I was having a chat with a good friend of mine last night about all the pursuits I have recently committed back into my life and the conversation suddenly got snagged in my mind, on one word. Discipline.
As some of you may be aware, I wake up at 4am four mornings a week to jump out of bed, cook/eat two eggs on toast, drink a protein shake, jump in the car and drive thirty minutes to Greenbrae (which is a suburb on the North Bay of San Francisco).
At 530am, two rowing eights and a four will push off the dock and for the next one and a half hours we intensely focus on repetitive and tiring drills to improve our technique, power, strength and stamina.
After rowing, I do at least a twenty minute ergo (rowing machine) and ten to twenty minutes of weights. I then jump back in the car, sit in peak hour traffic listening to my beats and then return my Zipcar by 830am before heading upstairs for a second breakfast, second protein shake and a shower. By 930am I’m ready to start the day with a stupid amount of energy and I’m often quite proud of my 1500 calorie burn before breakfast.
Even during my day, I carefully choose what I eat keeping mental notes of my protein, carb and calorie intake. I often go to bed when everyone else wants to party and I’ve stopped drinking alcohol with the occasional naughty night here and there so I can maintain somewhat of a social life.
At times I even surprise myself how committed I am to my rowing. Sure I’m a long way off being at the level I need to be to be at peak performance but I figure that by just showing up, doing my routine and remaining committed to my regime, I’ll continue making progress. I find it quite amusing really because I’m not known for patience.
I wasn’t even this committed to rowing at high school when all I had to think about was rowing, school work, sleep and playing computer games. I mean I did it ten times a week but often required great determination. You could say that in school I was disciplined at rowing.
So what changed and why don’t I think of it as ‘discipline’ now?
Well it came flooding into my head when my friend said to me, “You’re very disciplined.” Before I absent-mindedly said thanks and agreed with her, I thought about the word discipline and whether it was the right way to describe my commitment.
In most cases, the word discipline holds a lot of negative connotations for people. From punishment, authority and obedience they all remind me of being in an institution, whether education, government or beyond. It almost suggests that it’s a forced and unwanted experience but is somehow necessary to tolerate through gritted teeth in order to reach the outcome.
Despite that most of my friends here think I’m pure bonkers for waking up so early and keeping to a strict diet, I’ve actually found it thoroughly enjoyable and easy. Yes – easy. Believe it or not, I find this lifestyle now easier than what I used to do which was pretty much zero exercise and McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’d even go so far to say that I couldn’t happily live any other way now. That’s a big call for a guy who loved his daily Big Macs!
The difference between the past and today isn’t discipline but rather that I’m genuinely motivated by my new lifestyle and have great enthusiasm for rowing and the outcomes it provides.
When I think about the other times in my life that I have achieved things with an unstoppable tenacity, it has always been built around the fact I’ve genuinely wanted the outcome and haven’t felt the need to ‘discipline’ and force myself. Because I wanted it, I just saw it as easy as breathing.
So just perhaps the key to achieving results isn’t about forcing yourself to take action despite great restraint but rather to genuinely believe in the benefits of the task with your whole mind, body and soul and be congruent with the view that you always find the time to do the things you want in life and struggle to find time for the things you don’t want.
This time I genuinely want it rather than think I want it. At this point, I think it’s more appropriate to label my ‘discipline’ as focus – the centre of my interest.
Are you genuinely focussed or are your just being disciplined? Perhaps you need to review it.