Author and acclaimed father of Success Principles and the Motivational World, Napoleon Hill who spent over 25 years researching for his best seller ‘Think and Grow Rich’ observed a common trait in all the leaders he interviewed. Hill posited that ‘Self Discipline’ is a frequent attribute when you study closely the lives of accomplished men and women. I cannot agree with him more that success is anchored on this pillar.
Napoleon Hill described ‘Self Discipline’ as ‘doing what you have to do when you have to do it, whether you feel like doing it or not’. This is instructive especially as I take a look at how most people set goals for the year and leave things to chance expecting to gain results after. Leadership however is an intentional process.
Achieving any level of accomplishment or success requires a certain amount of commitment to that goal, regardless of the prevailing situation. All leaders are mindful of this. Leadership and Business mogul Jim Rohn is right to say that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.
What does this mean to you as a leader? If you are a student who is preparing for your final exam at any level, you cannot compromise on your grades. You cannot expect to excel without studying. It is only to your credit to do your assignments and submit them on time to your lecturer. In fact, whether you feel like doing the assignment or not, once you aim at making the best grades, you will have to make time to complete the work.
Napoleon Hill has said that if you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. Think of a footballer who is selected to be part of a national team competing for the World Cup. In my country Ghana, imagine Asamoah Gyan refusing to go for training because he feels tired knowing that we have to play against Brazil in a few months. He needs to conquer self. Once it’s time for training he has to go against his own desire to party, and commit to serious training if he wants to be the best player and lead the team to win the cup.
This highlights the idea of Opportunity Cost. It means sacrifice, and foregoing certain pleasures and comfort. If you are a footballer at a camp training for a match, you are literally separated from certain exciting opportunities. If you need to be at a training to justify your inclusion in the team, you cannot join friends to party even if you want to.
A part of leadership success includes asking yourself the question ‘What do I need to give up?’ ‘What do I need to avoid?’. An understanding of this prepares you for the journey ahead. It is so crucial that you come to terms with the fact that there is a price to pay for what you want. This price may be putting on hold your hobbies, so you can graduate from Bible school, reducing the hours you spend on social media so you can complete reports for your director. Perhaps in your case, you may have to cancel a vacation to attend a conference where all the stakeholders and prospective clients you have been targeting for your business will be converging. What do you have to give up to achieve your dream?
You need to appreciate that the road to success is paved with challenges. Having the courage and gearing your mind to keep moving is non-negotiable. You may not be a footballer but you have plans to start your dream business, travel overseas, further your education or tie the knot with your sweetheart. If any of these is your goal this year, please keep reading.
Self-discipline (as the term suggests), means that you have an inner drive to achieve your goals. It implies that you do not wait to be motivated by external forces before you do something. It means you need to be your own cheer leader. You need to be the first person to believe in yourself, to believe in the power of YOUR dreams and, most importantly, trust that you can accomplish it. An important thing to consider is that your success depends on your own self-image and your attitude of doing whatever it takes.
Most people will not miss a flight for various reasons. They will defy all odds to make it to the airport on time once they have purchased their ticket. A main reason for this is the value people place on air travel, knowing that most airlines make it extremely cumbersome to process a refund. The hassle of securing another flight (possibly with an extra charge), deepens the commitment to catch that flight! More so if you’re attending a business trip in another country. For any of these reasons, people place value on air travel. As a leader, place the same value on all the plans and goals you make.
Imagine yourself as typical bank manager. You need to set an example for your team in how you handle the day to day activities of the branch you manage. Importantly, the team takes inspiration from you on how to achieve the set goals. Crafting a compelling proposal, creating a winning strategy and commitment to see the strategy executed will be key activities you continually have to work at. Where you need to be at work at earlier than the start of business, you must do that. Need I say there will be countless times when you stay after the close of business to ensure a transfer hits a client’s account, clearing procedures are thoroughly done or data capture enters all the figures. As a leader you need to be ready to go outside your comfort zone in many situations, and of course, your ability to have your team rally behind you is equally priceless. To get your front desk executives, tellers and executive assistant have similar passion as you is something to work at continually. Having the right team morale is critical to the growth of the business. This is the same kind of posture you need to assume in working to achieve your personal objectives.
Above all, remember that you have a divine power and instruction to be self-disciplined, for “God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-discipline.”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
About the Author
Genevieve Pearl Duncan, MCILG. The author is a Full Member of Chartered Institute of Leadership and Governance, Ghana Chapter. She is also the branch sales and service manageress of Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited A & C Mall Branch in Accra, Ghana.
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