The miracle of self-discipline Alexander Graham Bell

Arthur Marara-Point Blank

“It is not enough to have great qualities, “we should also have the management of them” said that most quoted of persons, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, (15 September 1613 – 17 March 1680).

Reflecting a bit on his utterances, you will notice that great gifts and attributes are part of the equation and not the whole equation. The trend nowadays is to find great talent with poor management by the possessors of the same.

You can be an exceptionally good business leader, but if you lack self- discipline you will lose all that you have worked. The same applies to success in various aspects of life; be it spiritual, marital, relational, finances, sport, music and entertainment. Being gifted or talented will not protect you from the consequences of indiscipline.

A gift actually makes you more vulnerable than secure because it exposes your weaknesses in other areas to the public. 

I have read of many soccer players who earn thousands of dollars/pounds weekly yet live in debt, and some even die paupers. The same with some prominent musicians who live and die in debt yet all their life they were making thousands and some millions of dollars. Where are we missing the point; self-discipline!

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There is plenty of movement, but you never know if it is going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.” [H Jackson Brown, Jr.]

There is no greatness without self-discipline 

“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself and be lenient to everybody else.” [Henry Ward Beecher]. 

Great live with great self-discipline. Why talk in terms of self- discipline and not just discipline? The words say it; it is discipline at a personal level. You do not wait for someone to instil it on you, you instil it on yourself. External discipline comes when you have failed to discipline yourself. If you want to be successful in any area of your life, you need to master self-discipline.

Discipline by definition is simply committing and forcing yourself to do what you do not feel like doing. For example, you are a student, discipline entails studying when you do not feel like studying. 

If you are into business, discipline will force you to put in more hours than your contemporaries to work and strategise leadership for your organisation when the watch is saying time has moved. In simpler terms, discipline entails going against your body, emotions, and even the clock for the sake of greatness.

All the great people we have studied or read about could have done some other things or possibly slept, but they realised that if they do not do it, someone will do it and they will miss on their opportunity for greatness. 

HA Dorfman defines self-discipline in an elaborate and interesting way and his sentiments are worthy of reproduction, “Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy. Freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear and doubt. Self-discipline allows a pitcher to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is master of, rather than a slave to, his thoughts and emotions.”;

The story of Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray”; Success is actually a short race a sprint fuelled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.”[Gary Keller]. 

If you study a little bit of history relating to communications, you will realise that Alexander Graham Bell is said to be the inventor of the telephone, but when you read further, you will realise that there was a man called Elisha Gray who was working on a similar device, and the majority of the modern telephones borrowed from Elisha Gray’s device, but he did not get credit for that due to the fact that he was beaten by a few hours in submitting the registration for a patent for the telephone. 

Imagine if Alexander Graham Bell had delayed, and had not disciplined himself to work. Self-discipline can be the difference between making history and being history.

Succeed in disciplining yourself

If you cannot discipline yourself, the world will discipline you. There are many people who want to instil discipline in other people yet they have failed to discipline themselves. This is the trend with many companies, and organisations. 

If we work on self-discipline, we will not have problems instilling discipline in other people. The reason why some corporates are struggling with discipline issues is because of the leadership and the management itself that is not disciplined. 

The manager is corrupt, but expects his subordinates to live a corrupt free life, the CEO is busy flirting and even having sexual relations or even sexually harassing subordinates yet expects sanity to prevail in the company.

People are often inspired and moved not by what they hear you say, but by what they see you do.

Everyone can speak and possibly share these amazing principles, but it takes a person of discipline to live and walk by them. If you are a parent, show self-discipline in the way that you live your life and earn the respect of your children. Many parents have lost the moral standing to correct their children as they are involved in the very acts that their children are doing.

Learn to go against the temptations and the heat of the moment for the sake of the future. Do the right thing even when it seems financially inconvenient.

