When people meet me and learn of my background as a golfer, they sometimes ask me how I took something that was essentially a hobby or avocation during my childhood, got good enough at it to be named captain of my high school’s golfing team, then built a career in the sport I love and about which I’m very passionate.
I will tell them that there are several things to consider. I believe I have a natural athletic ability that helps me approach the game from a physical standpoint. I’ve developed a mental focus and toughness that enables me to zero in on my goals and reach or exceed them. I also have a strong competitive drive.
More than anything, though, I consider myself disciplined. As I transition into full-time entrepreneurship, opening my own golf complex, I realize that this quality is perhaps the most valuable that an athlete or business leader can have. Very rarely will you meet a leading sports figure or top business leader who hasn’t achieved success through a huge helping of discipline. You really need it to not only succeed but exceed.
I’ve learned throughout my professional career that succeeding isn’t always easy. There are many roadblocks, obstacles and challenges along the way that can frustrate and impede progress. And although it might sound a bit clichéd, it’s true: these types of experiences make you stronger.
In the business world, disciplined people excel when they overcome challenges. Now these can be large-scale challenges or small annoying ones. But they happen. And when they do, they force us to accept them head-on, use our problem-solving skills to deal with them and find solutions that address and eliminate them. A strong leader is one who can deal with stressful situations while keeping a relatively cool head. While there are lots of business leaders who scream and stress over the smallest things, I’ve been privileged in my career to interact with many leaders who approach problems rationally and logically, and without excessive emotion.
So how do you become disciplined? Well, first and foremost, you have to be willing to work harder than anyone else. When you’re disciplined, you’re not satisfied with the status quo. You want to excel, and be the best at what you do. This might require you to put in more hours than anyone else or learn new things and expand your base of knowledge.
You also need to develop a strong mindset that keeps you going when it’s tempting to give up or stop. Volumes have been written about the power of positive thinking, but it’s more than that. You need to develop a winning attitude. Napoleon Hill, author of the landmark business bestseller Think and Grow Rich , wrote, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” I truly believe this.
Becoming disciplined requires patience. This is a very difficult quality to have, especially today, when there’s so much instant gratification available to us all the time. But in business it doesn’t work that way. Because we deal with other people and situations with varying time frames, we often have to depend on others’ decisions that don’t happen as quickly as we’d like or processes that take time to accomplish. A disciplined person accepts this and is willing to accept that everything isn’t going to happen immediately.
A relatively recent concept that directly influences discipline is emotional intelligence. This simply means that by understanding your own feelings you can understand and evaluate others. According to author Daniel Goleman , a former New York Times science writer who has written extensively on this topic, the five pillars of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
I advise keeping a healthy mindset, working harder than your competitors and focus on the goals and objectives that are meaningful to you. As you become more disciplined, the challenges just might become fun and the mountains might become molehills. Good luck!