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As a nation, we have the technology to conquer outer space, cure-devastating diseases and even to use our mental capabilities to create alternative fuels, as well as other technological marvels. However, as individuals we face an equally important challenge and that is the development of personal discipline. I feel that personal discipline is possibly the most difficult and the important achievement skill of all.

I define discipline thusly: doing WHAT you should do, WHEN you should do it, WHETHER you like it or not. Certainly that sounds simple and it is, but very likely developing personal discipline is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever attempt in your lifetime.

As a teacher for over 25 years, I’ve noticed a weakness, a basic unwillingness to cope with unpleasantness of any sort or difficulty. It seems that whenever confronted with unpleasantness or difficulty we want to run away, turn our heads, or just simply hope it disappears. In this sense, discipline is the ability to continue on, to not give up in the face of adversity, to push against or simply endure. It requires effort on your part to do, WHAT you should do, WHEN you should do it, WHETHER you like it or not.

Sometimes people say that not having discipline is freedom. Simply doing whatever it is you want to do…in other words, freedom to be. Actually, it isn’t freedom at all, but bondage. Worse than that, a lack of personal discipline is slavery! Yes, slavery! When I cannot or will not say “no”, or I always pursue the avenue of least resistance, or I seek the promise and fulfillment of immediate gratification, I allow myself to be handcuffed, tied down, shackled and bound by any desire, any impulse, any yearning that comes my way and that is not only slavery, but it’s self- imposed slavery. The results are simple: lost potential, stress, and most importantly lost self-respect. And in most cases a life that exists in a state of extended mediocrity rather then pursuing it’s potential. One thing is for sure, once you begin the practice of personal discipline your life will change and change immediately. It will be noticed by those around you your friends, your associates, your co-workers, and particularly by your supervisors. Why? Simply because it’s not practiced by many. It will set you up as an example to follow, it will set you up as a role model, and that example is needed NOW more than ever before than any other time in the history of our nation.

Mack Newton

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