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Strategic Discipline Blog

The Truth About Discipline, Habit, and Willpower

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Dec 28, 2017

Disciplined People Thought Action Chapter06-01.jpg“I just need more discipline.”

Have you ever said this to yourself?

In The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, Gary Keller reveals there is this pervasive idea that the successful person is the “disciplined person” who leads a “disciplined life.”

We tend to believe success is this marathon of disciplined action.

Achievement doesn’t require you to be a full-time disciplined person where your every action is trained and where control is the solution to every situation. Success is actually a short race—a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.

A disciplined life is actually one of the Six Lies preventing you from applying the One Thing focus to your life and your business.

When we know something that needs to be done but isn’t currently getting done, we often say, “I just need more discipline.”

Actually, we need the habit of doing it. What we need is just enough discipline to build the habit.

A Disciplined Person?self-discipline.jpg

In any discussion about success, the words “discipline” and “habit” ultimately intersect. Though separate in meaning, they powerfully connect to form the foundation for achievement—regularly working at something until it regularly works for you. When you discipline yourself, you’re essentially training yourself to act in a specific way. Stay with this long enough and it becomes routine—in other words, a habit. So when you see people who look like “disciplined” people, what you’re really seeing is people who’ve trained a handful of habits into their lives. This makes them seem “disciplined” when actually they’re not. No one is.

In our Four Decisions Practices (People, Strategy, Execution, Cash), Positioning Systems’ Strategic Discipline, is the practice of Execution.  In our first 90 days of building the Scaling Up practices with new customers, we execute on building the habit of Meeting Rhythms, Metrics, and Priority.

Strategy - Building Championship Disciplines.jpgWe call it Strategic Discipline, knowing when our customers implement this practice for 90 days, it creates a habit, “A Winning Habit!” Once the habit is in place, unless the executive team is incompetent (lacking A Players) this discipline, when repeated/cascading throughout the organization breeds the habit of success.

People, Strategy, Cash are critical decisions producing valuable growth platforms.  Yet without the habit of Strategic Discipline, the 3 other decisions will more than likely never take hold and bring value to the organization.

Here’s the truth from Gary Keller’s perspective: “You don’t need to be a disciplined person to be successful. In fact, you can become successful with less discipline than you think, for one simple reason: success is about doing the right thing, not about doing everything right. 

The trick to success is to choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it. That’s it. That’s all the discipline you need. As this habit becomes part of your life, you’ll start looking like a disciplined person, but you won’t be one. What you will be is someone who has something regularly working for you because you regularly worked on it. You’ll be a person who used selected discipline to build a powerful habit.”

make-our-habits-1.gifAmerica’s greatest Olympians’ mother was told, He’s not gifted. Your son will never be able to focus on anything.”  His habits made him most-decorated Olympian in any sport in history. Discover who he is in our previous blog: BIG LIE #3 – Myth of Self Discipline

Getting More Things Done – Scheduling for Willpower

Are you planning to achieve more, get more done, or take more time off in 2018?  You need to understand willpower, and how when you do something affects your outcomes.

When it comes to willpower, timing is everything. Review LIE #4 – Willpower is Always on Will-Call to get a better understanding of your willpower, and what you can achieve or control.

I can't (cut) can do it.jpgWhen our willpower runs out, we all revert to our default settings.

What are your default settings? If your willpower is dragging, will you grab the bag of carrots or the bag of chips? (For me it’s a Coke!)

Will you be up for focusing on the work at hand or down for any distraction that drops in?

When your most important work is done while your willpower wanes, default will define your level of achievement.

The result? Your performance will be average at best.


Here’s the key: We lose our willpower not because we think about it but because we don’t.

Because you don’t appreciate it can come and go, you let it do exactly that. When you don’t intentionally protect it every day, we allow yourself to go from a will and a way to no will and no way.

If success is what you’re after, this doesn’t work.

Willpower Guage.jpgThere are degrees of willpower strength. Like the battery indicator going from green to red, there is willpower and there is “won’t” power.

Have you been bringing “will” or “won’t” power to your most important challenges?  Without ever realizing it’s what makes them feel so hard.

Not understanding resolve is a resource that gets used up, you fail to reserve it for the things that matter most!  When you don’t replenish it when it’s low, you set yourself up for the toughest possible path to success.

How do you put your willpower to work?

You think about it.

You pay attention to it.

Respect it.

You make doing what matters most a priority when your willpower is its highest. Make sure you give it the time of day it deserves.

Achieving growth demands Strategic Discipline.

Positioning Systems helps mid-sized ($5M - $250M) business Scale-UP. We’re experts at keeping The One ThingYour One Thing! Are you avoiding a conversation with yourself on how you can grow your business? Contact for expert help to Scale Up your business! Take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment to discover how your business measures against other Scaled Up companies. We’ll contact you.

Innovating – How Originals Do It – Next Blog

In my pursuit of helping my customers innovate and apply the Outthinker Process from Kaihan Krippendorff’s Outthink the Competition, I’ve begun reading Originals again by Adam Grant.  WAVES OF digital-transformation-a-model-to-master-disruption.jpgDisruption today is requiring every business to rethink its business model and innovate. The Outthinker Process demands you determine which innovative ideas are Crazy Ideas, Winning Moves, Tactics-Easy or Waste of Time.  Why did the Segway fail and so many publishers reject J.K. Rowling’s hugely successful Harry Potter? Will explore successful measures in Innovation, next blog.

Topics: Discipline, habits, Execution, Willpower, The One Thing, Winning Habit

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1. Priorities: Determine your #1 Priority. Achieve measurable progress in 90 days.

2. Metrics: Develop measurable Key Performance Indicators. 

3. Meetings: Establish effective meeting rhythms. (Cadence of Accountability)  Compounding the value of your priority and metrics. 

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Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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