“Why Discipline Is Greater Than Motivation”


Growing up with a police officer as my father, subjected me to a disciplined childhood. I couldn’t leave the dinner table until all of my food was gone, and it didn’t matter if  I liked or disliked what was on my plate. My father would never let us stay home sick, so I never missed a day of school from elementary all through high school. I also wasn’t allowed to hang out after school or go to late night parties on the weekend. My mother carried a wooden spoon in her purse, and wouldn’t hesitate to spank us in public to get us back in line. My father even gave me a curfew when I used to come home from college. I believe that discipline is what kept me off the streets and out of trouble.


Growing up, every sport came easy, and I excelled at everything. Baseball, basketball, football, track, soccer, tennis…you name it, and I could play it. I remember playing basketball outside in the frigid cold temperatures shooting a ball into empty crates, or shooting at a goal with only a backboard and no rim. I used to throw my football at trees in the backyard, hit pop-up baseballs to myself and race my dogs around the yard. And in each of these scenarios, I was a pretending to be a professional athlete. I was also looking for ways to get better, and I was awarded countless trophies and medals. That discipline led to some of my greatest sports accomplishments, especially the three AAU Junior Olympic Track & Field medals that still sit at my parent’s house.


But as I got older, I became less disciplined and my athletic career never progressed the way I had planned. I started studying less in school and was academically ineligible for at least one semester ever year in high school. So the sports that I excelled at would suffer, because I was never around for a full season. I stopped working on my craft, and relied on my athleticism to get me by. I had the motivation, but I lacked the discipline.


In order to be great, you first need motivation. But more than motivation, you need discipline. Discipline gives us boundaries to develop our skills and establish a regimen. The great ones have the discipline to put in the work, when no one is looking. The great ones have the discipline to do the necessary and the unnecessary until it all becomes necessary. Three-time Olympian Jim Ryun, who was the first high-school boy to break 4 minutes for the Mile, and held the national high-school record for 36 years, says that “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

As humans, we all have some form of motivation, which is the reason why we do or do not do certain things. But not everyone has discipline. If you find me someone great, I can guarantee you we can find their path of discipline. When you hear stories about the great athletes of our generation, the common thread amongst all of them is their work ethic. Taking shots before and after practice, extra reps in the gym, investing in recovery equipment for their homes. Simply having motivation doesn’t cut it, because there is always going to be someone who has the same motivation and passion as you – the difference comes into how disciplined you are at achieving your goals.

Since most of us are not athletes anymore, we may lack some direction on how to become disciplined in our various fields of work, school and life. Here are three ways you can get disciplined:

  1. Read. It’s as simple as that. Grab some books, listen to books on tape, peruse articles and magazines – everyday. Think about all of the media that you are exposed to on a daily basis. All you have to do now is substitute the things that are not advancing you towards your goals. With today’s technology, there are endless resources, so you have no excuse. It’s there, but are you disciplined enough to go pick it up?
  2. Meditate. We are what we think about. Take time out of each day, to visualize what you want to achieve, and then verbalize it to yourself or others. The mind enables consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement and memory. If you’re disciplined enough to fill it the right way with the right things, then you’ll begin to see it pour into your daily life.
  3. Network. Most people are not great networkers. I admit, it is very hard to do. But networking doesn’t always have to be so traditional where you go and meet someone whom you don’t know and exchange information. Try networking with people you do know so that you can be held accountable. That way, if you lack discipline in some areas, someone else is there to help get you back on track – just like my father.

Photo courtesy: http://comingtothetable.org.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s