The final chapter of a book that I have just finished was called ‘Discipline equals Freedom’ and subtitled The Dichotomy of Leadership. The concept resonated with me. As a g#mce_temp_url#, we have a mantra that says ‘Routine will set you free’. You can see the link.
It caused me to think about discipline in a broader sense and where it fits within my own personal philosophy and, more importantly, where it sits in the day to day routines and practices of my life and therefore my business and by extension, the lives and businesses of the people I impact.
A decade and a half of coaching business leaders have proved to me, beyond any doubt, that life is indeed a mirror and that all businesses are a reflection of the person, or the people, at the top. If you want to change your results, first change yourself; how you think, and how you behave. If you are mean-spirited, your business will be mean-spirited, if you are generous your business will be generous. If you are successful the chances are your business will be successful too and if you are ill-disciplined, random and ad hoc, guess what? The chances are that your business will also lack discipline, consistency and rhythm too.
One of the unavoidable facts of being in any leadership position, formal or informal, is that you are always on show. Whether you like that or not. Everything about you and your behaviour is always up for scrutiny. It may not always be conscious on your part or the observers part but be aware you are being scrutinised. Your words and actions and implied thoughts are being absorbed and, as the leader, they will be imitated.
It was Albert Schweitzer who said “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing”. What sort of an example do you set? We often see leaders complaining about traits in their team that are a direct reflection of traits that they themselves exhibit. I well remember a client telling me with great satisfaction that they knew what was wrong with their business and that it was that “people just didn’t do what they said they were going to do”. This was based on some behaviours they had observed. A few moments later when I asked them if they had done the homework they had committed to the last time I had met with them they told me that they hadn’t, because they had decided it wasn’t that important. They were shocked to realise that they had modelled the precise behaviour that they had found so unacceptable in their team. When we started to analyse most of the behaviour they found unacceptable they were able to trace the source back to themselves.
Discipline does equal freedom. The discipline to get up a little earlier will give you more time. The discipline to clear up after yourself will give you more space. The discipline to do what you say will build more trust. The discipline to develop yourself will give you more results. The discipline to set the right example will help you build a business you can be proud of.
As you enter a New Year you may find it beneficial to focus on just one thing and perhaps that one thing is discipline.