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Who has not seen a policeman write out a ‘fine amount’ for a car driver who has violated some traffic regulation, such as exceeding the speed limit or crossing a red light? That must be an instance of a driver’s failing to discipline himself. He may have yielded to the temptation or the impulse to ignore traffic rules, and so had to be disciplined.

The very laws of cause and effect within our bodies discipline us, if we do not discipline ourselves. What is true of individuals can be applied to a large team in an organisation. The less one disciplines oneself, the more such ones need to be disciplined by their seniors in the interest of peace and unity.

Discipline is training, especially of the mind or character. Discipline comes from many sources, because of one’s lack of knowledge and experience. One who disciplines oneself by being conscientious and thorough in work habits, whether someone is observing or not, will have an inner satisfaction and good reputation.

Sometimes, others may not appreciate our firmness in a certain matter, but we personally know where we must exercise self-discipline in different aspects of our life. Our natural inclination often is to follow the course of least resistance. It takes self-control to be self-disciplined. So, we need help to do the things that may be difficult to do on our own.

Discipline is also seen as training or experience that corrects, strengthens or perfects the mental faculties. One may feel the need to discipline oneself to wake up early, or one may need it to acquire knowledge or skill.

If one disciplines oneself in little things, it will be easy to do so in big things. There is a sense of achievement in the realization that we did something on time instead of putting it off. Even a small thing such as getting up when the alarm clock rings rather than lazily lying in bed, shows discipline. There is a sense of well-being or strength that comes with each act of self-discipline rather than yielding to one’s inclinations and indulging oneself.

Self-discipline also helps in building good relations with others. For example, speaking either too loudly or too softly, can create a poor impression on others. One can even offend others by the way one listens, or fails to listen when others speak. The same can be said about disciplining oneself at the table, not taking too much food at one go, not eating too rapidly or too noisily, all require self-discipline.

Good health demands self-discipline, to be consistent with one’s exercise routine. What about posture? Good posture certainly pays off in improved health, along with progressively improving confidence and poise. Not to be overlooked is the value of self-discipline in the matter of recreation. Pursuing them in moderation saves a lot of time and energy. Likewise, leaving a social gathering at a reasonable hour to get a good night’s sleep is necessary to do justice to the next day’s duties.

Doing what is right is not simply doing, ‘what comes naturally.’ It requires conscious effort, alertness, determination or firmness of purpose and persistence. It means showing will power and restraint. Discipline can also come from others in the form of correction. For it to be effective, it can be given gently and not in a burst of anger. In most cases, merely a few words are sufficient. Discipline is not liked by many. Often, one fails to appreciate its necessity and benefits.

At times, one can go to extremes, either becoming obsessive or becoming slack. A tree that is allowed to get out of hand and not trimmed, fails to bear fruit or flourish. Rather, it degenerates or gets diseased. Therefore, one needs to be alert at all times, not only to the position and authority one has, but also to the dangers both from within and from those around us. Planning a routine, creating a schedule and then sticking to it, helps. Tackling the work on hand, even when one doesn’t feel motivated to do it, requires self-discipline. Taking breaks and doing some physical activity refreshes one to concentrate and focus on the task.

Any helpful advice that moulds our thinking, improves our understanding and motivates us to correct our ways is a kind of discipline. Responsiveness to what we learn through written or spoken words is a splendid form of self-discipline. Being contrary to self-indulgence, it inspires one to pursue one’s goals and move towards maturity for higher achievements.


Rekha Kumar The writer is a work-life balance and leadership skills facilitator [email protected]

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