Someday Isle. Approximately 80% of the population lives on it: “Someday, I’ll do that.”, “Someday I’ll do this”. But they’ll never do it. Excusitis has become a real disease. Losers make excuses, winners make progress. The first step to become successful? Vote yourself off the island! No more excuses!
Self-discipline is considered the most important characteristic in becoming successful. It is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. You must have it to resist the lure of excuses. Self-discipline can also be defined by self-mastery or self-control. It is also linked with your self-esteem: the more you practice self-mastery and self-control, the more you like and value yourself. Your sense of self-respect and personal pride increases.
The law of least resistance says that people invariably seek the fastest and easiest way to get the things they want, right now, with little or no concern for the long-term consequences of their behaviour. People , in general, do what is easy and fun rather than what is necessary for success. The law of least resistance is therefore the worst enemy of success. Most successful people are long-term thinkers. They look into the future as far as they can to determine the kind of people they want to become and the goals they want to achieve. They then come back to the present and determine the things that they have to do NOW to achieve their desired futures.
“Bad habits are easy to form, but hard to live with. Good habits are hard to form, but easy to live with. Everything is hard before it’s easy.” , Goethe said. All good habits are learnable.
2) THE CHAPTERS EXPLAINED
Chapter 1: Self-discipline and Success
“The elevator to success is out of order, but the stairs are always open’
The first things you should do is to determine how YOU, yourself, define success. If you we’re able to make your life perfect in every way, how would it look like? H.L. Hunt, a great oil man, lists 3 requirements for success. First , decide exactly what it is you want in life. Second, determine the price that you’re going to have to pay to get the things you want. And third, resolve to pay that price. What distinct successful from unsuccessful people is that they are willing to pay that price, no matter what.
The Law of Cause and Effect says that if you want to achieve success in any area, you must determine how success is achieved in that area and then practice those skills and activities repeatedly until you achieve the same results. It is therefore important to continuously keep learning from experts or other successful people in order to achieve the success you desire.
Chapter 2: Self-discipline and Character
“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you.”
The person you are today, your innermost character, is the sum total of all your choices and decisions in life up to this date. You are a ‘choosing’ organism. You are constantly making choices. Every choice you make is a statement about your true values and priorities. The payoff for becoming a person of character is tremendous. When you choose the higher value over the lower, the more difficult over the easy, the right over the good, you feel good about yourself. Your self-esteem increases. You like and respect yourself more and you’ll have a bigger sense of personal pride. Even more, others will start respecting and admiring you. Doors will be opened for you.
Basically, there are 3 parts of your personality: your self-ideal, your self-image and your self-esteem. Your self-ideal is that part of your mind that is composed of your values, virtues, ideals, goals, aspirations, and your idea of the very best person that you can possibly be. Successful people are very clear about who they are and what they believe, their values. They’re not confused or indecisive but firm and resolute when it comes to any decision in which a value is involved. Your self-image is your inner mirror. It is the way we see and think about ourselves. When you see yourself as calm, positive, truthful, and possessed of high character, you’ll behave with greater strength and personal power. Your self-esteem is ‘how much you like yourself’. It is the way you feel about yourself, your emotional core. The more you see yourself as a valuable and important person, the more positive and optimistic you’ll be. And the more you like yourself, the more you like others, and the more they like you in return. It’s vicious circle!
Part of being successful is acting in a way that is consistent with your highest values. If you do that, you will feel good about yourself. Whenever you compromise your values, you’ll feel bad about yourself. But remember : living in consistency with your values asks tremendous willpower and self-discipline.
Chapter 3: Self-discipline and Responsibility
Your ability and willingness to discipline yourself to accept personal responsibility are essential to happiness, health, success, achievement, and personal leadership. You are in charge and in the driver’s seat. It’s up to you to accept complete responsibility for your financial situation, your family situation, your health and your emotions. Accept 100 % responsibility for everything you are and everything you become. Never complain. Never blame other persons or things that happen. Even for the response to unexpected events , you still are RESPONS-ible.
