The Virtue That Always Leads to Success

Someone recently asked me what it feels like to not get scared anymore. They see my two businesses and thought I only was frightened when I launched them.

My answer was not what they expected, 

"I am scared everyday"

Starting a business, a blog, or a new job is initially scary. Will it succeed? What if you mess up? If it's a new job, how do you act, what do you say, where do you eat lunch, and of course will you enjoy what you do?

Yes, those are real fears, yet in reality, starting is the easy part. When you begin something new, nothing is expected. There is a grace period where you can make mistakes, look like a rookie, and continually receive help from more experienced people.

You receive less assistance and more is expected once you have been at a job for a year or your business makes it past the 12-month mark. I was happy when Elisha Consulting, my primary business, made it to the first year anniversary. Your MBA Purpose is getting close to 1,000 unique visitors every month (THANK YOU!!). It was easy to look at those milestones with excitement.

But now what?

I placed too much attention on the goal of my business lasting a year because I have seen the same statistics as you, anywhere from 80-90% of businesses fail in the early stages. Maybe you have been on a job for a 6-months or a year and are asking yourself, what do I do now?

Relaying back to the statement I was asked, how does it feel to not get scared anymore? The opposite is the truth. Each day is more difficult than the last as I have seen a tiny amount of success.

During this past year, I have prayed, researched, and studied to find there is one virtue which keeps coming up as a precursor to large success . . . discipline.

The Power of Discipline 

"Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they're making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that's the difference." ~ Lou Holtz

Here is an open secret about your professional life. There are many days where you will not want to work. You could love your job, run your own business, or make a positive impact on the world around you.

Yet, you will have days, weeks, or months where you are not motivated to do your work. It could be the weather, maybe a tough project, an illness, or something else. I don't care how mentally strong you are, you will not want to do your job 100% of the time. This can be devastating if you have your own business since there is nobody to back you up.

When these times occur, what should you do? The answer is simple in theory and difficult in practice, be disciplined.

Newsflash, you are likely not the most creative, intelligent, best-looking, or witty person you know. You can probably instantly think of someone in your network who holds those virtues over you. But there is nothing stopping you from being the most disciplined.

Discipline is the action of continually working towards a goal. Eventually, you will get there as your daily objective never changes. It is essentially the "compound effect," years might pass, but there is something amazing about constantly doing the same thing over and over. You end up a successful expert.  

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." ~ Bruce Lee

Don't believe me?

Let's Look at Examples 

It would be easy to look at professional athletes, best-selling authors, or billionaire entrepreneurs to see their level of disciplined commitment. However, they can be hard to relate to.

Over the years, I have worked as a personal trainer and college instructor. Two people stand out as not being the most talented, but they are some of the most disciplined people I have ever met.

Becoming a Fitness Expert 

A decade ago, when I was a personal trainer, Emily came to me. She had never worked out, was overweight, and not aging well. As a freshman at Baylor University, she kept gaining weight and was headed for a lifetime of unhealthiness. 

We started slowly. At first, we worked on push-ups, crunches, squats, and other routine movements. We began a simple meal plan, nothing crazy. Instead, it was about replacing bad food with healthy options. I saw her three times a week.

Within a few months, she was losing weight, getting toned, and started to enjoy working out. Discipline has an amazing effect of changing our mind to like things which initially might be unenjoyable. 

After 3-months we scaled down to once a week. After another 3-months it was bi-weekly workouts. Then another 3-months passed and we met monthly to change up her exercises. Within one-year, she was completely healthy. What happened next was incredible.

She decided to become a certified personal trainer. She was hired at the same gym where I worked and I became the employee she shadowed. Think about that, in the course of 2 years, Emily went from unhealthy to working alongside me because of one trait. Discipline. 

Achieving a Ph.D.

I was fortunate to teach amazing students at the University of Houston and Houston Community College. Being a college instructor is one of the shining highlights of my adult life, and I hope to teach again in the future.

As an instructor, I saw many intelligent students. Some of them would go on to attain great jobs, others kept pursuing higher degrees, yet one stood out as the most impressive. Don't get me wrong, she is one of the smartest people I have ever met, but her level of discipline is unmatched.

Her family came from Eastern Europe and her parents worked hard to put their children through school. This student ended up in two of my classes, one an Honors Course. The great thing about Honors Corses is that you can really push intellectual limits. The bad thing is students know they are talented. At times they will not do necessary work to improve since they have been told how gifted they are their entire life.

Not this student, she always went above and beyond. Her reading habits are still the best I have ever seen and she constantly improved through discipline. As I taught her, we worked on her Ph.D. applications where she was accepted to almost everywhere she applied with full-funding. Let's just say, her level of success allowed her to turn down Duke with full-funding for another program that better fit her research. 

Yes, she is incredibly intelligent, yet her greatest attribute is discipline. 

What About You?

Hopefully, the above stories have convinced you. If they haven't, do some research. You will start to see the most successful people on the planet are the most disciplined. Don't look at outliers who fell into success. Instead, look at the majority of high-achievers. 

You will see a pattern of discipline in all of them. They might wake up tired, sick, unmotivated, or just want to do something else. Yet, they keep going forward. 

Here are some simple steps you can do to become more disciplined.

  • Do you want to read more? Pick a book and read only one chapter a day. Motivation can be an enemy of disciple since people get so motivated they burn-out quickly. Discipline is about consistently over a long period of time. Soon you will be reading multiple chapters daily. If you don't know what to read, check out our reading list
  • Do you want to become healthier? Replace bad food with good food and exercise 30-minutes a day 5-times a week. It is easier than it sounds. Replacing food means looking at your diet and seeing what can be altered. Can you switch some carbs for veggies, what about eliminating soda for water? Don't go crazy, simple steps are all that is needed. For exercise, download a fitness app, go to a cardio course, or just walk around your neighborhood. You won't become the Crossfit World Champion overnight. Take a disciplined approach and within 6-months you will be in great shape.
  • Do you want a new job or to start a business? This one is easier than most make it out to be. Every Sunday, write out your professional goals, i.e. where you want to work or the business you want to start. Then write out the one thing you will do that week to get closer to your goal. No more and no less. Do this every Sunday, you will see momentum soon enough.

Imagine if by this time next year you had self-educated yourself, became healthier, found your dream job, or started a business.

You can easily achieve those goals through discipline. When you don't want to read, remind yourself it's just one chapter. When you don't want to work out, remember it's just 30-minutes out of your day. When you are discouraged about work, focus on the one goal for the week.

The feeling of not wanting to do will pass and on the other side of your disciplined decisions is a better life.

I write all this as I am going through the same struggles. I don't feel like writing, I don't want to look for more clients, and the future is equally scary and exciting. However, I will continue to wake up and write, become better at my job, and move toward my goals. Doing so will only increase my level of success.

Even when it is a little scary.

Matt Avery