This sounds like such an simple thing to say, but it is not easy. Think about it, if you want to get in shape, theoretically all you have to do is show up at the gym three or four days a week and the goal will get accomplished. The hard part isn’t doing the work once you are there at the gym, the real friction lies in the fact that you KNOW you will do the work at the gym, so you find ways to avoid going in the first place. That early morning run is easier when the whether is perfect outside, and on Saturday morning when you can do it at 8AM instead of six. There are plenty of reasons not to get out of bed and do what you need to do for yourself, and yet all of us, me included, find ways to justify sleeping in, putting it off until later, or worse yet…tomorrow.
I have news for you…tomorrow never comes. If you are falling into the habit of putting things off until tomorrow, you’ll repeat that same thing the next day as well. This is the difference between discipline and motivation; if you wait until you are motivated to do something, it will rarely happen. Most people are stoppable; any kind of friction will be too much to overcome and they will give up. Sometimes a simple “no” will suffice to get them to change their mind. If you set up a system revolving around discipline, you get shit done regardless of how you feel about it. This is not rocket science, you know this as well as I do. But you cannot know real victories, real progress or real growth without developing self discipline. In the words the great Kobe Bryant lived by:
You do not negotiate with yourself.
You make a commitment, and then you execute.
Kobe was one of the top three players in the history of the NBA, at least at the point guard position, but maybe in general. One of the amazing things about Kobe was his work ethic, he was well known for it even amongst his peers. Watch this video to hear in his own words what it really means to lead by example. There is a famous set of interviews about the “Dream Team” which was the collective NBA players who were tapped to be on the US Olympic team, and there were two things that caught my attention. The first was Kobe telling everyone in the huddle right before the semi-final match up against Spain was about to take place. Kobe knew what the first play that Spain would run to start the game would be, and he said he was “going to run right through Pao Gasol” on this play. And he did…if you watch the video, you can hear the collision. Here is the kicker…in the NBA, Kobe and Pao are teammates on the LA Lakers, but in this instance, Pao is just another opponent. Kobe made that abundantly clear on the first play of the game. He was here to win, end of story.
But the other thing that I learned from the video interviews I watched was not too surprising but it spoke volumes. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and many other players would all get dressed up and go out to the clubs a couple of nights a week, despite being in the final stages of preparation for the Olympics. But not Kobe, he was there to work. One night when the guys were getting back to the hotel at 4:30AM after a long night of partying, Kobe was in the lobby in his workout gear headed to the gym. They all looked at him like he was crazy, they were stunned. But some of them recognized that this is how you go from great to the best of the best. By the end of the week, several of the guys were also getting up early and hitting the gym before breakfast, then going to practice. He raised the bar for everyone, and a few out of this already very elite group were able to keep pace. Some did not, and coincidentally I don’t remember their names…
Winners are not feelings-driven, they are process driven. There s a huge difference.
I understand that Kobe is a man who lived in rarified air because of his extreme levels of discipline, and I am not professing that you need to go to this level to achieve your own goals. Unless of course that your goals can be defined as “greatness” as well, then there is no other way. You HAVE TO follow this model. Read RELENTLESS by Tim Grover, who was the fitness coach for Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade and other very successful athletes. This will shed some light on the maniacal approach it takes to be the very best of the very best. Phenomenal read, I highly recommend it.
Anyway…back to you. All you need to do is show up. Yes, if you can commit to getting to the gym three days a week and actually do it, the rest is easy. If you don’t know how to really work out properly, get a personal trainer for a short time and learn the ropes. But the hard part is showing up. Like author James Clear says in his best-selling book Atomic Habits,:
“You want to become a person who is in the habit of showing up at the gym three days a week. Even if you show up for five minutes, without fail, you will slowly become consistent with this practice. And since you are showing up, you might as well do some work while you’re there.”
That is how is starts, but it has to start with you showing up. This is an invaluable practice, as this level of personal discipline will pay dividends in other areas too. You become a person who says something then actually follows through and does it. Lots of people talk a good game, but hardly anyone actually backs it up. BE THAT PERSON.
The carryover into other areas of life will really help you as well. “Showing up” for your kids means that regardless of the rough day/week/year you are having at work, you come home happy to see them. You take time to go to Little League games and plays, and you help ensure that their childhood memories are ones with you in them. The same is true of your partner in the relationship you are in, you need to “show up” for them too. You need to be a person of commitment and discipline. This will keep your partnership just that, a partnership, instead of them feeling like that ask you to do things but they never get done. The same is true at work, you need to be firing on all cylinders as much as possible. You are paid to do a job to the best of your abilities, and this means that you show up ready to go each and every day. You put your best foot forward and you do your job.
Personal Discipline is just that…personal. You cannot rely on external motivators to get you off the couch. You need to muster the will to do what you need to do, every time. There is no other way; you can listen to all the motivational speakers and heavy metal music you want, and these may help, but at the end of the day it is solely up to you to show up. A little practice goes a long way, so get started. If you do, you will live a life others envy. I can promise you that…