If You Still Can’t Discipline Yourself After Reading This Article, I Swear to God I’m Going to Scream

Life is not a Nike commercial.

Being told to “just do it” is not enough.

If it was, you would have “just done it” by now.

BURN THIS INTO YOUR MIND: Self-discipline requires hard and consistent mental, physical and emotional labor.

It is not the path of convenience.
It is not a glamorous way of living and working.
It is not something most people are going notice about you.

But.

As I learned from self-discipline strategist Rory Vaden, “Those who learn to deal with discipline gently and persistently (eventually) flip a switch that they can never turn off.”

And that’s when discipline turns into freedom.

Let’s explore a list of strategies to help you sink into self-discipline:1. Commitment is the offspring of values. If you can’t discipline yourself to do something every day, there’s only one explanation: It’s simply not that important to you.

People always make time – not find time, but make time – for what matters to them. That’s how commitment works: It deletes distraction. It makes you wake up early. It turns habits into non-negotiables. When you’re committed, you drop everything and get to work. Every day.

The hard part is telling the truth about your current level of commitment. And if you’re having trouble with that, here’s an exercise you might try: Write down a list of the five things you’re most committed to. Then open your calendar. See if your life agrees.

If you’re not happy with the result, either find something else that is important to you and commit to that, or take the current thing that isn’t important to you and reframe it as – or reconnect it with – something else that is. How will you use commitment to open the door to discipline?

2. Bait multiple hooks. If you inherited five million dollars tomorrow, would you invest all of it in one stock? Of course not. You’d diversify it across several accounts. That way your portfolio would have a stronger foundation, making it less vulnerable to external conditions.

This same principle applies to creative professionals who have trouble disciplining themselves. Personally, I’m always working on about fifty things at once. Because in my experience, attacking multiple projects simultaneously has several advantages.

First, it prevents burnout. That’s what happens when your creative efforts are more diversely deployed: You don’t give yourself the chance to get sick of something and abandon it.

Second, by varying your creative endeavors, you establish thought bridges, subconscious connections and unexpected integrations between seemingly unrelated ideas. And as a result, you start to notice natural relationships and structures in your work you never would have seen by working on a single project.

Ultimately, this approach relaxes the process and helps contribute to greater consistency in your body of work. Are you willing to allocate your creativity attention to multiple endeavors?

3. Build a portable creative environment. A real artist can be creative any time, any place, with any tools. That’s the mark of a master: She shapes her immediate surroundings to feel in harmony with the small slice of the universe in which she finds herself.

As I learned in Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, “Whether the conditions in which they find themselves are luxurious or miserable, geniuses manage to give their surroundings a personal pattern that echoes the rhythm of their thoughts and habits of action. Within this environment of their own making, they can forget the rest of the world and concentrate on pursuing the muse.”

What are your portable creative environments? What enables you to enter into the creative flow at the drop of a hat? Have these on standby at all times. You’ll discover that by keeping alternative workspaces ready to go with transportable lightning rods tailor made to your tendencies, you’ll feel more in control of your surroundings.

That way, when inspiration comes unannounced, you’ll be ready to pounce. Can you do what you do anywhere?

4. Discipline derives from the wellspring of why. Willpower is overrated. If you want execute what matters most – every single day – you need to tap the reservoir of whypower.

Here’s the reason: When you actively cultivate the purpose driven nature of your work, discipline becomes a non-thought. What was once a desire becomes a habit. And what was once a habit becomes a non-negotiable. A positive addiction. Just something you do.

That’s why I’m able to write for seven hours a day, every day: Because I keep a list of one hundred reasons why I do what I do, in my wallet, and I read it to myself every morning. That’s your challenge: To become a walking translation of stunning clarity of purpose. To pinpoint the deepest motivations behind what you’re trying to discipline yourself to do. Find that, and you’ll have no problem slogging it out every day.

Remember: Daily bread without daily meaning tastes like daily crap. How are you fueling your discipline with a firm why?

