I’m going to start this newsletter by stating right up front I am going off the beaten path of my normal contributions of physical performance and nutrition this week. Trust me, however, that this message still relates to those topics quite directly no matter what life stage you are in.
Webster’s dictionary defines discipline as “control gained by enforcing obedience or order”, “orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior”, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character”, “a field of study”, “a rule or system of rules”. This word can be looked at many different ways, but when discipline is applied in either our own lives or that of those we are trying to have an impact on, rarely bad things come of it; despite the connotation the word comes with on the receiving end from the person being disciplined.
When I think of the word, a few things come to mind. First, the means of providing structure and feedback to someone when you are trying to make a difference and set an example. Discipline in this sense of the word could be correcting a young child who didn’t use their manners, or a high school student who earned themselves a detention for being late to class. Again, both forms of discipline are enforced with a positive change in mind, despite being construed as a negative action.
The second form of “discipline” that comes to mind when I hear the word is the ability to “stick to it” through the good times and the bad; to continue to persist and trust your process consistently with the faith that what you are working at will help you reach your ultimate goal. Having the discipline to get out of bed every day to train for the marathon you just signed up for next fall, or better yet the golf tournament you will be playing in this summer!
As humans grow and develop into young adults, and then old(er) adults, the discipline tides turn from being disciplined, to providing it, and ultimately having to look in the mirror to apply it to ourselves. This last part is the most important in my opinion. It is uncomfortable at times, and often tests your inner strength, but being disciplined is an invaluable trait that more often than not results in a better self. It can be challenging to police our every move when we don’t have the structure of someone else giving us feedback or pushing us to “stick to it.” The challenge lies in us getting up out of bed and going for that run, or getting that workout in, or practicing the things we aren’t good at, even when someone else doesn’t tell us to!
I started writing this article with our junior athletes in mind as they are faced with new circumstances, and in some cases more autonomy and freedom of their schedules than ever before. Then I realized, often the hardest part for our adult athletes striving to reach their goals is having the discipline to “stick to it” consistently enough to see it through, too! I hope this perspective of discipline resonates with all of you, and you feel motivated to think twice about why you are doing what you are doing. Stick to it! Stay disciplined! Good things will come of it!