The Myth of Discipline is one of my most read articles on the web. Why? Because it resonates well, and people want to spread the word. Because of its popularity, it has triggered multiple questions.
Question 1: Aren’t disciplines and habits the same?
Yes, I would add the word “great” in front of habits.
Whenever one talks about discipline you cannot take away the word “habit” from the discussion.
Here is something you should know: it does not take three weeks to install a positive habit, it actually takes over three times more time than that: 66 days to be precise. Disciplines are specific. Michael Phelps had been diagnosed as having ADHD in kindergarten. His teacher reported to his mother that “he can’t focused on anything”… Really?
As an Olympian, he has won enough Olympic medals to qualify 12th in the World over 3 Olympics. To be successful you need discipline not in all areas of your life but only on a few key ones you are passionate about. Phelps “loved” swimming, as I mentioned in my first article, and it is easy to be disciplined in something you love.
You don’t decide on your future, you decide on your habits, and your habits decide on your future. READ THAT LAST SENTENCE AGAIN !
Question 2: How much discipline can we have?
Willpower goes through a LOT of glucose. Willpower is like a fast-twitch muscle, great for short bursts, yet… no staying power. Hence timing tasks which require willpower have to be done when glucose is stable or slightly raising…like after the meat and nuts breakfast.
I am of the opinion that this explains why most really effective individuals only work 4 hours a day at maximal power. You brain fuel supply is just not there. While our brain represents only one 50th of our bodyweight, it consumes one fifth of the fuel.
Question 3: Want to win a business meeting?
Provide free breakfast of carbs and low fats for your guests, and you eat the meat and nut breakfast right before the meeting. Time your demands when their blood sugar is dropping, lets say 10:30 AM if you gave THEM the breakfast at 8 AM…
Question 4: To be sharp at a meeting, what do you need ?
You need a prefrontal cortex that is lit up: sharp focus, great short-term memory, problem solving ability, and of course, impulse control. When your blood sugar is the doldrums, your prefrontal cortex is done.. A sharp brain consumes fuel the way a Porsche does.
Anybody who claims they are sharp 16 hours a day, is a compulsive liar.
Skipping meals kills will power !
Question 5: How can I get more discipline?
Four hours on CONCENTRATED work a day is a realistic goal. You do that, you will BE in the top 1% in your chosen passion. Here are the best 5 tips to be more disciplined:
- Go on a smart phone/social media diet. Twice a day, 15 minutes. Max. Implement that, and you are on the fast track to success. Are there exceptions? Of course like riding the subway, not while you are driving. The average worker is interrupted every 11 minutes, and spend almost a third of their day recovering from these interruptions. Distractions cost in terms of time and effectiveness. The numbers are even frightening for people who work on computers all day, they tend to switch tasks 37 times an hour.
- Do your most important task after you finish breakfast. No email, no phone, give it two hours. Take a break. Preferably a glycemic balanced snack.
- Do another two hours of priority work.
- Now you can read email, take messages etc.
- Learn on to meditate. If there is one thing I wish I had learned earlier in life, it would be having to learned meditation earlier. I can’t unring the doorbell nor unscramble the eggs. However, my best course is to promote it. Meditation has numerous brain benefits that have been published in peer reviewed papers. I have only done it 3 months, yet that short time period, I have already found that my sleep needs have decreased, I wake up more rested, and my short-term memory has significantly improved.
Do what you love, love what you do!
Coach Charles R. Poliquin