Showing posts with label Self-Discipline. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Self-Discipline. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Personal Strengths of a 12 Year-Old Boy

Ned, watching birds with his camera (photo by Charm Peterson)
Last weekend I was in charge of a bird-watching (aka “birding”) field trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The 100 participants ranged in age from 12 to 92. Talk about diversity!

Often when preteens or teens attend, they’re accompanying parents who are eager to introduce them to the world of birds.

In this instance, two 12 year-old boys brought their mothers along. I knew one of the boys, Ned, because he’s a member of our local bird club. He’s been an avid birder for two years and has accompanied my husband Lee and me for Audubon bird counts.

Ned is not like most boys his age. As I watched him in action over the weekend, I was awed by his maturity and the personal strengths he exhibited.

Ned doesn't use binoculars to look at birds. While this is a must-have piece of equipment for most birders, Ned uses his camera exclusively. He’s taught himself to expertly zoom in and out to view a bird and take a picture at the same time. Pretty ingenious. I've never seen anyone else do that.

People who are serious birders keep a list of birds they've seen. When they encounter a new species, they call it a “life bird.” Some folks count birds that they barely see because they’re eager to add to their numbers. Not Ned. He holds himself to a very high standard. He only counts birds that he can photograph. He wants documented proof that he’s seen a specific species. As handy as he is with his camera, he’s been able to get a shot of almost every new species he encounters.

The host hotel offered a hot breakfast every morning, starting at 6:00AM. My husband Lee and I arrived at 6:10 both days. Ned was already there, by himself (his mother and buddy slept in), finishing up his morning meal. No one had to prod this kid to get up. He wanted to make the most of his time, so he arrived at the earliest possible moment. After clearing his table off, he scurried out the door to stand on the large deck just outside the breakfast room, looking for birds and capturing pictures of the sunrise.

Unlike many kids who have the attention span of a gnat, Ned was able to be still for long periods at a time and just WAIT. Whether he was sitting on a bench waiting for the sunrise or out in the field waiting for birds to show up, he seemed to just enjoy the moment and relish in whatever came next.

Because of the number of attendees, we divided into smaller groups for the field trips. No matter which group Ned was in, he brought an infectious enthusiasm that spread to others. This young man LOVES birding. He’d rather do that than almost anything else. You won’t see him with any electronic gadgets, playing video games or texting his friends. When we’d mention species that we might see on a particular trip and it was a new bird for him, Ned’s excited face lit up the room.

Yes, Ned left quite an impression on everyone, a very positive impression. You might say he was a phenomenon.

He certainly inspired me to appreciate the beauty around me - and life in general - in a more profound way.

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Four Downsides of Being a Lifelong Learner

Anyone who knows me well will be stunned to read the title of this post.

How can I say there are negative aspects to ongoing self-development? I’ve always invested heavily in my own personal and professional growth – both financially and experientially. And my software company has been publishing assessment and development tools for over 17 years.

But as one for whom learning is a passion, I’ve discovered there are four downsides.

#1 – Accumulating a lot of knowledge without applying it in the real world

I admit that I rarely read novels. I prefer business books on topics like marketing, sales, leadership and personal development. That’s because I absolutely love my business, and I’m always interested in learning how to improve systems, relationships and of course, our bottom line. But sometimes I start on the next book before I’ve taken time to analyze and use the insights gleaned from the one I just read.

Lesson: For every book or program you go through, list the ideas that make sense for your situation. Then commit to implementing the one strategy that will make the biggest difference in your business or life, and hold yourself accountable for doing it.

#2 – Getting overwhelmed with too much information

As I read books and newsletters, watch DVDs, and listen to CDs, I can get paralyzed. There are so many directions to go. Is it possible to organize the mass of ideas into a cohesive action plan?  And how do I deal with conflicting opinions and determine whose approach will get the best results?

Lesson: It’s about quality, not quantity. Determine the one subject, program or book to focus on, and dedicate time to it. Then use your gut as well as your rational mind to evaluate the concepts presented. Which ones sound and feel right for your business? Just one book with one idea can transform the way you do things and the outcomes you achieve. Look for the nuggets.

