Self-Discipline is the Key (Accomplishment Pt. 1)

I’m facilitating a leadership book club in my office, and we’re studying John Maxwell’s book, Developing the Leader Within You 2.0.

This week’s chapter is “Self-Discipline,” and I’m pleasantly amazed how much it ties in with chapter 2 in Adulting Like a Boss: “It’s the Hard Things that Make Life Easy.”

No matter what you call it, the principle of trading off doing what’s hard NOW to reap the benefits of something easier down the road is stated over and over. Maxwell says it like this: Pay Now, Play Later. Because if you don’t, you’ll Play Now and Pay Later. And the “Pay Later” is a much BIGGER pay than paying now.

Financial guru Dave Ramsey’s philosophy is the same: Live like no one else (now) so that (later) you can Live Like No One Else!

This is the battle cry of motivational speakers, financial advisors, life coaches, and ME! Do the Hard Thing first. Do it when you don’t feel like it. Do it NOW. It’s saying YES when we want to say No, and saying No when we want to say Yes. It’s a battle between our emotional self – which says, “Relax. Take it easy.” And our logical self, which tells us, “If you do this now, you won’t regret it!”

Responsibility is a surprising path to freedom

It seems that freedom from responsibility should be what leads to freedom. How can it be that taking responsibility gives us real freedom?

In the 1960s, when the Hippie movement came about, this new counter-culture was about not being weighed down by responsibilities. The youth of the day saw their parents trudging along, under the “yoke” of responsibility, confined by jobs at factories, paying mortgages, and living under a burdensome yoke of tradition.

So the youth of the day rebelled and the days of “free love” and “make love not war” were born. They wanted to do their own thing. But within a few years, the freedom they wanted wasn’t there. Where were they ten years later? Working responsible jobs. Paying mortgages. In monogamous marriages. The “free love” wasn’t so free after all. And “doing your own thing” had often meant not doing ANYthing, and they found that that was no way to live.

I’m definitely not ditching the whole movement, because there were many good things that our society gained from those years – tie-dyed shirts, for example, and some amazing music.

I think they thought that the life of responsibility – Adulting life – was boring. And I think that the idea has resurfaced with millennials. But life doesn’t have to be boring! It shouldn’t be boring.

I want to be very clear on this: It isn’t freedom from responsibility that makes life boring; It’s responsibility that makes an exciting life possible.

Doing the Hard Thing = Responsibility. Responsibility = Maturity. Maturity = Adulting. Like a Boss.

From Adulting Like a Boss, p. 28-29

In Rory Vaden’s book, Take the Stairs, he says that we ask ourselves these questions:

  • Should I go ahead and buy that item, or just save my money for a rainy day?
  • Should I have that extravagant dessert or call it quits for the night?
  • Should I put in the extra effort here or just get by with the minimum amount required?
  • He says that these are the questions that reveal the Pain Paradox of decision making.

The short term easy leads to the long-term difficult, while the short-term difficult leads to the long-term easy. The great paradox is that what we thought was the easy way, what looks like the easy way, what seems like the easy way very often leads us to creating a life that couldn’t be more opposite of easy And inversely the things that we thought were most difficult, the challenges that appear to be the toughest, and the requirements that seem most rigorous are the very activities that lead us to the life of easy that we all want.

Nobody said it was going to be easy. It’s hard, but doing the hard thing can be conquered, and in my next article I want to share with you the one secret that will unlock the hard thing for you.

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