The DNA of Self-Discipline

It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Aaron Morton who is the creator of The Confidence Lounge. A platform where you can discover how to turn your ideas into reality. Aaron works with individuals who want to earn a side income using the skills and talents they already have or have the confidence to leave their job and go solo. Go to for a more articles and a free report on how to handle Fear. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.

A book I have been reading lately is ‘The Way of The Fight’ by UFC champion George St Pierre. The opening chapter is fantastic as it reveals the repetitive nature of his days that can be summarised as train-eat-sleep-repeat. It is a wondering example of why not everyone could do what he does. What I found fascinating however was the interviews with some of his trainers and the common thread that ran through them. A lot of the trainers agreed that George st pierre was very average when he started and in terms of athletic ability, they’d seen better. But what stands out in George St Pierre is his unbelievable self-discipline.

Discipline is the act of doing what is necessary in order to reach a goal. There is a mountain of stimuli vying for our attention every day. We have news media playing 24/7, we have social media that changes every second and we have friends and family who require our attention in some form or another. It is very easy to stray from the path.

Heres the thing; discipline doesn’t require motivation. To use a car analogy, if motivation was manual control, then self-discipline is auto pilot. George St-Pierre mentions that the only way he could persist in his schedule was if it was routine. Discipline requires you to have routine that is done without much thought, whereas motivation requires a certain state change in order for it to be recognised.

So what are some of the components that go into discipline? There are many, but I wanted to highlight 3 areas that I find common in most people I see who have a strong sense of self-discipline:

1 – Ruthless focus

The mainstream population like to be distracted, why do you think reality TV is so popular? Most people do not get past the first chapter in a book and text messaging and tweets have reduced our attention span to minutes. Self-discipline is a skill that has to be nurtured and part of that involves a ruthless focus towards an outcome.

Start small, if you find yourself easily distracted practice focussing on a single spot on the wall for a period of 5 minutes. Once you’ve achieved that, find another focus exercise that is a little harder until you can achieve a long period of focus.

2 – Self-awareness

We are human and there will be times when we stray. Our mind turns to browsing the internet or getting lost in our mind when work is needed to be completed. Being self-aware will insure this doesn’t happen for long.

Notice when you are off course on your goal pursuit. Be aware when you are doing work that doesn’t fulfil you and notice how your ongoing self-talk makes you feel and how it affects your decisions.

3 – Know when to bail

I said a ruthless focus to an outcome, but not necessarily the plan. Having regular feedback ensures the plan you are being guided by is still working in the way you want. Loss aversion will cause us to stay with a lost cause in order to not have wasted the time we have already spent. However discipline involves having the flexibility to change course without a complete loss in momentum.

We all have the capacity to display strong self discipline and when it become part of your character, just as George St-Pierre has shown, it doesn’t matter if you have physical flaws, lack of money or unfortunate circumstances because Self-discipline can rein supreme.

Question: Who do you admire who’s self-discipline has guided them towards success?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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50 thoughts on “The DNA of Self-Discipline

  1. Thanks for the awesome post, Aaron! I think that last point is so important. People are so committed to their plan, and forget that there is more than one brilliant way to an outcome. Kudos!

  2. Aaron, I admire my father who had enough self discipline to start a church from scratch and stick with it for over 30 years now! I think “Ruthless focus” was his key, that and never ever ever giving up!

  3. Focus is a precious commodity today.
    I admire George Washington’s self-discipline – all the facts point to his restraint and desire to demonstrate a positive, balanced, and dignified example. He willingly stepped away from power (that others would have fought to maintain) for the good of the country.

    • George Washington is a good example. I think to hold most positions of power requires a discipline due to the length of time it takes to get to the top. It doesn’t happen by accident!

      Thanks for posting Jon!


  4. Great post, Aaron. I admire a friend who has always shown incredible discipline in many walks of his life.

    One thing I’ve noticed about self-discipline is that if you want to focus on something, you have to actually want it. Like really want it. If it’s just something that you think would be nice to have, it becomes infinitely more difficult to focus on making that a reality. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s important to make sure you’re going after your own dreams instead of those of someone else.

    • Hi Ryan,

      Good point and within what you said is the role of emotion. The more emotion connected to the outcome the most attachment we feel towards it. There is a danger in that people may not appreciate what they’ve got when they hit the outcome, but ultimately by collecting ‘mini wins’ along the way it is not unusual for people to feel indifferent about the outcome because of the learning they’ve accumulated along the way.

      Thanks for our post Ryan


  5. Strong will goes along with the discipline needed to achieve anything in life. While the discipline can carry people through the times they lack the desire or passion, I still think it has to be the flame that stays lit within. The most successful people are the ones that use that passion to set up regimens in order to carry them along ups and downs of the flow of life. Good post.

