When I discuss the necessity of discipline, it often evokes sighs, tuning out, and even displays of anger. I’m already doing everything I can possibly do, giving all I can possibly give! I don’t have time! I work ten hours a day! I’m exhausted! How can adding another task to my list help? You just don’t understand!
Today, I’m inviting us all to open up to a different perspective around discipline. Please know that I *do* understand. I have “been there,” and I am still quite often maxed out. The distinction is that now I have a structure I can lean into when my cup is overfilled and overflowing. Having the resource of discipline in place has made all the difference in the quality of my life as a Priestess and a leader in public service.
When we are disciplined—in our leadership, in our studies, in our Craft, in our lives—our energies are actually freed up to do *more* of the things we love, more of the things that we *want* to do, more of those things that bring us joy, fulfillment, and peace.
Willpower and perseverance in the face of stress and overwhelm are both rooted in self-discipline, and both of these qualities are necessary for our success in leadership, and elsewhere. When we make the time to fully develop our capacity for discipline, our work flows more efficiently, and we head off many disasters that come of being unprepared, unready, or unaware.
Self-disciple then becomes one of our greatest assets. Since, as Debbie Ford tells us, “No one is coming to save you,” it’s up to us to do the things that need doing without external threats or coercion. Remember, as leaders, the buck ultimately stops with us—there is no one else for us to pass down to the ultimate responsibility or authority for our communities (nor should there be).
When we are self-disciplined, we are genuinely connected to our sovereignty, taking full responsibility for what goes on in our lives. This is entirely self-referential, self-motivated, and self-validating, having nothing to do with externally imposed projects, deadlines, or to-do lists. We are holding our own selves answerable at all times instead of waiting around for someone else to check up on us to make sure we carried out our commitments. This requires of us consistent and unflagging responsibility for ourselves, our dreams, and own our agency—which is mostly freeing and sometimes terrifying.
We do what needs to be done because we sincerely want the results—we *want* that ownership, that pride of success, that sense of accomplishment and the fulfillment that only comes from it.
Let’s choose to view self-discipline not as punishment but rather as practice, training, and honing a characteristic that assists us in creating strong containers and healthy foundations to work from to reach our goals. One that can be of especial service to us when times get tough and we lack motivation or inspiration or delight in the day-to-day. Self-discipline can help us to keep going, preventing things from falling down when the Muse hasn’t responded to our pleas for intercession and our energies are low or nonexistent.
Our internal discipline supports us in finishing tasks instead of dropping them when they get “boring,” when the spark and excitement of the original idea is just a threadbare memory. It helps us to remain focused on the big picture, the true vision, reminding us to persevere through all the little, mundane, tedious, and tiresome tasks that aren’t at all captivating but are necessary to reach the goals and successes our very Souls desire.
The asset of discipline is not about instant gratification, feeling wonderful, or being entertained in the moment—it is instead the promise that keeps us moving towards manifesting the greater rewards we’re seeking.
Once discipline is put into practice as a daily habit, it doesn’t require much extra effort or exertion, and it’s honestly not that dreary or distasteful. It certainly doesn’t take the sacrifice of all life’s fun and, aside from extenuating circumstances, it’s generally not even very constricting. In fact, I’ve found it far more overwhelming to be underprepared than to apply some self-discipline at the outset of a project. The *actions* we need to take may not always be remarkably satisfying or highly entertaining, but the result of self-discipline almost always is.
I’ve come to realize that I cannot fully achieve my dreams without finely tuning the asset of self-discipline. Instead of choosing what’s easiest in the moment, I’m learning to choose what is best. Instead of reaching for what briefly feels pleasurable, I stretch for what is better for the community over the long run. I’ve learned that sometimes I need to do things that aren’t very pleasurable for me personally, because they are for the highest good of the group, which is my priority.
For example, I sure don’t like reminding my spiritual family members of their commitments or our Agreements with one another, but if I don’t speak to an occurrence when it happens, an unconscious assumption is made that that behavior is acceptable and it will then continue, sooner or later becoming a detriment to the health of our community.
In this human form, it takes discipline to do things that are scary, annoying, or not specifically gratifying. It takes discipline to hold the greater vision when we would rather ignore it for a while and just have some fun. (And this is definitely acceptable and important in its proper time and place! Fun needs to be had!)
As in developing any new habit, it’s necessary to continue purposely pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones until disciplined behavior becomes a part of *who we are*, until we have expanded to include self-discipline as an intrinsic part of our new selves. We must be willing to adapt and course correct on a daily—sometimes hourly—basis, knowing that once self-discipline is automatic, it will free up our energies, making us more efficient, with everything we do using up less time and less effort.
Self-discipline is concerned with placing the greater vision first so that it becomes a reality. And when I can hold this intention instead of obsessing over my own individual desires, the greater vision is achieved, and I remember that it’s all worth it: all of the energy, the pain, the frustration, even the loneliness that I experienced along the way.
I’ll be digging deeper into this topic in months to come—and I’d love to hear your thoughts thus far, Dear Ones!
With Love, Lady Jesamyn