Blog post - Is discipline a predictor of success?

Is discipline a predictor of success?

Drive is the desire to get something done – a feature admired in successful people. Discipline is the committed behaviour that makes it happen. Can you think of anything important that can be achieved without drive? No. But can anything important be achieved without discipline? Well, maybe it can.


I can see how making a strategic decision, for example, could be done in a matter of minutes and have a far-reaching impact. My experience of business shows there are times when no amount of discipline will achieve that breakthrough, cement that important client relationship or shine a guiding light towards your next steps. Those are the times when discipline counts for nothing: they are make-or-break moments that depend on your savvy, your ability to connect with people, your brand and your strategy, among other things. In these moments discipline is a long way out of the picture.


And yet discipline could well be the tactic that positioned you for any of these breakthroughs. Going to work each day at the same time is a discipline. Becoming a better leader is a discipline. Listening during a conflict is a discipline. Facing your fears is a discipline. Building a fantastic team is a discipline.


Everything worth something is worth working for. In my line of work I notice that some people don’t value teamwork enough to implement the disciplines that create it: trust, healthy debate, accountability, commitment and team focus. A lot of the time they aren’t aware of these disciplines, as a first step. Once people become aware that healthy teamwork can be created through key disciplines, they have a few decisions to make. Is teamwork something I want? Do I want to achieve more than I am capable of individually? Do I want those achievements enough to apply myself? Do we want it, together, enough to commit to it corporately?


Drive and desire are good for establishing a vision, thinking strategically and dreaming into the blue-sky to come up with ideas. Discipline, on the other hand, is what carries those ideas into reality.


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