Chapter 4: Self-discipline and Goals
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
Setting goals and making plans is about taking time to decide what you really want in each area of your life. Apparently, only 3 percent of adults have written goals and plans, and this 3 percent earns more than all of the other 97 percent put together. Why? Because if you have a clear goal and a plan to achieve it, you therefore have a track to run on every single day. You don’t get side-tracked by distractions , getting lost or going astray. The funny thing is that people think they have goals, meanwhile, what they really have are hopes and wishes. Writing down your goals, making plans to accomplish them and then working on those goals daily increases the likelihood of achieving these goals and the probability of being successful.
Your brain typically has a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism is the temptation to follow the path of least resistance and functions almost automatically. The success mechanism however is triggered by a goal. When you decide on a goal, you override the failure mechanism and this can change the direction of your life.
The 7-step method for achieving your goals:
- Decide exactly what you want
- Write it down
- Set a deadline for your goal
- Make a list of everything you can think of that you could possibly do to achieve your goal: Determine the obstacles and difficulties you’ll have to overcome. Decide on the additional skills and knowledge you’ll need to achieve your goal. Think of people who can help you achieving your goal. Make clear everything you’ll have to do to achieve your goal.
- Organize your list by both sequence and priority
- Take action on your plan immediately
- Do something that every day that moves you in the direction of your major goal
Chapter 5: Self-discipline and Personal Excellence
“We are what we repeatedly do; Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
Your most precious financial asset is your earning ability, your primary source of cash in life. You can develop that asset throughout your life. In fact, your earning ability is like a muscle: you can train it by continuously working on yourself (every day, week, month) and upgrading your knowledge and skills. Or: you can neglect it, and then it becomes weak.
To earn more means to learn more. Almost every important skill is learnable. You can learn anything you need to learn to achieve any goal you would want to achieve. Each time you learn and practice a new skill, your earning ability increases. To become a master in your field, you have to strive for personal excellence by learning things every day . This includes learning from ‘top’ people in that particular field (law of cause and effect). Analyze what they do, which characteristics they have, how they organize their days, how they walk, talk, behave, etc. Follow the leaders, not the followers.
The 3 percent formula says that you should try to invest 3 percent of your income into yourself. For example, if your annual income is 50.000 USD you should invest 1500 USD back into yourself in order to maintain and upgrade your knowledge and skills.
Brian Tracy furthermore lists 3 simple steps to become the best in your field:
- Read sixty minutes in your field each day
- Listen to educational audio programs in your car
- Attend courses and seminars in your field regularly
To become a master in your field, you’ll need approximately 7 years or 10 000 hours of hard work. Talent is highly overrated. On average, you’ll need 2 extra hours a day in order to move from average performance to the superior performance, at whatever you choose to do.
Watching television can make you poor. The average adult watches about 5 hours of television each day. This is obnoxious. Psychologists have proved that the more television you watch, the lower are your levels of self-esteem. You start ‘disrespecting’ yourself after several hours of television. In addition, you gain weight and become physically unfit. To conclude: your television can make you rich, but only if you turn it off. Instead , use the free time you have to work on yourself and becoming a better, smarter and more competent person.
Chapter 6: Self-discipline and Courage
“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the control of fear.”
Everyone is afraid. This is natural and normal. Fear is often necessary to preserve life, prevent injury and guard against financial mistakes. The most common fear is the fear of failure or loss. At the same time, fear often stops us from taking action and achieving great things. The difference between a brave person and a coward, is that a brave person disciplines himself to confront, deal with and act in spite of the fear, while the coward allows himself be dominated and controlled by the fear.
A useful manner to overcome fear is called the “act as if” – method: you walk, talk and act exactly as you would if you were completely unafraid in a particular situation. Aristoteles taught that you can develop a certain quality by acting as if you already had that quality in every situation where it is called for. In modern terms, this is called : ‘Fake it until you make it’.
The Law of Reversibility says that ‘if you feel a certain way, you will act in a manner consistent with that that feeling.’ So If you feel unafraid, you will act accordingly.
