Burnout to Leadership

Ep#31 The upside of discipline

May 06, 2022 Dex Randall Season 1 Episode 31
Burnout to Leadership
Ep#31 The upside of discipline
Show Notes Transcript
  • Does discipline sound like fun?
  • How self-discipline is a friend to cultivate.
  • Where we fall down - discipline compared to the alternatives.
  • The biggest factor in sticking to discipline.

Hi everyone. My name is Dex Randall, and this is the Burnout to Leadership Podcast, where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work. Hello, my friends, this is Dex. How are you doing today? And on this episode, what I'm gonna do is talk about discipline. But when I say discipline, what I really mean is self discipline. Because, frankly, I've never been much an authority figure as externally applied discipline can still rancour with me, it's not my cup of tea. My mind has a little bit to say about that. Self discipline, I like. Self discipline, there's no one to blame, it's only me, I made a choice to do it. So it's kind of good with me. So that's what I'm gonna talk about now because for many people, discipline I think might have at one time or may even still be a bit of a dirty word. It's often something we associate with childhood and having to do stuff that we don't like or being told off for doing things that we shouldn't have done. So I think it's worth examining our relationship again with discipline, and again, self discipline, because for me, I've learned a lot in the coaching that I've been receiving about self discipline, and I'm just gonna share some of those ideas with you today and some of my own ideas. Because for me, self discipline doesn't chafe anymore. It really does seem like it helps me. And I really did used to hate it and now I love it. It makes my life simpler, it helps me get to my goals faster, it is much less effort than re deciding what to do all the time. For example, my self discipline allows me a constant self coaching practice which I at times can resist as much as the next man. In fact, self discipline also allows me to pursue any activity as a habit, even if I don't like it or don't wanna do it, like maybe physio exercises or cleaning my bike or, here's a good one, cleaning the bathroom. Can anyone relate to that? Anyway, discipline allows me to develop skills and fitness, and basically anything else I want. If I decide to do it, I just do it, whatever the thing is. And one example I have was, I was in a hospital after a car crash, my arm, leg, hip, pelvis and spine were all broken and I had to lie in bed all day, but I had to do 200 reps of half a dozen exercises lying on the back in the hospital bed, three times a day, every day by myself, and it hurt, and it took ages and I was tired and I didn't want to do it. But I was able to apply discipline to that because the alternative was really unappealing. There was a chance I wouldn't walk again. So I used discipline to decide once, it's just the same as getting up in the morning, I like to get up at 5 o'clock, I used discipline to decide once that I'm gonna do that, I choose to cultivate that habit because it serves me because I want long term gain, not the short term pleasure of staying in bed and rolling over. So I choose to forego instant gratification, but I only have to choose that once, the rest of the time, I kind of put myself on auto pilot. And I do not indulge in debate about it every time the alarm goes off. In fact, what I do is, before my mind has time to object, I leap quickly out of bed and then it's all over. And the skill I'm developing is to become more expert at delaying gratification in that case. Because I don't know about you, but after a lifetime of research, I've concluded that I like the after effects of delayed gratification better. It brings me more long term joy, and critically for me, more self approval. And anyway, I don't really want to debate for 15 minutes, cave in on some weak excuse, stay in bed, and then feel lousy about myself. My old critical self will be calling me names about that, and to be honest, possibly it still would if I gave it the chance. 'Cause you know that feeling, it's like when you eat way too much ice cream and it just sits there like a lump inside you, heavy, and you feel dull and tired, and that sensation you have when you've eaten too much ice cream already, it just reminds you to be mean to yourself, isn't it? So I guess I've discovered exactly how much of my self esteem comes from my estimable intentions or my courtesies, my thought, my speech, my actions. It's quite a lot, as it turns out. I want to be, these days, a decent human being, not a self indulgent one that hasn't really got the appeal for me it may once have had. So I don't wake up every morning and hear the alarm go off and see if I feel like getting up, or see if the weather is nice, or if I'm happy to delay breakfast for a couple of hours. And I also use discipline to do difficult things, even where doing the difficult thing would risk fear, fear of loss, for example, or humiliation, embarrassment, or maybe shamed, certainly ridicule, maybe wasting time or failure, of course failure, especially public failure. I've really done a whole lot of workshops and Facebook Lives where I had nobody turned up or maybe just one or two people, and then what I