In a recent conversation with a frustrated leader, because she’s not making progress towards achieving her goals, I asked her to define discipline. Why? Because as we discussed her situation, it became apparent that her problem was a lack of discipline.

She was choosing what she wanted now over what she wanted most…

We’ll get back to that conversation, but first, let’s discuss discipline…

When I ask leaders about discipline, they almost always talk about its punitive nature.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, discipline is:

  1. control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior;
  2. a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders;
  3. behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders.

Discipline is not a word we like as individuals. Why? We perceive it to be an adverse action.

Now, for the rest of the story…

The leader explained she was trying to get everything done, but she spent most of her day dealing with other people’s problems. At the end of her day, she was tired and didn’t have the energy to work on her goals.

This brought to mind a quote I shared with her:

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Over the next 15 minutes, we reframed her meaning of discipline using Lincoln’s quote and how she could apply it to achieving her goals.

As we concluded our discussion, she developed a plan to delegate several activities and free her time to focus on the most critical tasks. Her plan would provide her with a block of time every day to focus on achieving her goals.

I encouraged her to stay positive, stick to her plan, and not fall back into old habits.

To achieve your goals as a leader, you must embrace discipline. Discipline is not a negative term; it is critical to your success. However, if you struggle with the term discipline, replace the word discipline with training.

So how do I define training? I use the following definition.

“Training is doing what I can do today to enable me to do even more tomorrow.”

– Craig Groeschel

Your success is based on the choices you make today. So start training today to achieve what you want tomorrow.

Are you choosing what you want most, over what you want now?


Lead Confidently
Expand Influence
Achieve Significance

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Dr. Kim Moore

About the author

Hi, I'm Kim, Your Leadership Guide. I equip aspiring leaders to lead with confidence, emerging leaders to expand their influence, and accomplished leaders to achieve significance!