Psychologists have found out that some fears are bundled together in the subconscious mind. It seems that the fear of rejection is bundled together with the fear of public speaking. So when you would master public speaking, your fear of rejection would disappear as well.
In life, you need 2 types of courage. First, you need the courage to take action; this means to go “all in” without any guarantee of success and a high possibility of failure in the short term. The second type of courage is the courageous patience or staying power: this is the ability to hang in there and continue working and fighting after you’ve gone all in and before you have seen any results or rewards.
Chapter 7: Self-discipline and Persistence
“Beware of endeavoring to become a great man in a hurry. One such attempt in 10.000 may succeed.”
Persistence is self-discipline in action. The ability to persist in the face of all setbacks and temporary failures is essential to success in life. Persistence is also linked with your self-esteem: each time you persist and force yourself to continue on, your self-esteem goes up. You will feel happier and better about yourself. Your ability to persist can be increased by optimism, the confidence in yourself to eventually succeed. Look for the good in every situation. Seek the valuable lesson in every difficulty.
In life, it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. All that matters is how many times you get back up. If you continuously get back up, you must eventually reach your goal.
Chapter 8: Self-discipline and Work
Among top executives, the 2 most important qualities during work are:
- The ability to set priorities and work on high-value tasks
- The discipline to get the job done quickly and well
The average employee wastes around 50% of his/her time on “nonwork-related” activities such as chit chatting with co-workers, long lunch and coffee breaks, surfing on the internet, reading the newspaper, etc. Brian Tracy argues that it is really necessary to separate the relevant from the irrelevant. The Pareto-principle can even be applied in this case: 80% of the value of what you accomplish comes from 20% of your tasks. Your goal is to identify those tasks and concentrate on doing them well.
The Law of Three helps you in this prioritizing goal. It basically comes down to making a list of all the things that you do in one week, from Monday till the end of the week; Afterwards, you ask yourself which are the 3 things/activities/tasks that contribute the most value to the company. These 3 primary things should contribute around 80-90% of value to the company. Your task is to identify them and discipline yourself to do them all day long.
You will always be surrounded by people that draw you away from doing the things that are most important. They are usually time wasters themselves. Try to avoid them. The key is to really work all the time you are at work. This takes tremendous self-discipline: you must constantly fight against distractions and interruptions so you can get back to the essential: work. A simple three-part formula for success at work might be: Come in a little earlier, work a little harder, and stay a little later.
Chapter 9: Self-discipline and Leadership
Simply put, a leader is someone ‘who takes responsibility for results’. You become a leader when you develop a clear vision for yourself and for your company, your life or your area of responsibility. A leader has the ability to project forward into the future and develop a clear picture of where they want them or their organizations to go.
As a leader, you should discipline yourself to be a role model. Everyone is watching you and doing and saying things based on your behaviour. Becoming a leader therefore requires a special responsibility. It is the responsibility to discipline and control your words and behaviours in such a way that you bring about the best possible results for your organization or for other people.
Self-control is a major requirement for becoming a leader. Only if you prove to others that you’re in complete control of yourself, they’ll develop confidence to put you in that leadership position. Therefore a leader should be reliable, calm, positive and relaxed , no matter what is happening.
Chapter 10: Self-discipline and Business
The first law in economics is scarcity. This means that there is never enough of anything for everyone who wants it. More specific, there are never enough customers for you to sell everything you want to sell. There are never enough sales revenues and profits to achieve all financial goals and there are never enough good people to work with to help achieve your business goals.
Therefore, the first law in business is competition. Tremendous discipline is required to attract the scare money of customers toward purchasing YOUR product or service. You must compete for that scarce money of customers, by offering a product that they want, need and will pay for. Be clear about your competitive advantage and your unique selling proposition (USP). What is it about your product or service that makes it superior and more valuable for a customer than other similar products or services?
When you are a new business person or starting a new business, you will be wrong A LOT. It is not unusual for an entrepreneur to be wrong 80-90% of the time in the beginning of his career. It requires self-discipline to the face the possibility of being wrong in your most cherished assumptions and beliefs. That’s why, as an entrepreneur, you have to do your homework before committing to the business: create a business plan and study carefully every aspect of your business. Try to test your assumptions rather than jumping into it and hoping for the best.