call experimental, I try our subject matter and material and see what works and I get feedback sometimes, if there's anyone there, and then I rinse and repeat and adapt and... I shouldn't tell you this really, but I had one very memorable Zoom workshop with just two attendees, one of them was a very highly esteemed client and the other was a person chopping vegetables for dinner, no kidding. And I've learned to take because of this, in these experiments, I've learned to take more embarrassment and humiliation than I used to be able to, 'cause embarrassment and humiliation, they're just feelings, right? It doesn't matter. The other way I use discipline is to avoid over consumption and addictive behaviours. I do have some success with that. I'm not 100% by any means though, I don't ask perfection of myself in such matters at all, I just have a go, I give it my best shot. Because anyway, humans over consume. Modern first world humans have an unprecedented opportunity to over consume. We live in a life of ridiculous abundance in so many material ways and plus media and business, commerce have a stake in keeping us addictive. We didn't really stand a chance, eh? So, I'm a modern human and I don't need to give myself too much trouble about that, just make an honest effort to choose to feel my emotions instead of eating them. And discipline helps a lot here, surprising amount. When I exercise discipline in any way, I'm choosing to find myself important enough to care about and make an effort for. I've got my own long term satisfaction at heart and I'm giving myself a chance to be who I want to be and also to go for bigger goals. I mean it's saying that even with or without big goals, being decent on my own terms is enough for me, I want that. And let's look at quickly some of the... We'll come in a minute to how do you develop discipline, but first, let's look at what happens... Let's look at the alternatives to discipline. So how about discipline versus overwhelm? Discipline, prioritise and systematically get shit done. Overwhelm, tell myself, "I don't know what to do," or "I can't get it all done," judge myself or others for that, panic, freeze, feel awful, argue about it endlessly in my head, descend into brain fog, spin in painful indecision, take no useful action, and get this, feel completely exhausted. Discipline versus overwhelm. I know which one I'm picking. Okay, how about discipline versus procrastination? Discipline, do the task I said I would do. Procrastination, abdicate entirely from doing useful things because they're hard or make me feel bad in favor of escapism, and typically some kind of over consumption. Again, I know what I'm picking. Discipline versus lack of focus. Discipline, knowing what the next right thing is and doing it. Lack of focus, spinning in indecision about what to do next or not thinking about it at all, or not planning anything, or acting on impulse, doing whatever I feel like, or telling myself, "I don't need to do anything." Again, I know what's winning for me. Next one, discipline versus not achieving my goals and dreams. Okay, discipline, working out the precise steps to my dream, planning and scheduling them, acting on my schedule. Not achieving my goals and dreams is basically remaining in a very vague relationship with my dream, pushing it into the never, never into the future, telling myself it's too much, all the reasons I can't do it, I'll think about it later, and then sort of closing the door and doing something else. Discipline versus laziness. Discipline, reliably exerting myself to do things I find unappealing in the moment but I said I would do. Laziness, accepting that doing hard things isn't as nice as doing nothing and I deserve to do, or at least can get away with doing nothing. Discipline versus self indulgence. Discipline, choosing to handle mental resistance in the form of negative feelings, perceived adversity, difficulty, discomfort, negative emotion, whatever. Self indulgence, giving myself the easy way out, over indulging in a way I later regret and which produces nothing good. I made a very compelling case there for myself, and I do wonder how that strikes you, and now what your thoughts are about all of that. But even having said all of that, so what, I almost hear you ask, makes discipline easier if it's such an admirable and wonderful thing to cultivate? Well, here's what I do, when clients come to me, in the very first case, they come to me, I let them know, even though they're all high performing professionals, that commitment is the biggest predictor of success in coaching. I could say commitment and discipline, but by and large, if they have commitment, it's what generally is good discipline in the first place and helps them to stick to their promises and plans. So developing strong commitment to your purpose, to your job, to yourself, your family, your promises, whatever it is, really makes discipline a lot easier to carry through. And commitment really rests I think on having a compelling reason why, why you're doing what you're doing, why did you commit to it, why did you choose it, why are you making those plans and goals, why you're doing your job, why are they important to you? 