Discipline – The Secret Sauce For Success
Discipline – The Secret Sauce For Success
May 31, 2013
Winston Wayne Wilson
It’s never about finding time to get things done, it’s about finding the discipline – W. Wayne Wilson
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg once attributed the secret to his success to the fact that, early in his career, he would always arrive at work half an hour earlier and stay half an hour later than everyone else. In so doing, he was able to stay ahead of the curve and on top of his game. In a 1998 interview with Charlie Rose, Billionaire Bill Gates talked about his secret sauce to success. He refers to it as his “Think Week”. He would go to an undisclosed location for a week and block out the world. No family. No friends. Just him, a sandwich, a can of coke, and a clear and de-cluttered mind. There he would catch up on the cutting edge research being done at Microsoft or develop his own cutting edge products. Some of the best Microsoft products emerged from his Think Week. Around the time of the interview, Bill Gates was experimenting with three Think Weeks a year.
What these two billionaires described is discipline. Discipline is defined as training someone to obey rules or codes of behavior. Self-discipline occurs when the person being trained is you. The secret to success, it turns out, is no great secret after all – discipline determines success, which not only makes absolute sense but we kind of know that already. We are just not disciplined enough to be disciplined. The single proactive trait that all successful people embody is that they have the ability to consistently “out-discipline” the competition. I have been a practitioner of both the Bill Gates’ Think Week as well as the Michael Bloomberg’s “get in before and leave after everyone else” rituals and I can vouch that they work.
In my previous role as a managing partner, I used a person’s level of discipline to predict his or her ability to make partner. There were people who mostly talked about wanting to make partner and there were those who demonstrated, on a daily basis, the discipline that it takes to be a successful partner. Hence, if an aspiring partner could not get out of bed and get to work before 10AM, or take on an extra project, or stay late occasionally, or do whatever it takes to go the extra mile for a client, then I would know for certain that that person does not have what it takes to “out-discipline” the competition and become partner.
There are countless ways in which you can out-discipline the competition and take home the grand prize. Here are three ways to get you started on your path to success:
- The discipline of out-filtering the competition. Filtering is the ability to extract and consume only the essential nutrients from other people’s words and deeds. A “small-minded” person spends hours, days, and years trying to figure out why someone said something or did something hurtful to him or her. It doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that damaged people damage people. When you are aware of this, you will be able to filter out and discard pretty much everything that a damaged person is saying or doing to you. Filtering is also the ability to extract meaningless things that do not matter to your success. I observed a lot of people at work who were more obsessed with color-coding and linking Excel spreadsheets (i.e. making them look pretty) than in meeting a client’s deadline. If 80% effort will get the job done well and on time then no one is going to appreciate 100% effort that yields a deliverable that is two weeks late. You have to work smart, not just hard. You also have to be able to be disciplined enough to filter out your ego, perfectionist tendencies (aka “great pride in your work”) when these things are at the expense of getting timely results. The extra things that you do that help your self-esteem but do not drive timely results are not what your boss or your client is looking to pay your for. You never get paid for time. You get paid for results.
- The discipline of out-doing the competition. Talent is great and one might expect that it would give you a leg up for success. However, I have seen people with less talent and more discipline succeed over those with vastly greater talent but less discipline. Knowing that we have a special talent can sometimes impede us and make us work less hard. We tend to be lazier when we have certain God given talents – like the tallest guy in basketball isn’t always the best dunker. Because of his height, he doesn’t always try that hard to jump. Sometimes it is the shorter players, like Spud Web who is only 5’7” tall, who wind up being better dunkers in a game where they are surrounded by giants. This occurs because they do a lot more practicing to over-compensate for their lack of height. If you want to win the next Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100 meter sprint in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, you have to out-do Usain Bolt. You have to practice beating 9.63 seconds. If you consistently run around 9.4 to 9.5 seconds, I would say you have a great shot. At work and in life, you have to know who your strongest competitors are and exactly what they are capable of. With that knowledge, you must then discipline yourself to do more than they are doing. That’s it. It’s not politics. It’s just out-doing the competition.
- The discipline of out-saving the competition. The millionaire next door is the person who out-saves the competition. When everyone else is setting an alarm clock the night before Black Friday to make sure he or she can be the first person in line at Walmart, the millionaire next door is sleeping – and rightfully so. When we are not disciplined we do not respect money. When we do not respect money, money does not respect us. Why is that? Well, the law of money behaves exactly like Newton’s third law of motion: “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Hence, if you burn money, money burns you. If you respect money, money respects you. I always say that you are not a real man or a real woman until money call you “sir” or “ma’am”. You’re the man/woman, when you wake up in the morning and money walks into your bedroom and says “good morning sir/ ma’am, I have been toiling all night and I made you $500 in interest. Is there anything else I can do for you today sir/ma’am?” Remember, what you do with little is exactly what you will do with a lot. The universe will first give you a little money to observe what you do with it as well as how much you appreciate it. If you run out and buy a pair of shoes or a hot leather jacket, without even saying “thank you”, the universe will then know that you have no discipline and it will purposely withhold the much bigger pot of money earmarked for you because you will simply buy more shoes and more leather jackets and still not be grateful. Wanna be rich? Out-save the competition.
So, for today, I want you to remember that dreams drive delusions and fantasies. Discipline drives desired results. And in this world, you can’t take dreams to the bank. Only results. Also remember that, “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” So if you want to be successful you have to put in the disciplined work. Chop-chop.