The purpose of a business is not to make profit, but to offer value and therefore creating and keeping customers. Profits are just a result of creating and keeping a sufficient number of customers. The key to long-term profitability is recommendations and referrals. Tremendous self-discipline is needed to make customers satisfied. This means that they buy from you, then buy again AND then recommend you to their friends (=referral business).
Chapter 11: Self-discipline and Sales
“Nothing happens until a sales takes place.”
Sales are highly related with business success or failure. The biggest obstacle in obtaining a successful sales career is the fear of rejection. So many salespeople start to engage in ‘displacement’ activities to avoid being rejected such as making fewer calls, checking the internet, chatting with co-workers, shuffling paperwork, etc. Keep in mind that a salesperson in only WORKING when he or she is ear to ear (on the phone) or face to face with someone who can and will buy within a reasonable period of time (prospects).
The key in sales is to spend more time with better prospects. Discipline yourself to call on or see more prospects. When you increase the number of customer contacts, you’ll increase the number of sales. This is The Law of Probabilities.
You have 2 responsibilities when it comes to achieving success in sales:
- Never run out of prospects. Always have more prospects to call on than you have time during the day.
- Study, read, listen to audio programs, and upgrade your skills in prospecting, presenting, and closing sales. Remember that all sales skills are
A successful salesman is optimistic and positive, eliminating the fear of rejection. In that way, he or she can call prospects continuously without losing enthusiasm.
Chapter 12: Self-discipline and Money
The major reason for financial failure is NOT the low amount of money that is earned. It is the lack of self-discipline and the inability to delay short-term gratification. Most people have the tendency to spend everything they earn in the short-term. Our tendency to associate spending with happiness goes back to a conditioned response in our childhood. Whenever we received money as a child, we spent it on candy. That was what made us happy. Nowadays money equals enjoyment. The very first thing you think about when you earn money is how to spend it in order to feel that short-term ‘high’, happiness or other pleasure.
Our task is to rewire our response about money and start associating happiness with saving money. Open a financial freedom account and save money. Think long-term. The very act of disciplining yourself to save money will make you feel stronger and more in control of your life. The saying ‘it takes money to make money’ makes sense. The higher the amount on your financial freedom account grows, the more money and opportunities you’ll have to deploy those funds intelligently so that they yield an even higher rate of return.
Financial advisers suggest that you save around 15 – 20 % of your income to gain financial independence in the future. To realize this gradually, the one percent formula can be used: this method suggests that you start saving 1% of your income and learn to live of the other 99%. Each month, you increase the saving level by 1 percent. So by the end of the year, you’ll have saved around 10% of your income. A great book on this topic is “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason. We summarized it here for you 😉
Chapter 13: Self-discipline and Time-management
You can’t save time but you can spend it differently. Brian Tracy suggest to always spend time on what you most value. It is by looking at HOW you spend your time that you know what is really important to you. Time management is the ability to choose the sequence of events. By exerting self-discipline, you can choose what to do first, second and not at all. You always have the choice.
A lack of self-discipline in time managements leads to procrastination. A lot of people procrastinate their top, ‘high-value’ tasks continually , and instead waste their time on tasks of low or no value. Time management is about setting priorities and sticking to them.
A simple time management system to overcome procrastination is the A B C D E – METHOD. Each day, you start by making a list of everything you have to do that day. Actually, it’s even better to make the list the evening beforehand. Afterwards, you apply this method:
- A = must do (serious consequences for non-completion)
- B = should do (mild consequences for doing or not doing)
- C = nice to do (no consequences whether you do it or not)
- D = delegate
- E = eliminate (stop all tasks and activities that are no longer essential for you)
Look at all the activities or tasks on your list and then write an A, B, C, D or E next to it before you start. You can even rank “A-tasks”, for example by writing A-1, A-2, A-3, and so on. Same for B and C. The rule? Never do a B-task when you have an A task left undone. ALWAYS start with the higher-value task. It takes tremendous self-discipline to select and work on your most important task. Do it: you’ll feel like a winner when you eventually completed it.
