Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Discipline exercise

I'm big on discipline. My old drama teacher told us on our last day of school that discipline is one of the most important things you can have. I’m quite confident that discipline is one of the few must-have traits in a successful business person (among such things as commitment and optimism).

Discipline is very easy to define: Discipline is picking large long-term satisfaction over small short-term satisfaction. Discipline is getting up from bed even though your body feels like lead. Discipline is not eating from the bag of candy when you are in the process of cooking dinner. Discipline is getting up from the TV couch to do the dishes. I.e. sacrificing gratification in exchange for a larger one later on.

Now, discipline is not a philosophy or emotion. It’s a rather a skill, in my opinion, one that is trained. A lot of people get this from their parents, and some do not. My parents spoiled me quite a bit, because I was fiercely stubborn with what I wanted as a child, which has resulted in low discipline skills that I’m just recently learning to combat efficiently.

My current favourite exercise is very simple. If feel hungry while I’m in the city, I find the nearest candy store and walk in. I stroll the store and look at all the delicious stuff, think about how good it would be to eat it, and then… I don’t. Basically, facing temptation and then choose not to give in to it. Very simple, and very efficient exercise.

(If you are a smoker, you can do what a character does in one of Dan Browns books - he constantly asks people for a cigarette, and when he is given one, he considers smoking it, and then always gives it back.)

Try it. If you’re like me, I promise that it will give you a sense of freedom. Until next week, I remain

Your serf and servant
Mattias Johansson

PS. If you liked the above post, please consider buying the SitePoint web design business kit. I still consider it to be the best piece of business literature I own (although Justin Heralds book, Would You Like Attitude With That, comes damn close.) Also, I get money if you buy it, so please do. D.S.