Entrepreneurs and discipline are polar opposites like day and night, black and white or yin and yang. Funny enough, despite their obvious differences they actually fit together like a fit to measure glove to a hand.
The strange thing is that most entrepreneurs struggle with discipline to the extent of failure. I wanted to know why that is and why we can slave away our days for a boss without so much as a complaint whilst we start to throw tantrums at the earliest convenience when we are in business ourselves and work our butts off.
Looking for a case study
I didn’t have to look far. I was the perfect model for my own study since I have battled with discipline for some time in the past before I (nearly) mastered the art. In that time, my business life was like a freaking roller coaster.
One day I would be up near the clouds, enjoying the sunshine, traveling at massive speeds while tumbling down into absolute depression hell the next.
At the same time I tried to build my first business I also happily run into the open hell of my part time job whenever they needed me, because I was paid a good hourly wage. Despite the fact that I hated my job with a passion, I still kept going back for the money.
Funny enough, at work I was disciplined and as usual a perfectionist while all around me other staff threw sick days, came to work late, didn’t show up at all or even moved at the pace of a snail. And these guys had only just started out in the industry mind you. I felt that I should be the one taking it easy after near 22 years in the job and not them. But here I was, running around like an idiot while getting more and more frustrated.
How stupid is that?! Instead of biting the bullet for good with my business I took the easy way out and continued on a path or self destruction that would send me further into depression. Luckily for me I’m strong and quite thick headed and I managed to pull myself out of this hole without any professional help.
But it could have easily gone the other way too. The question remains, why is it that we struggle to make things happen for our own business while we often give everything in a hated day job.
When I was able to be honest with myself (oh yes, I did kid myself some) I realized that the biggest issue I had was the uncertainty of whether the business was going to work or not.
Also, knowing that I had a guaranteed income kept me going back, despite the fact that it ruined me emotionally. Eventually I couldn’t take any more and that was when I seriously pulled myself together.
In fact I saw myself still cooking and half heartedly trying to build a business when I was 60 and that wasn’t a pretty picture. By then I would have truly had to succumb to a shrink and I wasn’t going to have any of it, so pulling together was the only way out for me.
And so I did. That was back in January 2014. I made (for once) a new year’s resolution that I was going to abide by. To be honest I couldn’t stand myself anymore, my half assed attempts of trying and not doing and I’m sure most of us could improve in some areas in their lives right now doing the same thing.
Being an entrepreneur does require a healthy portion of discipline. The really cool thing is that once we master this it really does become a lot easier. I’m happy to say that I go to bed on most days feeling a huge sense of accomplishment, knowing that I have done the best I could on that given day and looking forward to the next.
After all, I am human and do stuff up occasionally doing nothing too when in fact I should, but even then I see those days as well deserved days off. Keeping discipline is not easy, but it can be done. Discipline is also a must ingredient for success.
Once you master discipline don’t forget to add balance in healthy doses.
Make discipline happen for you
If you are one of the thousands of entrepreneurs who struggle with discipline allow me to give you some of my insights.
- Do it doucement (slowly, very slowly) (not sure whether this is a Bond movie line actually). We often fail when we try too hard. Take it one step at the time and incorporate necessary tasks week by week.
- Don’t measure yourself against others in competition. Use them as a guideline if all. You will only set yourself up for early failure when you try to compare what they have and you haven’t achieved.
- If you run a business besides working a day job, invest more emotional energy into your business. After all, it is your future and deserves your full attention.
- Don’t be put off by setbacks, keep persisting!
- Do something for your business every single day, regardless how tired you are.
- Use personal visualization techniques to day dream. They are very powerful.
- Don’t spend your time with negative people and business dream wreckers. They are poison, especially in the early (failure) stages of your business.
- Be proud of your achievements, however small they seem.
- Learn from your setbacks and mistakes and do it better next time round.
- Don’t try to complicate things – keep it easy.
- Have fun.
Discipline mustn’t be so hard
We are often our biggest negative influence when it comes to staying focused and disciplined. Negative self talk is like rape to your mind. Don’t do it.
I’d love to hear about your own trials and errors with discipline and what helped you to master it. Even better, what was the turning point in your life that prompted you to take your business serious?