Always ask yourself: What is the most valuable use of my time right now? Your ability to organize your life and to select your highest priority is a key measure of your intelligence and effectiveness.
Chapter 14: Self-discipline and Problem-Solving
Life can be described as a continuous succession of problems, like waves of the ocean. They never stop. Therefore, in order to be successful in life, you have to be able to solve those problems effectively. Top people are good at solving problems. They are solution-oriented.
In order to solve a problem Brain Tracy suggests to ‘keep your mind clear’ whenever a problem occurs. This means that you have to discipline yourself to stay cool and unemotional. It will enable you to think more clearly, to analyze the situation objectively and to make better decisions. The moment you become upset or angry about it, your neocortex or ‘thinking brain’ shuts down and the paleo cortex or ‘emotional brain’ takes over. This makes you think in terms of black and white, yes or no, or doing something or doing nothing. You miss out on thinking ‘in shades of grey’. You miss all different possible ways to deal with the problem effectively.
Effective problem solving comes with 9 steps:
- Take the time to define the problem clearly: “what exactly is the problem?”
- Ask yourself: Is it really a problem?
- Ask yourself: what else is the problem? Try to define the problem is several ways in order to find the best solutions
- Ask yourself: How did this problem occur? What is the cause? Can I define all possible solutions? Which is the best solution at this time?
- Make a decision
- Assign responsibility
- Set a measure for the decision : What are you trying to accomplish with the decision and how will you measure results?
Chapter 15: Self-discipline and Happiness
Happiness comes with self-discipline and control. The Law of control says that you feel happy to the degree to which you are in control of your own life. Psychologists call this your “locus of control”. Unhappiness basically arrives when you feel controlled by outside circumstances. Therefore a distinction can be made between your internal locus of control (happy) and external locus of control (unhappy). You have an internal locus of control when you feel that you are in charge, you make your own decisions, and happens to you in life is largely determined by yourself. On the other hand, you have an external locus of control when you are not in control or when you have little ability to direct your own life. So decide today to take complete charge of your life and become happy.
Happiness is often a by-product that comes to you when you are engaged in doing something that you really enjoy.
There 5 ingredients of happiness among Brian Tracy:
- Health and energy: Only with a continuous flow of energy and a pain-free health, we can be truly happy.
- Happy relationships : “Man is a social animal”, Aristoteles once said. 85% of your happiness will come from your relations with other people.
- Meaningful work: Happiness requires doing things that keep us active and engaged, and give us a sense of fulfilment. It’s about making a contribution of some kind.
- Financial independence: work toward financial freedom throughout your life. The happiest people are still those who don’t need to worry about money.
- Self-actualization: This is the feeling that you are becoming everything you are capable of becoming.
Chapter 16: Self-discipline and Personal Health
Your number one goal for yourself should be to live as long and as well as you possibly can. This requires tremendous self-discipline and health habits. The 7 key health habits include:
- Eat regularly (rather than starving, fasting or gorging)
- Eat lightly: overeating makes you sluggish and tired, whereas eating lightly makes you feel healthy and alert.
- Don’t snack between meals
- Exercise regularly: the ideal is 30 minutes a day or 200 minutes per week: doing walking, running, swimming and/or using exercising equipment.
- Wear a seatbelt: most common cause of premature death is traffic accidents.
- Don’t smoke
- Drink alcohol in moderation
Amongst Tracy, excellent health is a combination of:
- Proper weight: requires regular exercise and a proper diet.
- An ideal diet: based on lean-source proteins, fruits & vegetables and lots of water
- Regular exercise: do aerobic exercise (walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc) for a long life. The ‘exercise effect’ usually clicks in about 25 minutes of exercise. This is when endorphins are released by your brain. It can be addictive.
- Good rest : Sleep around 8 hours a day + take breaks, vacations and weekends off.
- Positive attitude: stay optimistic, and you’ll live longer!
Brian Tracy also talks about avoiding the three white poisons:
- Sugar : no candy, cake, pastries, desserts, soft drinks, canned fruit, etc.