5. Cultivate a more acute sense of resistance. Part of self-discipline is learning how to override yourself. That means becoming a master of your disinclination. That means discovering what frustrates your ambitions. And that means not allowing yourself the indulgence of saying you’re too busy.

Here’s the reality: The problem isn’t decreasing productivity – it’s diluted priorities. And you will lose the discipline game if you fall victim to what’s latest and loudest.

My suggestion: Extinguish whatever distractions seduce you. Drown out the world’s chatter and find the energy that urges you forward. And for the love of David Allen, stop performing minor tasks that engulf you in pointless, trivial action.

Instead, create around the constraint. Take the energy you’ve been burning on creative avoidance and redirect it to help you execute what matters. What’s your system for stamping out redundancy?

LOOK: It’s not my job to convince you to be more disciplined.

It’s hard work that nobody undertakes but you.
It’s unspectacular work that nobody notices but you.
It’s inconvenient work that nobody appreciates but you.

But discipline does mean freedom.

Freedom to be, freedom to do and freedom to have – pretty much anything.

I think it’s worth it.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How discipline are you prepared to be?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

How to Stay Rare

Rarity is inherent.

The problem is, there’s such pervasive pressure to remain average, that most people lose touch with what makes them exceptional.

HERE’S THE SECRET: It’s not about seeking rarity – it’s about squashing the barriers against finding it.

Here’s a list of suggestions to help you, your brand and your organization stay rare:1. Do it all with daring originality. Rare isn’t the absence of fear; rare is the absence of hesitation to move into that fear. That’s what I’ve learned as a writer: When you’re up against the fear, that’s exactly the time to move into it. Because that’s where genius lives.

For that reason, I constantly ask myself the following question as I’m working: “What do I risk in presenting this material?” If the answer is, “Not much,” I don’t write it. But if the answer is, “I might piss of somebody powerful,” then I absolutely write it.

That’s how I keep my material honest, personal and relatable. And in your own career, you might consider creating a policy, filter or standard operating procedure for attending to your fear.

Perhaps a ritual that greets fear with a welcoming heart, but also leverages it into something beautiful? Without such a practice, your creative flame gets smothered under the ashes of average.

In short: Resist the undertow of normal, pursue a perilous and uncertain course and welcome the difficulties that will propel you beyond ordinary. Even if they scare you. What type of marvelous intelligence is at work in your fear?

2. Clock out later than anybody. Everyone has a chunk of the great mystery in them. But unless they’re willing to put in a little overtime, they may never get the chance to share it with others.

I’m reminded of a classic episode of the Simpsons where Homer attends his twenty-year high school reunion. Not surprisingly, he wins the award for the graduate who gained the most weight.

“How’d you do it?” the principal asks as he presents the trophy. To which Homer replies, “By discovering a meal between breakfast and brunch.”

I know that’s a ridiculous premise – but that’s what rare people do: They break free from the jail of circumstance. They work their tails off to discover that extra meal. Then, from that place of abundance and enoughness, they’re able to give full scope to their colorful imagination. And maybe gain fifty pounds.

Plus, they know it’s not about finding time, it’s not even about making time – it’s about stealing time. Shoplifting whatever you can from the crowded day to focus on whatever makes your heart sing. Even if you only dedicate fifteen minutes a day. That’s still ninety extra hours a year.

Remember: What’s rare is the way you invest your life. What new meal will you discover?

3. Be somewhat predictable. Rarity means everything you do reminds people that they have not wasted the attention they’ve given you. The trick is: Humans are inclined to ignore the commonplace and remain alert to the unexpected. It’s the anthropological mechanism of self-preservation that’s safeguarded our species for millions of years.

This attribute can work to a rare person’s advantage insofar as attention in concerned: You stand out – you get noticed. Perfect. But when the unexpected is taken to the extreme, rare can turn into scare. “You can’t be offbeat in all ways, because then we won’t understand you and we’ll reject you,” writes author Seth Godin.

