Monday, January 24, 2011


My husband and I were having a late night discussion the other day. You know the kind, where afterward, you can't fall asleep because you're still thinking and pondering.

We were talking about a friend who has long said that he wants to write a screenplay. My husband has tried different strategies to motivate him to get started. None of which has worked. So now whenever his friend has a new screenplay idea or is reading the latest screenplay writing book, my husband says to him "Just write." {like Nike's Just Do It, right?} My husband then declared that this friend didn't have a lot of discipline in this area of his life. And I said "But he is very disciplined person." And that's where the debate began

H: How so?
M: Well, he did train to run a marathon last year. That's discipline for sure.
H: No it isn't.
M: What?! Yes it so is!
H: No it isn't because he likes running.
M: So it's only discipline if you do something with regularity that you don't like doing?
H: Uh huh.
M: Can't agree with that. I enjoy cooking. Didn't use to, but I do now. Still I have to discipline myself to find new recipes, to grocery shop for ingredients and to make the time to make them. Plus, think of the mental discipline to get through an entire 26 miles. He may like running, generally...but he still has to wake up early or otherwise make the time to run, do it no matter what the weather; eat right so his body will have the energy to do it and so on {O.K. I wasn't that eloquent at the was close to midnight.}

So, ladies, I put it to you: how do you perceive discipline? I did look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary {English geek that I am} and definition numero uno was this: "chastisement or correction undergone as a penance; self mortification." Yeah, that's just not right, although kind of fitting with husband's theory. My thinking was more along #4 : "Instruction fitting one to perform an actiivity; training" or #5 "The system of order and strict obedience to rules enforced by pupils, soldiers, or others under authority; a particular instance of this."

Just to throw more fuel into the fire, here are a few choice quotes:

“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” Roy L. Smith

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” Zig Ziglar

“Discipline is remembering what you want.” David Campbell

I'm sure you have areas of your life where you think "I'm not disciplined whatsoever." But then what about the areas where you are disciplined? Do you perceive yourself to be well-disciplined if you always clean once a week? I do! Do you perceive yourself to be well-disciplined if you pay your bills on time? I do! Do you perceive yourself to be well-disciplined if you follow any at-home routine with regularity? Because I do.

I often think of discipline in terms of another very similar word: disciple. We know the disciples loved their teacher. We also know that they didn't, couldn't actually, succeed at strictly following the commandments set forth by their teacher. They were human and flawed. But they kept trying, they kept running the race. They were disciplined.

Now, I'm off to be disciplined in my laundry room.


  1. Thank you so much for this post! I feel disciplined if I get out of my pjs. I feel very disciplined when I get the clean laundry out of the baskets before they've been sitting there for a month. (Trust me, I know they would much rather stay in the baskets, they've told me so!) I feel disciplined when I get my grocery shopping done. Why must daily tasks feel like such a hassle or chore?! And when do i get my nanny and/or housekeeper?!

  2. Melissa,
    That is an awesome post! Audrey should put this in the Top Posts tab!

    And Elle, I'm so laughing at the laundry speaking to you. I think it's the bane of my existence, and my laundry room always looks like a tornado whipped through it. Could I get a housekeeper, too?!

    Discipline - It's the application of self-control. It's self-control in action.

    I'm thinking about the screenplay-guy. Clearly he's capable, but I don't think all the gears have rotated yet on that goal. For things to happen, all the gears in our heads have to come together just right

  3. Oops, posted before I was done writing.

    I have writing fantasies, too, so I kind of sympathize with this guy. But I bet he wants it way more that I do. Right now I just want my bills paid, so writing as a profession is taking a back seat to things I can control right now.

    And there are some goals that get talked to death before any action can take place. My husband just got a new job that will allow us to move to his hometown, a beautiful mountain valley here in Wyoming, and a goal we both have had for several years. But the economy has made our home worth $10,000 less than we paid for it, and our junior-in-high-school teenager really should not move right before his senior year in high school. So, the timing's not right. But until it is, I will probably bore people to death talking about the house I want to build there some day.