- Salt: Too much salt makes your body retaining water in order to hold that salt in suspension. It hinders you from losing weight. If you drink enough water and skip excess salt consumption, your body will release all the excess fluids and therefore losing weight.
- Flour: eliminate all white flour products from your diet (breads, pastries, pastas, buns, rolls, and anything else made with white flour)
Chapter 17: Self-discipline and Physical Fitness
Physical fitness specialists say that you need to exercise about 200-300 minutes per week to enjoy maximum levels of physical well-being. Among experts, the best time to exercise is in the morning. People who plan it in the evening often procrastinate because they’re too tired or have other things to do. People who engage in aerobic exercise first thing in the morning have been shown to be brighter, more creative, and more intelligent throughout the day. The explanation is as follows: when you exercise in the morning, you drive hyper-oxygenated blood into your cerebral cortex , the part of your brain you use for thinking, analyzing, and decision making. This makes you wide-awake and alert for several hours afterwards. To conclude: make exercise a part of your lifestyle.
Chapter 18: Self-discipline and Marriage
An interesting point: people often say ‘opposites attract’. This is a misunderstanding. Opposites tend to attract only in one area, and that is temperament. This means that you will always be more compatible with a person who has a opposite temperament than you. In all other areas, especially in the area of values, it is similarities that attract. You will always be attracted to people who have the greatest number of values in common with yourself. All of love, of any kind, is a response to value.
Tracy also talks about male-female communication styles. Whereas a man can only process one sensory input at a time, a woman can process multiple sensory inputs. For example, a man cannot answering his telephone and watching television at the same time, whereas most women can cook dinner, while talking over the phone and reading the newspaper. Men can only focus at one thing at a time. Women are multidimensional and -at the same time- relationship experts: they are very sensitive to social dynamics.
Chapter 19: Self-discipline and Children
Parents should be a role-model for their children, requiring great responsibility and self-discipline.
Chapter 20: Self-discipline and Friendship
As Aristoteles already mentioned, man is a social animal. We learn who we are only through interacting with other people. It is therefore important that you become absolutely excellent at human relations.
Psychologists tell us that everything we do is either in order to build our self-esteem or to protect it from being torn down by other people. Your self-esteem – how much you like yourself – is largely determined by your self-image, which basically consists of 3 parts: the way you see yourself, the way you think others see you and the way people actually do see you and treat you. You can only be truly happy (high self-esteem) , when you feel that all 3 parts of your self-image are consistent. To gain self-esteem, check out Nathaniel Branden’s book “The 6 Pillars Of Self-Esteem” !
One of the secrets to building and maintaining excellent relationships and friendships is the Law of Indirect Effect. This law states that you get almost everything in your relationships by approaching people indirectly rather than directly. For example, if you want to have a friend, first be a friend. If you want people to like or respect you, you should first like or respect them. The deepest subconscious need that people have, is the need to feel important. So whenever you make other people feel important, you raise their self-esteem and make them feel more happy about themselves. As a result, your own self-esteem will go up. This is key in having good friendships.
Chapter 21: Self-discipline and Peace of Mind
The ability to achieve your own peace of mind is the true measure of your success and happiness. Eckhart Toll already talked about inner and outer purpose. He states that in order to fulfill your outer purpose or succeed in the ‘outer world’, you need to live in alignment with your inner purpose which is being present to the moment. Toll says that your inner purpose is primary and essential, your outer purpose is secondary.
Brian Tracy states that to succeed in the outer world, you need self-discipline to focus and concentrate, work hard, take continuous action toward your goals and become a better person. However, to succeed in the ‘inner world’, you need the opposite abilities. To achieve inner peace, you must discipline yourself to let go of everything that can disrupt your sense of inner peace or contentment in some way. This means that we have to practice ‘detachment’, or separating yourself emotionally from certain things or ideas.
The discipline of forgiveness is the key to the spiritual kingdom. It is how quickly you forgive and forget a negative experience that determines how mentally and emotionally healthy you are. Successful people get over a negative experience very quickly and get on with their lives.