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Biz tip of the week: Self-discipline comes from within

Biz tip of the week: Self-discipline comes from within

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Many people grow up and are not disciplined as children. They are not disciplined by their parents, grandparents or teachers. When they struggle with self-discipline as adults, they often cite this as the reason. This may not be the case, however.

According to Jocko Willink, former Navy Seal team commander, you do not learn self-discipline from external sources, and it is not inherited. It must come from within you. Certainly, you can learn the difference between right and wrong. You can join the military and learn what discipline is. Ultimately, you will need to make the internal decisions which determine if you are disciplined or not.

In a recent podcast on the subject, Willink cites cases from the entire spectrum, including children raised without any good role models to those brought up in the very best environments imaginable. According to Willink, there is no direct correlation between the childhood environment and an individual’s internal level of responsibility as an adult.

The key to self-discipline is the conscious decision to take ownership and accountability of your own actions. It is developing a mindset of responsibility. Blaming other people or counting on them to give you self-discipline is not the answer.

If you struggle with self-discipline, Willink recommends making a list of the things you know you are supposed to do and start doing them. This list may include things like wake up early, clean your room and make the bed. Then work out for an hour, eat good food and maybe show up early to work every day. He also recommends making a list of the things you should not be doing and stop doing those things.

Willink adds that self-discipline is not easy, but you cannot get it from anyone else but you. It is worth the effort, as it brings a sense of freedom and self-confidence. Discipline is essential if you want to achieve your goals.

Are there areas of your life that need more discipline?

Bill Nordbrock is VP of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling. For more information, go to, send an email to or call 505-3636.

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