The building blocks of discipline - Intentionality, Consistency, Details

People rarely disagree about the value of discipline, and I've lost count of how many personal growth models I have read. Each of them differs based on the author's field of expertise, audience, and agenda. My position always has been that there are no wrong tools but that one tool may work better in any given situation than others. The one component that is always present in a decent growth model is some form of discipline. Unfortunately, because every model defines discipline differently, we often find ourselves drowning in nuance and buzzwords whenever we try to talk about it. These existential conversations have their place, but they aren't usually helpful in our everyday lives.


Being a better man doesn't require a Ph.D., so let's discuss what I believe to be the three most essential components of discipline: intentionality, consistency, and attention to detail. I have found that about 90% of questions I get about discipline can be addressed within these three concepts' framework. Roll it!


Intentionality


When you operate with an intentionality mindset, nothing you do is an accident because you do everything you do for a reason. As men, we don't have the luxury of 'going with the flow'; we leave that to our children. Instead, we always give thought to the reasons for and the results of our choices. We 'lean-in' to everything we do, and we never leave the outcome of our pursuits in the hands of someone else. Men who live with real intentionality are damned-near immune to victimization because even when things don't go as planned, they are rarely unprepared. No matter how intentional he is, a man cannot guarantee that he won't experience a setback like a flat tire, but he knows that his spare and the jack are in working order, and he knows how to use them if needed. As such, he doesn't have to feel anxious about getting a flat tire. In this way, operating with intentionality allows him to control the controllable and mitigate the uncontrollable.


Practically speaking, intentionality puts us in the driver's seat. Wherever we end-up, good, bad or neutral, we got ourselves there. As I discussed last week, this type of ownership is simultaneously burdensome and liberating. On the one hand, if you're falling out in an area of your life, you have nobody to blame but yourself. On the other hand, if you bear all of the fault for your situation, you have all of the power to change it.


Be Intentional.

Consistency


Consistency represents a long-standing pattern of predictability. Of the three components here, this one is the most challenging for just about all of us. It can also be the most impactful because consistency is the primary ingredient in trust. I'll write more about trust next week, but here's the gist of it:



We build trust with others by being consistent over time.




Think about the guy at your office, that always shows up on time and produces excellent work. That kind of consistency usually results in a higher level of trust from his boss. Compare him to the inconsistent guy who strolls in whenever and underperforms. When it's time to promote someone, consistency always pays off.


Consider the level of consistency you show your partner, or your kids, in the context of how much they trust you. For most women and all kids, safety is the name of the game. In these relationships, it is your consistency that promotes trust and security. When we are moody or impulsive, we respond inconsistently to others.


Pro-Tip: If your partner or your children are afraid to share bad news with you, it may be because you have been inconsistent in your actions, reactions, or behaviors. There should be no unpleasant surprises for them, not from you.


Developing consistency is challenging because one has to play the long game. It takes time. You don't see results after your first workout, or even the tenth, but if we commit to being consistent, the results will come. On the flip-side, the longer we practice consistency, the more cemented in our personalities it becomes.


Be consistent.


Details


Details are the nuts and bolts of the disciplined man. If you're a little compulsive like I am, this will be an easy one for you. If not, you'll need to do some work. There are two reasons to focus on the details:


First, details are foundational. Anyone that served in the military learned the importance of attention to detail. A clean, crisp uniform, a haircut, and shined boots were the building blocks of a disciplined troop. None of these standards win the battle in and of themselves; instead, they make up the foundation of the disciplined-mindset that matters when the stakes are higher than just one's appearance. A missing piece of vital equipment or poorly maintained weapon could result in tragedy.


Second, people see the details, and the message you send to them is in those details. When you have an appointment, they notice your arrival time. When someone gets in your car or truck, they instantly understand how well you care for your equipment. If you want people to take you more seriously, pay extra attention to your word choice and grammar when you communicate. Keep your workspace clean and organized. Taking an extra minute to square-away your appearance can send a powerful message of your commitment to the details.


When a man doesn't care enough about the simple details:

  • Ironing his shirt

  • Showing up on time

  • Taking care of his equipment (and his body)

  • Or even putting a period at the end of a sentence,

He leaves others wondering what else might he not care about.


Pay attention to the details.


There you have it, free of charge — the Disciplined-Man starter kit.


If you have more thoughts on this, continue the conversation in the comments section, or send me an email. I promise to respond!


MH

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