Waking up when it is still dark outside is hard. The sound of an alarm clock ringing repeatedly at 4:30 A.M., only to peer through the blinds and realize it looks exactly the same outside as it did before sleep came, can be demoralizing. The temptation is to ignore the sound of an alarm clock, and press the snooze button or outright ignore the sound of the alarm altogether, but the decision to get the day started was already made. The commitment was made to get up, and even if it was made to no one but yourself, the commitment must be kept or it doesn’t mean a damn thing.
The Oxford Dictionary defines discipline as training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way. That’s a plausible reason to wake up 3 ½ hours before work to fix three meals and hit the gym before the grind of an 8-to-5. Discipline isn’t necessarily something to be celebrated; it’s more of a necessary evil. Discipline helps build consistency. Having discipline and consistency merged with structure can be a beautiful thing, even while it takes some time and some trial and error to get there (Jones, 2016). It may be possible to have one without the other, but it’s better to not have to find out.
Once the two are joined together in harmony, what seemed as a task becomes normal. Kobe Bryant has illustrated discipline and consistency throughout his 20 years in the NBA and how the two qualities helped him become one of the greatest players in NBA history. There are countless stories of his workouts, getting in the gym and pushing his body, mind and soul in the middle of the night for over 3 hours while his teammates slept into the night and in the morning (Wallace, 2015). Such was the case during the summer of 2012 as a member of the 2008 U.S. men’s basketball team. His teammates met for team breakfast at 8 A.M. only to see that Bryant had already gone through a grueling workout, further illustrating the discipline and consistency he has long been known for. Michelle Obama illustrated the traits of discipline and consistency as a student at Princeton and, later, at Harvard Law School. She had to overcome feelings of being overwhelmed and social isolation with a fierce determination and ferocious work ethic (Gutin, 2015).
Discipline and consistency helped Maria das Gracas Silver Foster become the CEO of Petroleo Brasiliero SA, the world’s biggest deep-water oil producer and the first female CEO in the company’s history (Orihuela & Millard, 2012). Foster grew up in a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janiero, went on to graduate with a master’s degree in nuclear engineering and a second master’s degree in business management, both from institutions of higher education in Rio de Janiero. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, harnessed his work ethic in various directions; from making clear his intention of becoming the valedictorian of his high school class to establishing a summer education camp for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders while he, himself, was a teenager, Bezos illustrated the traits of relentless, curiousity and determination early in his life (Bayers, 1999).
Four individuals in four distinct segments of the professional world found ways to use shared characteristics to achieve success and reach the pinnacle of their professions. People do not become great by being lazy, and while there is luck involved in regard to being at the right place at the right time, the characteristics to even allow luck to come to life must be practiced and honed to the point where they become habit. Discipline and consistency are what allows a thankless task such as waking up while it’s still dark to become an action that becomes one that is embraced. Discipline and consistency turn making 1,000 shots a day into a challenge and not a chore. Discipline and consistency helps turn the redundancy of studying into a never-ending quest for knowledge, and discipline and consistency aid in turning dreams into reality.
Image courtesy of elitefts.com.