    Your friend is still in the talking phase. When he's ready to sacrifice some things to make time for writing, then it will happen. There are just other things he wants more right now, but that will not make the talking phase go away, just prolong it. Good luck to him.

  4. You ALWAYS have so much wisdom... WHERE do yo come from?? I absolutely love reading your posts. I wish I had time to write all my thoughts but this is as good as it gets today. THANK YOU!!

  5. I don't agree with your hubby's difinition of discipline.

    I do know that it is something I lack in many area's of my life.

    I also know that it requires discipline to run a marathon even if you like running.

    I like Becky's difinition, "It's the application of self-control. It's self-control in action."

    Apis, I also like your thoughts at the end in regards to discipline.

    I'm going to just keep trying to acquire it in all area's of my life. As usual very well written and thought out, thanks my dear.

  6. One idea is that discipline is doing what you set out to do. Completing a task, no matter how mundane, shows that you have the character, motivation, and self-control to turn intentions into reality. You may excel in one area like faithfully keeping a journal, and at the same time struggle in other areas, like making healthy meals on a regular basis. I guess whether or not you're a "disciplined person" depends on how many aspects of your life you actually accomplish what you set out to do on a regular basis.

    And what if there's only two or three things that you can do consistently? So what! Triumph in what you CAN do, plan for things you'd LIKE to do, and implement those plans as you are able, no matter what the time frame. God's not standing there with a stop-watch. He just wants to see that we're moving in the right direction.

  7. kernal Ken(Google)January 25, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    A guy's perspective. Discipline is both a noun and a verb. First the noun.

    Discipline is knowing what is the right thing to do and then doing it that way every time, even though it may be unpleasant or inconvenient.

    Running a marathon may actually be pleasant, if it is a goal desired, but the continual training, diet, aches and pains, tedium, no matter the weather, takes discipline.

    My commanders used to tell me that they knew I ran a good outfit because my troops were doing the right things, and doing them right, even when I wasn't there. They had discipline.

    If discipline breaks down on the battlefield, you have no way to know what the unit or soldier to your left or right is doing, even though that's critical for mission success. If it breaks down at home, you have no way of knowing if your spouse has perfomed his/her expected jobs which will keep the family functioning well. The expectation of discipline is reliability.

    Now to the verb. Sometimes one must discipline those whose own self-discipline has failed.

    Woody Allen once said that 85% of life is just showing up. That may be true if life is just eating, sleeping and bodily functions; it is not true for someone who just "shows up" only to discover they have been left far behind by what used to be their peer group.

    That's why I have always opposed the "every kid gets a trophy" rule in today's sports. But if every kid must get a trophy, then the outperfoming kids should get a bigger or a second trophy. Otherwise, we are teaching our children that "social justice" will always ensure that "life is fair" and that we will "spread the wealth around." They will look back in the future and wonder why they were taught that...

    Disciplining those for who you are responsible means first—teaching them what the right thing is and how to do it successfullly and second—correcting them if and when they do it poorly, each and every time.

    That need not be harsh, but it should be consistent, until the lesson is learned and internalized.

    In 1879, General JohnSchofield told the West Point cadets:

    "The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to incite strong resentment and a desire to disobey..."

    Every Plebe at the Military Academy memorizes those thoughts, even while seeing leadership of both kinds in his/her own experience.( I just typed that from memory, 49 years from when I first learned it.)

    As parents, I believe that your children learn discipline (the right thing to do and doing it right every time) by watching you in your daily life. They also learn it when and how you must discipline them when they have gone astray.

    Discipline is an important word.