Indiscipline leads to chaos

If there is no discipline in any area of your life, chaos will be inevitable. If you are not financially disciplined you will be in constant debt, and will have debt collectors constantly at your doorstep. Speaking of finances, some people are not even disciplined when it comes to shopping. They shop not because they have to but simply because their eyes have been excited by what they saw and there is some cash with them.

Most of the people who are in serious debt now are not the people whom the society may deem “poor”;, but people who are of means. Come to scrutinise why they are in such a situation, the main reason is financial indiscipline, and the bulk of the loans which are borrowed are usually meant to support luxurious activities which may not necessarily be deemed “necessities”. 

This area is just one of the areas to show effects of indiscipline. The increase in small houses is clearly a sign of lack of self-discipline such that adults possibly with university degrees and college diplomas have to be constantly reminded of the need to be “faithful” and “…to stick to one partner”. 

If you are a parent, and practicing this, what lessons are you giving to your children? Is this one story you can confidently share with your children and possibly expect them to emulate? Corruption has made headlines and posters are everywhere denouncing it, but come to think of it, people who are swindling firms of money and engaging in corrupt practices are not again people you can term “poor”, they are people of means who could just not let money pass through without them dipping their hands into the jar.

Without discipline you cannot achieve anything in life 

George Washington once remarked on the importance of discipline; “Nothing is more harmful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another.”;

Take a self-discipline audit

You do not need a prophet to tell you that you have a “small house” and you need to quit it. In the same vein you do not need a prophet to tell you that you are thief or you are corrupt and that is wrong! Hard hitting words maybe, but that is the truth. 

You do not need a prophet to tell you that you are sleeping too much, and part of the time you are spending in bed can be spend studying for a diploma which you always yell about doing in the future yet you have not even bothered to check the requirements online yet you are always online doing other things. Why tell you that you do not need a prophet; the answer is simple – you know the truth more than anyone else. Facts are always stubborn, but this is the reality that can help you move your life or your business from where it is now to where it ought to be. 

At this moment, I want you to take time to think about your life, and what is happening and identify the areas that are really in need of change and improvement. Some people spend hours of time watching television, and nothing learnt in the process. 

Do you know that on the same television you can actually watch educational documentaries, business channels that can shape and develop your productive knowledge? On the same internet some people are expending hours on social networks while some are making money through the same Social networks. 

Master self-discipline and put it in areas of your life that do really need it. You can never instil discipline in your life by accident, this is a conscious decision. Resolve and commit to changing the areas.

Interrogate your private life

What makes a person is not so much what they do in the full view of everyone, but what they do far from the sight of the public. Be disciplined in your private life, or the same activities which are “private” will find their way into the public domain and cease to be private. What do you usually do in private? Are you proud to share these activities with the public? I always ask this question, “If your private life was to be shown on the big screen, how many people would you invite to watch the movie with you?”; Food for thought!

You can develop self-discipline 

The same way negative habits are developed, that is the same way that positive ones can be created. The only way to replace a habit is to create and develop new habits. You just need to consistently do something and it becomes a part of you. With time you will discover that you do not even struggle to do it. This explains why some people are habitual liars, habitual thieves, habitual adulterers, and also in the positive light some people are excellent presenters, speakers, business leaders, and amazing sports people. 

The secret is, consistently doing something that they want to do? Aristotle summarised this principle many years ago, “We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit”.

I want to give you a task, identify the area that you are struggling with. Set a goal to work on it this year. Identify the small steps that you can take to overcome it. Think of someone who can help you check on your progress.

Force yourself to do what is difficult, rather than take the easy way out because ease will always lead to unease in the future. Stay blessed, and be a blessing!

Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney, keynote speaker, corporate and personal branding speaker commanding the stage with his delightful humour, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. He is a financial wellness expert and is passionate about addressing the issues of wellness, strategy and personal and professional development.

Arthur is the author of “oys for Adults”; a thought provoking book on entrepreneurship, and “No one is Coming” a book that seeks to equip leaders to take charge.

Feedback:[email protected] or Visit his website or contact him on WhatsApp: or call +263772467255.

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