One of the many benefits of consulting is having the opportunity to work with people across a diverse range of industries and types of business. While on the one hand each person or organisation with which we work is unique, on the other they are remarkably the same. After eight years in this business I’ve come to conclude that people are people; and while of course we can always find exceptions to the rule, common among the vast majority is a sincere desire to succeed.
I believe most people get up in the morning with good intentions about what they will do and achieve. The reasons some subsequently struggle to attain their goals are many and varied. Today I will focus on one of the biggest success killers, a lack of discipline. Wikipedia offers a useful definition – “the assertion of willpower over more base desires … usually understood to be synonymous with self-control.” Self-discipline is “… the ability to motivate oneself in spite of a negative emotional state. Qualities associated with self-discipline include willpower, hard work, and persistence.”
How often have you heard someone say “I know I should but…..” followed by all the best excuses in the world? How often is it that you utter or think those words? Reflect for a moment on the consequences you have observed or experienced by not following through and failing to stick to a plan. How has your own success or that of your team been impacted by avoiding dealing with priorities you are well aware of?
It is common for my team and I to work with organisations that have the tools and resources they need to achieve and yet they struggle. All too often at the heart of the issue is their failure to do the things they already know are important. Why they fail to do what they know they need to varies – the most common being:
- Inability to prioritize competing demands
- Giving up or changing the plan when things get hard
- Fear and hesitation in confronting the challenges and obstacles that come along
- Allowing busyness to consistently put some priorities at the back of the queue
- Doing what is interesting or fun rather than what is important
- Taking the easy path of least resistance even if it leads to suboptimal outcomes
In my second book The People Manager’s Toolkit (due for release 1 July 2013) I share insight into how to leverage critical tools such as recruitment and performance management to optimal effect. At the heart of the book is the message that the tools at our disposal are only as valuable as the extent to which we put them to good use. For example is matters little that you have a performance management system in place if you fail to apply it well. There’s no point having an impressive document if you fail to have the conversations you need to have.
In what ways are you disciplined and how can you improve? Ask yourself:
- What is sitting on your ‘must do list’ that can be checked off with a measure of discipline?
- To what new heights can you take your own performance or that of your team with greater discipline?
- What challenges, risks or adverse consequences can be avoided with a more disciplined approach?