If there is one underpinning key principle that differentiates those who are successful from those who aren’t, it’s a healthy dose of self-discipline. Conversely, the path of least resistance is what causes people to look for a quick way out, find the next silver bullet or do the minimum to get by and ultimately sell themselves short.
And it has nothing to do with technical ability – your competitor could be less skilled than you but gain advantage because she is prepared to tackle the things you won’t. You may find yourself looking enviously at the success others enjoy and think they must have some “secret sauce” or “stroke of luck” that enables them to rise to the top so rapidly. The truth is business is just like any other performing art – it takes hard work, dedication and persistence. Think of the ballet dancer having to practice for hours daily for months on end for a 90 minute ballet, constantly striving for excellence, pushing herself beyond her own limitations. Think of the days when her feet hurt, when she is exhausted, when she’d far rather go out with friends and party, when she’d love a plate of steak and French fries. Her performance looks easy and effortless when she goes on stage because her muscle of self-discipline is highly developed.
I like to think of self-discipline as self-mastery – learning to control your thoughts, your emotions and your actions so that what you do today is in alignment with your longer-term goals. This can be particularly challenging as a small business owner when you don’t have a boss to report to or regular performance reviews to keep you in check. It takes discipline to create your own structure and rewards system to keep you focused for the long term. The problem for most people is that they have set goals and intentions previously and not achieved them and they now have a long history to prove to themselves that they lack self-discipline!
I remember years ago hearing of a very successful female entrepreneur who skyrocketed her business from zero. I was convinced that she had some previous experience in business or sales but her “secret sauce” was that she was willing to outwork everyone else through self-discipline and sheer determination. And that’s the good news – self-discipline may not sound like the sexiest tool in your toolkit but it’s the tool that will get you over the winning line time and time again. Where others are slacking (getting up late, watching TV, surfing the internet, posting way too many comments on Facebook), you can be confidently gaining a clear advantage.
Write a list of the areas in your business where you are currently lacking self-discipline. Once you have your list, make your best estimate as to how much it’s actually costing you each month. For example, if you lack discipline in following up with potential clients, how much missed business is this costing you per month? Now multiply that by 12 to find out the yearly cost. You’ll be surprised to see just how quickly these numbers can add up. That alone should be some great motivation to start building your own self-discipline muscle.
If you know that you could benefit from some outside expertise to help you build that muscle, see below for several opportunities to help you to break through to your next level of success.
Remember – procrastination is costing you dollars in your bank account and somebody else is gaining their competitive advantage!
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