'Cause often we don't think about this. And I'm gonna borrow one of Russell Brunson's ideas here, which is that you write down all the benefits of your job or your goal or exercise or whatever you're trying to do, and then you write down the benefits of each of those benefits and so on until you have a big tree structure of benefits. And you can do that with your commitment and your why. For example, why are you doing your job? Well, perhaps to keep a roof over your family. So what are the benefits of that benefit? Well, that your family is safe, that they're warm and can sleep at night, that they don't have to wonder where to find shelter each day, that they wake up fresh and rested each morning, can shower, go to the fridge, get on the Internet. I mean I think you can see that if I asked you to come up with 100 benefits from that benefit, it will be easy, you can follow that one for hours. And then for example, if you do have a family, you could start an education. What are all the benefits of being able to provide your children with an education? Again, it goes for days, then you can do food, health care, holidays, sports, pets, on and on and on. And when you've done all that, you will have created a very, very big why. If you don't have any of those, if you don't have a family, or even if you don't have a partner, if you think about it for yourself, you would provide a really big why, and possibly you may find that compelling. When you re look at why you're doing something, or why you're choosing to do something, or choosing to aim for something, if you look at it in that level of detail, it paints a really different picture than normally springs to mind when you think about that goal. 'Cause if you have a goal, or if you have a job you hate or whatever, most of your time is gonna be chewed up by worrying about all the things you hate about it or all the reasons you can't or won't do it. So here's what I think. Having a strong purpose renders us willing to work harder. Man is a meaning seeking machine. Man, okay, humans. Humans are meaning seeking machines and we want purpose, and when we have purpose, it clicks in all the drivers in us to amp up our efforts in the world. And my way is that I want to make the solution to burnout available to everyone in burnout. Now, I'm just one man, so that sounds implausible at the very least, but it sure does drive my discipline in my world to do my best. It doesn't make discipline effortless, but close to in a lot of ways. I don't question myself. I don't pull back on that. I am essentially in service to my calling. And whatever my actual results are, that's the way I want it to be. So find your why, then do the benefits tree to bring that why to life, to bring this power of it into your mind and into your heart. Because your heart is making those choices really. Find a reason to follow your work or your goal or your dream or your plan or you're calling that blows the idea of not following it out of the water. Because discipline is the gift that keeps giving. If you have it in one area, you have it in any area. It's just a major asset when you think about it. And again, here we're talking about self discipline, not impose discipline from outside, which can have its benefits, but that's not what we're discussing here. But self discipline is the driving force behind change, behind you creating change, creating new things, hard things, things you want to create. It gives you more power and more focused power. So I see discipline as my friend, not a pain, not an obligation, not a demand, but something that supports me. And also, if I'm in self discipline, I'm doing it because I find myself important. So self discipline is a muscle I developed. Basically because of that, I now take it more or less for granted. It really simplifies life because I make a lot less decisions and I buffer, I over consume less. It also makes time management easier and it makes my use of time way more effective, way more focused. It's also good for exercise, it's also good against over eating, any poor habits that I may have, and I have plenty, but I'm not gonna discuss them here, it would take 10 minutes. I jest. I get more done basically with self discipline. I get more done with a lot less effort and mind drum. I'm not spinning in my head about stuff. I don't waste energy in a low value debating cycle with myself. Now, you might ask yourself, "Okay, if I'm so enamoured of this self discipline, then how does that affect unconditional love? Because I also aim to have unconditional love for myself as a human being, not a human doing." I will say that when I give myself long term gain over instant gratification, when I make choices that I find esteem able, when I do the right thing by myself and other people, it just feels good, I feel wholesome, I hold myself in that high esteem and I find more joy in life. So I wonder if that's inspired you to have another fresh look at self discipline and how it might work for you and how you might generate more of it. That's what I have for you today. Thank you for listening. Love it that you're here. If you're in burnout, you must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance and enjoyment inside work and out. If you're in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk with me at burnout.dexrandall.com. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.