  8. I am dancing in my slippers at my laptop right now. Can I get an "amen" for the military man?!! Exactly. My teenage daughter and I go 10 rounds each day, seems like, about this issue. The "Do the Job Right" motto is not one she is willing to adopt at this point, but I keep at it. For instance, when it's her job to clean the kitchen, she is supposed to load the dishwasher, clean the big pots and pans, put things on the counter away, and wipe the counters. But if she only loads the dishwasher, she wants to say, "But I tried my best!" Bologna! There are things you didn't even try at all!!! That crummy, mediocre, lowest-denominator, sooth-everyone's-ego philosophy that is so prevalent among child-rearing and education. Drives me nuts! These kids will be adults someday, do you really want them fixing your car, the airplane you fly in, operating on your body, preparing your food at a restaurant, etc, working as your employees? Come on!

    Okay, I'll stop now.

  9. Thanks Kernal Ken for your insight into discipline. I know I am not consistent in this part: each and every time. I'm usually about 60/40 or, at best, 70/30.

  10. Dear Apis,

    Since none of us is perfect, shoot for 80/20 as the interim with 90/10 as the intended target.

    Consistency is a big part of discipline.

  11. What great thoughts. I love The Kernal!

    For some reason, I am reminded of this quote I read recently from LDS General Conference:

    "At times we may rationalize that the Lord will understand our disobedience because our special circumstances make adherence to His laws difficult, embarrassing, or even painful. However, faithful obedience, regardless of the apparent size of the task, will bring the Lord's guidance, assistance, and peace."
    -Bruce A. Carlson

    I can morph this concept in my mind very easily so that it applies to the concept of discipline. So often I just don't follow through, thinking that right now it's just too hard, I'll do better later. But consistency is what will bring peace and results. Tonight I'm thinking of this particularly in regards to my children. I need to be a better example of discipline (noun) to my children.

  12. I have been meaning to post on this for a couple of days. But I wanted to share something with you all.
    I don't know how to put this any other way. After reading this thread and all the comments I have done some thinking about myself and I have come to the conclusion that I am a very undisciplined person in EVERY aspect of my life. As much as I try to change or try to improve it's just not happening. Why? Because I lack the motivation to change or become disciplined. I know some may say that its because I have 2 young rambunctious boys and that it's all part of being a mommy and you just have to go with the flow...but I wonder when that excuse stops and turns into something else?
    So, there ya have it. I'm lazy and undisciplined..... =)

  13. Elle,
    I'm totally laughing. Yes, it's me with the weird sense of humor. But I'm not laughing "at" you, I'm laughing "with" you. Honey, we have all had those times in our lives that we look around at our house, ourselves, and our lives and go, "What am I doing?! Nothing is getting done!"

    It takes time to grow into a major life change, like having children, and get back to the level of performance we had before the change came, or even close to it. You are continually learning and growing at a level you don't notice or can't see or feel, and there are little cogs and gears turning in your head that will someday turn far enough that you will accomplish greater things than you can now. So what if you have to keep trying the same things over and over and over? So what if you dream of a clean house or fit body or whatever goal you have, and it's not coming to fruition like you hoped it was? Keep hoping, keep dreaming, keep trying, because those little cogs and wheels will turn far enough someday that you will see the results you want. Keep on the lookout for new ideas, new tips, new attitudes that will help you along your journey, and have faith that good things will come to pass.

  14. Becky. Thank you so much. That post brought tears to my eyes. It always help to hear some encouraging words and I really do appreciate it. I will try to remember to wake up each day, Thank God for this day, and take it one day at a time. Thank you again.

  15. Elle, you are so welcome. Each day really is a new day. Each day can be the day we start to turn things around, or get back on track. It reminds me of a talk I heard once where the speaker was relating a conversation he had with a young man who was complaining about how long it took to train to become a doctor. The speaker's response was to say, "The time will pass anyway. What do you want to have accomplished at the end of that time?" Forget the past, hope for the future, and face each day with a clean slate. Sure, you'll have some crummy days, even weeks or months, and you can learn from choices, the good ones and bad ones. As long as you know you have the opportunity to start fresh, I think it helps to believe we can "do hard things" (HWHL motto), and to face our days with more enthusiasm. Then in the long run, we really do accomplish more in our lives, despite our disappointments. You can do it!