercise. You will soon see that self-discipline is a skill which can the developed, improved and continuously heightened like any other skill.

Self-discipline is discipline of the self (you) by the self (you). This time there is no authority figure activating the mechanisms of reward and punishment or pain and pleasure. You are activating pain and pleasure on yourself.

An amateur of self-discipline attempts to control his actions by punishing himself when he misbehaves.

The Skilled a Self-discipline

The pro of self-discipline use a two-stepped mental process. First, you identify the undesired thought pattern which leads to inappropriate action and think of a desired thought pattern. Second, you replace the undesired thought pattern with the right thought pattern by associating pain with the undesired thoughts and pleasure with the desired thoughts.

The Seeming Quackmire of Self-Discipline
The Seeming Quackmire of Self-Discipline

Undesired thought patterns are thoughts which lead to undesired actions.

Desired thought patterns are thoughts which lead to desired actions.

This seemingly complex process gets easier with training and exercise. Enlightened training and exercise alone will make you a pro and nothing else.

What do I mean by enlightened? You have to know and understand how each thread of self-discipline weaves into the fabric of your objective.

By the way, you must have an objective or goal; else, there can be no motivation to discipline yourself. You discipline yourself because you intend to achieve a goal. The goal comes first. Self-discipline comes second.

Willpower is chisel for forming disciplines. The goal is the hammer.

Willpower is your basic tool for forming disciplines. You do not want to keep your discipline as a discipline. You want your disciplines to mature into habits. You have to nurture, develop and protect your disciplines till they become adults called habits.

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