      • There have been several people, one in particular I used to work for. He was bigger than life and had no fear. He built a business that was one of the biggest of its kind in the Southwest. I emulated him when I started my own business almost twenty five years ago. He died in an auto accident shortly after I’d gone into business for myself and now that business is gone and mine stands in a similar place to the one I once helped him build. But like your last piece of advice, you gotta know when it’s time to change your business model.

  6. So true Aaron. Like how John Maxwell says that success is defined by your daily agenda. What we do on a daily basis – consistently will propel us to new levels! For me, my role model has been my father.

    • Thanks Paul, yes an individuals daily routine will determine a lot in relation to their success. Feedback is also important in knowing what is next in relation to where you are on your path.


  7. What can we really achieve without discipline? This is something I have been really been working to have more of in my life. This was a great post!

    To answer your question: no one I can think of right now :)

  8. I enjoy watching GSP, had no clue that many trainers in the beginning thought he was average…goes to show that hard work pays off. He’s a talented fighter and seems to be a nice guy (alot nicer and less cocky than a few I could name).

    As for who I admire, can’t think off the top of my head, but I’m sure I’ll think of a few after I publish this comment.

      • I actually watch with a grimace. Being a nurse all I can think about are the injuries they are inflicting on each other. My husband however really likes it and since we like to do things together, this is one area I give in (however my favorite fighter is GSP). He gives and watches a few chick flicks now and then :)

    • One of the biggest factors about GSP is he never gets drawn into his opponents mind games. This is one of the factors of why Anderson Silva is so good, because he has beaten his opponent before he even gets to the octagon. This can draw comparisons to life where people get sucked into the latest news and use it as evidence of why they should feel a certain way instead of working with their own state management to have more control over it.

      Thanks for replying

  9. Hi Aaron,

    This is a brilliant guest post and Dan, thanks for connecting us with Aaron!

    Aaron, the point you made about people holding onto lost causes because of worry about time being wasted, really struck a chord with me. This is one limiting belief that can really hold people back from trying to do things differently. We need to be flexible as you said, and be prepared to take different approaches.

    Thank you.

    • Glad to have Aaron here. He wrote a great post. Being able to let go of a lost causes (Even if we don’t want or feel like it) is so important if we want to move toward a better future. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

    • Thanks for your kind words Hiten. In my line of work where i help people turn their ideas into reality, it is particularly hard for them because they have been with that idea ‘since its birth’ when it popped into their head! However it is common for the finished product to not look like how you originally conceived it to be and it is by understanding that it is ok to change course that allows it to still be possible to achieve.


    • Absolutely Joe, You want to look at examples of passion look at Dana White to will fight for the UFC tooth and nail against anyone that comes against it.
      You want to look at cutthroat environments, look at the fighters who train sooo hard but still get cut from the roster because they lost.
      You want to look at hard work, watch ‘The Ultimate fighter’ and see how hard they train.

      Its all in there!

      Thanks for commenting Joe


      • So true Ellory. While I haven’t watched much UFC in the past 10+ years, I remember in the glory days the fighters would help each other up afterwards and shake hands or hug. Lots of great sportsmanship going on.

  10. My husband is an amazingly disciplined person, and I’m not saying that because of my personal bias. He grew up on a farm and has this ability to do what needs done regardless of how he feels just because it needs done. He knows who he is and is confident in his abilities, and he is not ashamed to admit when he can’t do something for whatever reason and to ask for help. He has terrific self control, which is what I believe to be an essential aspect of discipline. I have learned a lot from him over the past 25 years with regard to self-discipline.

  11. Aaron ! Ruthless. Focus. Is. It. And sometimes it’s ok to let go. Guilt-free letting go, tough. There’s a difference (the other version is giving up. Totally something else)

    • Hi Razwana, whilst I can’t completely follow what you have said, giving up and letting go can be seen as semantics and exactly the same. Ultimately what you are looking at is making the most efficient decision based on what your outcome is and the resources you have at the time. If that means giving up then it is because you feel it is the right decision based on where you are putting your attention….And who are we to say it is the wrong decision, it is solely the decision of the person making it.

      Thanks for commenting

      The Confidence Lounge

  12. Great post, Aaron. Any great musician gets my admiration. I just saw the band Phish live on Saturday. The level of musicianship those guys have is incredible. That had to take tremendous self-discipline to reach.

    • yea music definitely. I saw bits of the film Anvil at the weekend. What those guys went through before they got big time only a few years ago is extraordinary!

      The Confidence Lounge

  13. Self-disciplined displayed by professional athletes is one area I look to for encouragement on self-discipline. Another one is Darren Hardy who wrote the Compound Effect. Invaluable teachings on self-discipline from his perspective.

  14. I love the “ruthless focus to an outcome” and not to a plan. The fact that focus can be learned (re-learned) through practice and training is something that we’ve really lost sight of.

  15. Great post Aaron. All are true, but the ruthless focus part is so critical. It requires such consistency that isn’t broken. We have to find some way each day to move closer to our goal or – at the very least – to avoid moving further behind the goal.