Note: In the first post in this series “Leadership Assets: Discipline” I discussed what self-discipline is and why it is important for us not only in our leadership roles, but in our lives. That post can be found here.
Today I’ll be exploring this topic in a bit more depth, with the ultimate intention of completing this short series with my next post in July.
Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear and doubt. ~H.A. Dorfman
As I shared last month, I’ve found that self-discipline ultimately frees me up, allowing me to have a more expansive and fulfilling life. I cannot be as successful as I desire to be without it—it is a necessary component in the recipe for balanced, lasting center-holding and I have yet to find any satisfactory substitutions.
Self-motivation and self-discipline help me to create beautiful, powerful things; beautiful, powerful things that I feel deeply and often unavoidably called to accomplish, build, and birth forth in this lifetime. I’ve come to realize that like these desires, self-discipline can only come from within.
As leaders, it is absolutely vital for us to cultivate this quality. If we cannot expect discipline from ourselves, we certainly cannot expect it from our spiritual family, or from anyone else.
And, as leaders, it is our *job* to solidly, firmly hold the community container at all times—and there is no good way to do this effectively without our self-discipline to buoy us during the days when we’re not feeling physically or emotionally well; when we have no energy; when we think we have nothing left to give; when we’re overworked, exhausted, distracted, discouraged, bored, uninspired, unmotivated, uncaring, joyless, etc.
(And yes, these days come for us all, if they haven’t already. This is a matter of course for *any* long-term commitment.)
Self-discipline serves us when the initial bloom of the beauty we find in our service withers, bolts, goes to seed, dies.
It serves us when members of our spiritual family turn on us for no reason we can discern. It serves us when we see on social media that everyone else is out having fun and we were distinctly not invited. It serves us when our motives are emphatically or intentionally misunderstood. It serves us when we’re projected upon and need to stay calm and collected in the face of it. It serves us when gossip drags our good names through the field of shit. It serves us when we’re ghosted by those we had been counting on. It serves us when we find ourselves deserted in the thrashed Temple after a long, demanding night of ritual service and it needs to be cleaned inside and out for the next gathering *now*. And it serves us when we feel absolutely—dishearteningly—alone, forgotten, and abandoned.
(And if you haven’t yet felt absolutely alone, forgotten, and abandoned in the course of your leadership, it will happen. Believe me, there is no way to avoid this…and I think that it’s actually necessary for leveling up…but that is another post for another time.)
If I can’t seem to make the time to do what must be done to keep my community healthy, happy, and spiraling up, that’s a sign that there is something wrong. Let’s be honest here: saying “I’m too busy” is really just a way to avoid and dodge whatever the truth is. We’re never going to *not* be busy in this lifetime and using our “busyness” as an excuse for not doing something is a story we tell ourselves to hide from the truth and make ourselves feel better.
If I am consistently making excuses or not “feelin’ it,” then there is a much deeper issue that must be uncovered and addressed. I know that no matter what barriers have seemed to be in front of me, I have always been able to find a way to do or manifest what I really, really, really want.
If I am unwilling to do what needs to be done, then something is blocking me. The converse of self-discipline is most often procrastination, and it’s my belief that we most commonly procrastinate because we don’t know what steps need to be taken.
Good questions to ask of ourselves in these situations could include: Do I really want to meet this goal? Have I stopped myself because I don’t know what comes next? Am I blocking myself because I’m afraid of making a mistake? Why don’t I want to do this? Is it not part of my Path? Is it no longer my role? Am I afraid of failure? Of success? Am I afraid of something else? Or—perhaps most importantly—is this something I don’t really want?
And if we realize that we don’t want it, there is no shame in that! If we need to take a break or change our direction, then let’s simply own that and move on. Excuses deplete our agency, erode our self-confidence, and drain our sense of self-worth.
Once we’ve discovered whatever the truth is for us, we can then get back to moving forward—or letting go!—and usually with far lighter steps.
We can improve our skill with self-discipline by making it a consistent way of life—making a Sacred Agreement with ourselves that no excuses are allowed. When we are self-motivated, we are fully trusting in ourselves and in our abilities.
No matter how things turn out in the end, we learn to believe in ourselves, in our ability to keep our Word, and in our own integrity. This in turn bring us self-confidence and allows us to be self-referential, not needing the approval of others to follow our own intuition, our own unique Path. There is a great freedom available to us in this, one that cannot be achieved in any other way.
Whew! I hope this helps to clarify some of the things I didn’t get to in last month’s post. In July, I’ll be sharing some of the ways that I’ve cultivated my own self-discipline. In the meantime, I’m always open to your suggestions, and I’d love to hear *your* thoughts about all of this, Dear Ones!
With Love, Lady Jesamyn
Art: Pictures by me and altars by Sisterhood of the Moon Priestesses