Self Discipline Calling
I have to admit that when I started to feel the inner whispers that my being was calling forth the virtue of self discipline, it wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to hear. After all, I mean let’s face it. Self discipline is not sexy like some other energies. When I pick self discipline out of a virtues pile, my response is to put it right back again. It is like looking for apple pie and getting cod liver oil. So here I am struggling to accept what is without one shadow of a doubt the perfect answer to my current situation, but having a degree of resistance associated with it.
Ok, I know the issue. This is my 30 year recurring nightmare. I have had this dream 100 times easily where I go back and reenter the Air Force Academy hoping to complete what plays in the back of my mind as failure. Everything seems to be going well, but then I wake up after awhile and say to myself, “what am I thinking?” The Air Force Academy is a military university which prides itself on training people to have huge self discipline, but really is a system of making you fearful of authority so that you will allow yourself to be killed in battle. Maybe that is a bit simple, but the self never comes into self discipline in the academies because thinking for yourself and going after your own goals in a systematic, disciplined manner is certainly not the goal. So when I think of self discipline, my mind goes back to the AFA and to the rhetoric and I wonder if I missed something. “If I were to only go back there and finish,” my mind thinks, “then I would have what I need.” Fortunately I usually wake up and realize that they are about as far from self discipline as an organization could possibly get. Putting them aside I look around for other models.
Model #1 My Mother
When my mother had back surgery a few decades ago, the doctors told her that she would be in wheel chair within 10 years. Well she decided that they were wrong and then she set out on a daily routine of various exercises to strengthen all the muscles around her back. She is now 86 and walks so fast that it is hard to keep up with her. She never misses a day of exercise. She is a marvel of self-discipline.
Model #2 My Wife
Debby was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, recommended for surgery, but went through one year of a disciplined regime of taking herbs and homeopathic remedies which cleared her of the need for surgery. Next she lifted a heavy box one day and ruptured a disc in her back. The orthopedic doctors recommended surgery, but she went through a series of exercise routines that she still does daily. Her back is fine because of having the virtue of self discipline. My guess is that not many doctors have run into the likes of my mother and my wife so they recommend surgery and make weak predictions. If there were more self disciplined people in the world, there would certainly be less surgeries.
Model #3 My Eldest Daughter
When Erika did her master’s thesis, she used to wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then write all day long. She did this continually for several months. The product of her work was amazing. As a youth she used to wake up at 5:30 am several days a week to do skating practice before school.
Model #4 My Son-in-Law, Chris
Everyone knows that my other son-in-law, Shane is hard wired with self discipline, but Chris decided one day that he was lacking self discipline and dedicated a whole year to developing it mainly through an exercise program several mornings a week. His transformation is an inspiration to me because for the other 3 women, self discipline is runs through their veins. Chris has come to it through struggle.
What I understand from the 4 of them is that self discipline is daily and while the goal is ever present, the expectation of immediate results is not. The results come from repetition of acts over long periods of time. It isn’t self discipline when performance is inconsistent. It seems to be self discipline when the tasks are done almost like breathing.
I am looking forward to making self discipline a friend. I am glad that it has come calling.