The secret, he says, is to make sure that some of the elements you present are perfectly aligned with what people are used to. Otherwise you’ll be perceived as a threat. Your challenge is to decide how much predictability you’re going to bring to the marketplace – and then remain consistent with its delivery.

Never forget: Brands are expectations. What has the public grown to expect from you?

4. Choose not to follow the appointed path. I’ve been taking the road less traveled pretty much my whole life. As such, anyone I meet who does the same is rare in my book.

Here’s why: Taking the road less traveled is simultaneously invigorating and intimidating. On one hand, you’re thrilled by the prospect of adventure. On the other, the uncertainty is so overwhelming that you crap your undies.

That’s the special brand of fear comes with the territory of rare. And your challenge is to accept that the voices in your head aren’t going to go away. In fact, they’re probably going to multiply.

But don’t worry – this is a good thing. Fear is the precursor of rare. And the louder those voices scream, the surer you can be that you’re following your heart. If you want rarity take root with extraordinary force, never forget: Anything of any value in life begins with the leap.

So take it. And remain radiant amidst the filth of the world. Are you standing on the foundation of your rarity, or sacrificing your life being everybody else’s dream machine?

5. Work without a net. In my favorite book about creativity, Ignore Everybody, Hugh McLeod advises, “The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.”

That’s the mark of a rare person: Someone who’s free enough to make the music she wants to hear – not the music the market wants to buy. The trick is determining the unique balance. After all, you still need to pay the mortgage.

But at the same time, you also need to define your own private creative domain. That’s what songwriter – and my hero – Chris Whitley accomplished during his career. He was a musician whose life at every level gave evidence of undisputed singularity. And according to his obituary in Acoustic Guitar:

“Chris was rare because he walked away from riches and avoided the carefully crafted record company image to maintain the integrity of his music. That allowed him to remain fearless when it came to following his musical instinct and it’s reflected in over a dozen elegantly forceful studio albums.”

The questions you might ask are: What are you willing to walk away from to stay rare? What are you willing to say no to for the sake of your own autonomy? And what covenant do you have to make with yourself to preserve your freedom? Answer those, and your life will become a living testament to what’s possible when you give yourself permission.

Remember: There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Are you the maestro of your own melody or the echo of someone else’s song?

6. Choose your commitment device. My generation is frequently typecast as being commitment-averse. The consensus is that we’re impatient, have a mediocre work ethic, don’t offer loyalty easily and are quick to quit and pursue something better.

Is that description accurate? I don’t know and I don’t care. What matters is that my commitment is unquestionable and that everyone who knows me, knows it.

That’s rare no matter what generation you come from. After all, the baseline posture of most people is not to believe you. We live in a low-trust culture and the world demands proof of your commitment. Without it, you will never be taken seriously – no matter how rare you are.

Ultimately, what you’re committed to matters less than how you wear that commitment. That’s the real rarity. And that’s exactly why I got the tattoo of the nametag on my chest. Sure, it was painful. But while the needle hurt my chest for an hour, not being taken seriously would hurt my business for a lifetime.

I wonder which commitment device you will choose. Or which one will choose you. How will you communicate to the people who matter most that you’re fully committed?

LOOK: You can’t block who you are.

And even if you could, apologizing for the best within you is the highest form of moral treason.

Stop stripping away your rarity.

Put an end to all this self-editing. All these unconscious acts of omission.

Otherwise you’ll wear yourself out trying to be something you’re not.

Instead, access your most elegant instrument. Figure out what you’re good at and do only that. And always retain burning contempt for imitation and mediocrity. Humanity will be better for your life.

You already carry something with you that’s just yours.

It’s your unique vision of the world. Your special blend of magic.

Fail to bring that with you, and risk becoming yesterday’s news.

But lay it naked for the world to see, and an unending rainfall of rarity will surround you.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you stay rare?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “19 Telltale Signs of the Perfect Job,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

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