Kick Your Own Butt
Kick your own butt. What a concept! If you’re looking for success, fulfillment, happiness, that’s a good starting place: Kick your own butt!
What does this mean? It means that if you want to achieve success in life, in any endeavor, it’s going to require self discipline. Success is not synonymous with free time and taking life as it comes. If you want success, if you want to reach your goals-to mature, to grow, to pursue a professional ministry, to ultimately carry the torch; to be responsible and make a difference-then it’s up to you, and ONLY you!
If you never seem to be reaching your goals, or worse, if you don’t have any goals and are tired of people nagging you to do more with your time-your life; if it’s driving you crazy, then you can do something about it. You can kick your own butt. (And that way someone else doesn’t have to kick it for you!)
Ultimately, this means self discipline. Bad word? No. It might be a painful or uncomfortable word, but it’s actually a beautiful word when you consider that discipline is key to greatness and achieving success. We won’t lie to you and say self discipline is easy. It’s not. It’s hard, it’s even grueling. But if you want to be all you can be, that’s the price, and you can do it.
Discipline derives from disciple–disciple to a philosophy, disciple to a set of principles, disciple to a set of values, disciple to an overriding purpose, to a goal or a person who represents that goal.
In other words, if you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a follower, of your own deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, your moods to those values.
One of my favorite essays is “The Common Denominator of Success,” written by E. M. Gray. He spent his life searching for the one denominator that all successful people share. He found it wasn’t hard work, good luck, or astute human relations, though those were all important. The one factor that seemed to transcend all the rest was putting first things first.
“The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” he observed. “[Successful people] don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”
The good news is that the better you get at self discipline, the easier it becomes.
No one who achieves greatness does so without discipline. [But] … when you discipline yourself to do the things you need to do, when you need to do them, the day’s going to come when you can do the things you want to do, when you want to do them. It’s also true that life is tough, but when you are tough on yourself, life will be infinitely easier on you.
Discipline yourself today so you can have a better life tomorrow.
A true story: The making of a winner
In his book The Life God Blesses, Gordon MacDonald tells a story about his experiences on the track team at the University of Colorado in the late fifties. In particular, he remembers the difficult workouts he did with a teammate named Bill. “To this day I have anguished memories of our workouts each Monday afternoon,” says Gordon. “When those Monday workouts ended, I would stagger in exhaustion to the locker room.” But Bill was different. When he was finished, he would rest on the grass near the track. But after about 20 minutes, while Gordon showered, Bill would repeat the entire workout!
Bill didn’t consider himself to be an exceptional athlete in college. “I was not a great athlete,” observed Bill. “But I had the bag of tricks theory … that is, there is no one big move you can make in your training or in competition, but there are thousands of little things you can do.”
Bill might not have made a great impact during his college years, but his discipline and desire paid off over time. Through disciplined effort and continual improvement, the unspectacular college athlete who had worked out with Gordon MacDonald became the world-famous athlete, Bill Toomey, the decathlete inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984.
What elevated Bill to such high accomplishments was his discipline. Gordon MacDonald’s insight says it all: “The difference between the two of us began on Monday afternoons during workout. He was unafraid of discipline and did the maximum (He kicked his own butt!); I was afraid of discipline and did the minimum.” (He didn’t!)
Fleshing it out
Discipline is doing what you really don’t want to do so that you can do what you really want to do. It’s paying the price in the little things so that you can obtain the bigger things. And just as no individual succeeds without discipline, neither does any team. To become the kind of players that teams want, people must develop discipline in three areas. They must possess…
1. Disciplined thinking
You can’t get far in life if you don’t use your head. To do that, you don’t have to be a genius; you just need to use the mind God has given you. Playwright George Bernard Shaw remarked, “Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” If you keep your mind active, regularly take on mental challenges, and continually think about the right things, you will develop the disciplined thinking that will help you with whatever you endeavor to do.
2. Disciplined emotions
People have just two choices when it comes to their emotions: They can master their emotions or be mastered by them. That doesn’t mean that to be a good team player you must turn off your feelings. But it does mean that you shouldn’t let your feelings prevent you from doing what you should or drive you to do things you shouldn’t.
A classic example of what can happen when a person doesn’t discipline his emotions can be seen in the life of golf legend Bobby Jones. Like today’s Tiger Woods, Jones was a golf prodigy. He began playing in 1907 at age five. By age 12, he was scoring below par, an accomplishment most golfers don’t achieve in a lifetime of playing the game. At age 14, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship. But Jones didn’t win that event. His problem can be best described by the nickname (which he later cleared himself of): “club thrower.” Jones often lost his temper–and his ability to play well.
An older golfer that Jones called Grandpa Bart advised the young man, “You’ll never win until you can control that temper of yours.” Jones took his advice and began working to discipline his emotions. At age 21, Jones blossomed and went on to be one of the greatest golfers in history, retiring at age 28 after winning the grand slam of golf. Grandpa Bart’s comment sums up the situation: “Bobby was 14 when he mastered the game of golf, but he was 21 when he mastered himself.”
3. Disciplined actions
Albert Hubert said, “Parties who want milk should not seat themselves on a stool in the middle of the field and hope that the cow will back up to them.” Sharpening your mind and controlling your emotions are important, but they can take you only so far. Action separates the winners from the losers. The attorney who reads up on cases, the doctor who keeps focused in the emergency room, the parent who comes home when promised are all people practicing disciplined action. And when they do, the other people who are depending on them benefit.
Reflecting on it
How are you doing when it comes to discipline? Do you take on mental and physical challenges for the practice of it? Or are you constantly seeking a way to stay in your comfort zone? Do you sometimes regret that you’ve been unable to get yourself to do what you know is right? Or most of the time do you believe that you do the best you can? And how do you react under pressure? Do the people on your team expect extra effort or a sudden explosion when things go wrong? Your answers to these questions will give insight into whether you are winning the battle for discipline.