5 Quotes on the Importance of Discipline

As men striving to move our lives from mediocrity to nourishing meaning, purpose and vision, there’s one tool that outstrips them all in this pursuit, and that is why this piece outlines 5 quotes on the importance of discipline. 

Motivation is amazing in the moment, but it doesn’t last.

Hard work is fruitful and reliable, but the mind and body tires and sometimes life demands we stand back and let a situation play out rather than try and force it through.

With this in mind, we begin to see the importance of discipline forming.

The Importance of Discipline

Discipline is not just about getting after it and getting the job done, that is a massive part of it for sure, yet sometimes we must have the discipline to stay quiet, fighting against our inner beta and attention-seeking ego.

Hence, discipline provides us with the dexterity we need to face the world.

Sometimes it’s about going hardcore all-out attack, sometimes its about getting the job done whether you want to or not, and sometimes its having the personal mastery to not get ensnared in petty arguments, power-plays and the like, seeking instead to keep your head down and play the long game.

The importance of discipline is thereby measured in how we’re honouring an inner standard of truth and values.

Discipline, Values & Falling Short

In essence, living truthfully and in line with what we know is right is the correct life approach, yet discipline is the vehicle that helps us move in that regard.

Now, nobody is perfect, so we all screw up from time to time, we all fall short of a desired level, and we all need a bit of raw, honest tough talk to help us see that – however, we must embed the truth in our soul that if we’re not acting in a disciplined manner, we’re not giving ourselves a fair shot at life.

Similarly, discipline works the other way around too.

If you are consistently falling short, you must garner the discipline to not get all soppy pants about your predicament and let it snowball into more mediocrity, more unhealthy heating, more fapping, laziness and the like.

So, we need discipline to:

  • Help us achieve the goals and values that define our lives
  • Transcend our present state
  • Stop ourselves wallowing in the luxury of whining should we fall short

Now we are clear on the importance of discipline and how it works in our lives, check out the 5 quotes below:

1: “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.” – Jocko Willink

This quote from podcast giant and ex-US Navy Seal Commander Jocko Willink echoes the point made at the fore of this piece on motivation not being enough to carry us through the good, bad, and the downright ugly.

This isn’t to say that motivation doesn’t have its place, mind.

Motivation is an immensely powerful tool in the gym, in tough working situations and during nerve-wracking times, the problem is that it doesn’t last.

Read: 5 Disciplines To Become Unstoppable From A Navy SEAL Commander

Hence, one must seek to use motivation wisely, seeing it more like a hit of caffeine that gives you an ephemeral boost rather than a foundation for your life progress.

Discipline is the master in this regard. It is the differentiator between success and failure, or even the difference between failure and complete abject failure.

So, you must know why you have to exhibit discipline in your life, and then strive to become someone who exhibits it as a matter of principal.

Those familiar with my story (see below) will know I had to learn the hard way that life itself is hard. As hard as nails.

Until I realised that my growth, my life outcomes and my recovery as a man were in my hands, and that discipline and adversity were my friends not my enemies, I was bound for a life of torture and decay.

This isn’t to say my life is a piece of piss nowadays.

Life is still tough, it can still blindside you, I still fall short of my own vision at times, yet the difference is now that when nothing makes sense, when I feel myself slipping and when I don’t know where to turn, I can rely on the truth of the grind.

In getting my head down, pushing on and doing what I have to do, I know from experience that the dark clouds eventually scatter and the light comes again in time.

That is a character trait I’ve been gifted via understanding the importance of discipline.

2: “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” Plato

Sit and meditate on Plato’s wisdom here.

If you do so you’ll begin to ascertain that you are the centre point through which all things flow, and that means that if you find peace in yourself, you find peace in all things.

While this may be easier said than done, it must be at the core of our understanding of the importance of discipline.

In essence, implementing discipline in our lives creates harmony outside of ourselves.

I have explored the reality before that we as individuals are actually deeply connected to the people, elements and things around us, that we are part of a network (see below).

Hence, when we work to do the right thing and implement discipline in our lives, we are literally bringing a stronger sense of peace and harmony into the world.

This isn’t airy-fairy BS, it is completely literal.

Hence, implementing a philosophy of discipline in your own life is a duty of care to the world and people around you. It makes you a rock and brings order to chaos.

Finally, one could say that in the above quote Plato forgot to mention that conquering self is also the only victory we must seek. 

There really is nothing more beyond that.

3: “Compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and a sense of self-discipline are qualities that help us lead our daily lives with a calm mind.” – Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama ends his three-point punch of empathy with the harder-edged discipline in the above quote, and this emphasises the nature of the spiritual life quite nicely.

This is the nature of life; the softer compassionate feminine and the harder dominant masculine, yin and yang, or justice and mercy to use a more Christian Western phraseology.

There are two key things in the Dalai Lama’s quote that help us understand the importance of discipline further.

Firstly, as prior explored, it isn’t always about ‘cracking heads and taking names’, sweat, blood and toil.

Sometimes it is the silent, unmoving denial of self in the pursuit of greater self-understanding and freedom from the passions.

Secondly, the Dalai Lama points to the aftereffects of self-discipline – a calm mind.

Anyone who’s engaged in excessive use of intoxicants will understand the principal here; if we drink to excess, argue, binge on porn, fail to meetb our deadlines and engage in the fantasies of the ego, we will pay for each of these in psychic disharmony.

This isn’t to say the above things are bad, you can engage in them all you like, but you have to accept that you will have to pay the inevitable price in psychic disharmony.

One may think that this disharmony is gone after the initial hangover, shame or regret, yet this too is uninformed, as the cycle of behaviour has already been re-engaged.

We usually go from excess, to regret, to normal life, to needing something to take the edge off, and then back to excess.

This is why I’ve been eager to stress the value of discipline when things are going badly, at the times we want to whinge and whine and stew in shame.

It is then we must break the chain, get on with life and implement discipline, working our way to a calm mind.

4: “The discipline of desire is the background of character.” – John Locke

Following on from the Dalai Lama, the same point is emphasised and fleshed out by English philosopher John Locke.

In a new twist, Locke attributes self-discipline around one’s desires as the core influential factor in the development of that most elusive and essential facets of a man – character.

What character exactly is isn’t easy to define, yet as Locke points to, it is not an intellectual pursuit but an action (or in this case a lack of action) that builds a sense of self strong enough to deny temptation in the pursuit of greater long-term gains.

In essence, this law of life, that in suffering lays the key, that in the denial of craving and sentimentality sits wisdom and maturity.

5: No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

The final quote acts as a summation for this whole piece.

Discipline isn’t nice, it isn’t easy, in fact, it’s very hard. However, with continued effort, persistence and the knowledge that pain is inevitable, we can make the active decision to meet suffering and grow as opposed to waiting for it in fear.

You already know which road the recovering man must take, and while we pay heavily in the short-term, we must strive to learn to meet our lot with thanks, knowing that by facing it sincerely and nobly we are capable of true, authentic long-term growth.

The importance of discipline is therefore in the development of character.

Similarly, when we fall short, spend a day reneging on your diet promises, binging on booze, porn or laying in bed, we must take our discipline medicine, accepting the ‘law of life’ and having the vision to accept we fall short, learn the lesson, and move on.

Life is about the general trajectory trend, it is about winning the war, not every individual battle.

This is how we make long-term change a reality.

If you enjoyed this piece, why not consider downloading the free ‘Recovery Hacks’ e-book from Recovering Man, which contains 6 transformational lessons:

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