In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves? self-discipline with all of them came first. ~Harry S. Truman
Growth does not happen by accident. Sitting in a chair won’t magically make my better at a my favorite sport. There is no miracle potion I can take to become a better writer, no pill I can take that will allow me to create a bestselling novel. I can’t sit and watch TV and expect to become a better at a craft be it woodworking, guitar playing, portrait painting, leading or any other endeavor worth pursuing.
To grow, one must fight entropy, the tendency of a entity to decay, by putting in sufficient effort to overturn entropy. Without effort, our skills will decay, with some effort, our skills will maintain their current level, with sustained effort our skills will continually grow, however, those skills will only keep growing as long as we continue to put in effort over an sustained period of time. Stop the effort and the skill level immediately begins to decay. Sit on the couch long enough and the skill may even drop to the original level, the level at which it started before the effort was put forth to grow.
All Growth requires training, requires practice, requires intentionality on the part of the person that wants to grow. Continual growth requires intentionality with the discipline to put in the effort when one would rather sit and watch TV. Quite simply, if you want to improve a skill you must engage the brain and body in activities that will systematically grow skills.
The skill I am most intentional at growing is my ability to lead people. One of the activities I engage in to improve my leadership skills is reading. With the rate of societal change in this world, if I maintain my current skill level, I will lose ground as a leader because the people’s needs of a leader will quickly move beyond my ability to lead. To offset the rate of change, I must grow at a faster rate of change than the needs I am trying to meet. To help me to grow at this faster rate, I read in a disciplined manner, which means, I set aside time each and every day to immerse myself in reading leadership materials such as books or blogs or articles in magazines. Because I have made this a discipline, I read even when I don’t feel like reading. I read if I am sick. I read if I am tired. I read if my day is so busy I barely have time for myself. There is nothing that I let get in my way of reading leadership materials each and every day.
Making sure I carve out at least 30 minutes every day to read about leadership is a discipline in my life because I believe it is a privilege to lead people, believe it is my duty to those that follow me either because they were assigned to my team or because they volunteered to be on my team to be the best leader I can possibly be. Out of respect for the people I lead, for me, reading has become a discipline.