#3 – Spending money on the next hot idea before mastering the ones already purchased 

Falling into this trap contributes to the situation described in #2. Some people call this tendency the “bright shiny object” syndrome. I’ll hear about a great solution to a business challenge, and I sometimes want to dive into that when I haven’t finished going through the materials I’ve already invested in.

Lesson: Use self-restraint and self-discipline. Say “no” to any attractive offers that come along until you’ve fully digested the one you’re consuming now. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that continually blast you with the next great offer promising to double or triple your results. Find someone who will require you to justify your reason for wanting to make a particular purchase.

#4 – Experiencing the uneasy feeling that you’re still not ready or good enough

When I’m studying the work of people who’ve specialized in a particular subject for many years, I sometimes feel inadequate. I’ve postponed taking action because of thoughts like, “If I just get a little more information about this, then I’ll be able to do that.” The truth is, there’s no end to the comparisons that could be made where I would fall short.

Lesson: No matter what field you’re in, there’s always room to grow and learn. You’ll never reach the end of what you can become, but don’t let that stop you from using the knowledge, skills and talents you already possess. Give yourself full credit for what you already have, and recognize that when you try things, they don’t have to be perfect.

The Bottom Line

Despite the drawbacks I’ve described here, I intend to continue my pursuit of becoming a better version of myself. The process of thinking about and articulating these four downsides has made me more keenly aware of their potential to harm instead of help me in my journey. As a result, I’ll keep my eyes wide open and be more careful to avoid these traps going forward.

Because in the end, it’s not about what you know. It’s about what you do with what you know.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Self-Discipline – The Key to Productivity

Dan Kennedy and me at Glazer-Kennedy SuperConference

Dan Kennedy, a marketing mentor to entrepreneurs and small businesses, is one of the most prolific writers I know. He publishes one or two books each year and contributes original articles to several newsletters every month. People are amazed at the number of written words he’s able to produce in a single year.

Now Dan will be the first to tell you that he enjoys goofing off as much as anyone else. So what’s his secret to achieving such consistently high levels of performance? Working to deadlines. He uses what he calls “self-imposed” discipline to complete his ambitious task list each day.

What you should do is often at odds with what you want to do. It’s tough to stay on track and follow through, especially when you could be doing something more fun. That’s why many people don't reach their goals – they’re just not willing to say NO to the easy stuff and YES to the hard stuff often enough.

But when you don’t impose discipline on yourself, you can’t achieve the long-term results you want. Your self-respect suffers because you let yourself down and you lose confidence in your ability to get things done.

So what’s the solution? The first step is to recognize that self-control has to come from within you. No one else can give you discipline. Don’t blame circumstances or other people for your failure to stay on track. Take full responsibility for what you want to achieve.

Next, make a conscious decision to control your thoughts and your actions. Put yourself under a self-imposed plan with start times, stop times and deadlines. Then stick with your schedule, even when you’re tired or you feel lazy. Just say no to other activities and do what you committed to do.

Finally, keep track. Measure your progress at the end of each day, and hold yourself accountable for what you accomplished. At the same time, review the payoffs you got from completing these tasks. This will fuel your motivation and help you stick with your plan.

These steps will not help you, though, unless you have a big “WHY.” You must have a vision or goal that’s significant enough to drive you to do what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like it. Figure out your purpose, and you’ll be amazed at the self-discipline you can apply.
“How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.” – Stephen Covey, American author (1932- )

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Self-Discipline - Control Your Thoughts and Actions.

When you’re working on a challenging goal, you can get distracted by things that are easier and more fun. Close off appealing options and you’ll achieve the results you want. 

How do you respond when you feel conflicted about what you SHOULD do vs. what you WANT to do?
"Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself." - Abraham Heschel, American theologian
"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 Truman, American president
"It's easy to say 'no!' when there's a deeper 'yes!' burning inside." - Stephen Covey, American author

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."
- Jim Rohn, American author