I think we hear the term “self discipline,” and immediately we think “punishment.” 

After all, “discipline” MEANS punishment, doesn’t it? To “discipline” a child is to punish a child, right? 

Not so much. 

“Discipline” actually means “to follow.” It’s based on the word “disciple,” or follower. 

If we’re disciplined in our diet, it means we’re following certain nutritional guidelines. 

If we’re disciplined in our time management, it means we’re following a schedule. 

If we’re disciplined in our speech, it means we’re following certain standards of what to say or not say. 

The concept of “discipline” get wrapped up in “punishment” for one reason: many people can’t think of ways to get other people to follow their instructions EXCEPT to threaten them with punishment.

Many of us are VERY disciplined in LOTS of ways…but we don’t recognize it, because we only associate “discipline” with “punishment.” 

I guarantee there are ways you are self-disciplined…and you didn’t have to be punished in order to acquire that self-discipline. 

The ways you are self-discipline may not be acknowledged or appreciated by the people around you…but that doesn’t mean you have no self-discipline. 

Often times, the people around us want to frame us NOT doing what THEY want us to do as evidence that we lack discipline or character…when the truth is, we just lack the inclination to do what THEY want us to do. 

I’ve seen kids who are absolute champions when they’re doing stuff they LOVE to do, get called “undisciplined” because they don’t get their homework done. 

I’ve seen adults who are EXPERTS on things they’re interested in, get called “undisciplined” because they’re underperforming at their work. 

There are LOTS of reasons why we might struggle with school or work…and I dare say “lack of discipline” isn’t even in the top ten. 

MOST people WANT to do well in their work. MOST kids WANT to do well at school. 

We HAVE self discipline. We HAVE motivation. I’ve worked with hundreds of people of many ages, and I’ve NEVER met someone who was WITHOUT discipline or motivation. 

I HAVE, however, met plenty of people who were trying to access their discipline or motivation in ways that almost guaranteed they wouldn’t be able to. 

It can be really discouraging when our brains don’t quite work like the people around us. 

When the ways we are motivated or the ways in which we have self-discipline don’t match up with what others in our lives think they “should” look like, we can end up feeling deficient, like unmotivated, undisciplined losers. 

I promise you: there is a code to accessing the self-discipline and motivation you already possess. It’s like a companion lock inside your head and heart. 

It may not be the same combination that works for the people around you…but it exists. 

You DON’T need a whole new brain to succeed at work or school. 

You DON’T need a personality transplant. 

You DON’T need to be more punished or held to a higher standards. 

What you DO need, at least for starters, is to get curious about what actually moves and motivates you, what keeps you on task…and, ideally, to have people around you who are also curious about this. 

It’s frustrating when others try to cram us into their box…and we don’t quite fit. 

We WANT to fit. But sometimes we just don’t. 

Don’t give up. 

Remember that it’s not YOU who is deficient. 

You just haven’t consciously figured out the combination to YOUR lock yet. 

You will. 

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