The Freedom of Self-Discipline

Quote of the Week

“Success is neither magical or mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”

— Jim Rohn

The Freedom of Self-Discipline

by Philip E. Humbert, Ph.D

There is a great paradox about personal freedom. We all long for freedom and the ability to “do whatever I want.” And yet, the people who seem to have the most freedom also happen to be the most disciplined, the most focused and self-directed.

For many people, personal freedom is about doing whatever they want, whenever they want. For them, freedom means being able to sleep all morning, to act on impulse, to charge their credit cards to the max, and take vacations. Now, none of those things are “bad,” but taken to the extreme, they lead to something very different than personal freedom. They lead to debt. They lead to chaos or conflict or frustration. An undisciplined life leads to disappointment and pain.

In fact, I’ve often thought that “discipline” is inevitable. We either discipline ourselves, or life brings other people to do it for us. We either practice self-discipline or pretty soon our creditors “encourage” us to work more hours. Our bosses “encourage” us to work harder or longer or smarter. Our families “encourage” us to do our work, fulfill our responsibilities and “behave ourselves.” Taken to the extreme, eventually people with uniforms and titles like “guard” or “warden” will structure our time and our lives for us.

I know I’m painting a pretty grim picture, but I think it makes a point.

We either learn to structure our lives around worth-while goals, or we pay a penalty. We either manage our lives on our own, or we lose the very freedom we cherish.

Children are not expected to know how to structure their lives, so parents teach them. Parents get them up for school and remind them to make their beds or do their chores. Parents are charged with teaching children that joy is the REWARD for effort and discipline. I think this is one of the great benefits of competitive sports. As children practice, work hard and fulfill their commitments, they gain skill, and skill leads to victory and celebration on the playing field, and in life.

The paradox of freedom is that it is the RESULT of a great life, not the raw material. If we start by living a free and undisciplined life, true freedom slips away. It gets lost in a thousand petty or careless “little” decisions that eventually deny us the life we want.

Begin with a handful of daily commitments that suit your unique situation. Begin with the discipline of meditation or exercise or “paying yourself first” each month. Begin by reading a few minutes every day, or making one extra sales call. But begin! Build the habit of personal discipline.

It’s the road to personal freedom.

Copyright(c) 2007, all rights reserved. Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert – Author, Speaker & Success Strategist. Visit his website for over 300 articles, tips and ideas like this one, and be sure to subscribe to his weekly newsletter! Visit him at

Coaching Call to Action

In what area of your life would you like to add some self-discipline? Choose an area and add one or two consistent daily actions. See what you can create this week!