As a student of R.Buckminster Fuller, I have found his core foundation of self disciplines very inspiring. (See Critical Path, Chapter 4.) Late last year I resolved to form my own set.
I will be clear, this is not the first time I have created a list – or code – to live by. The distinction is that this is the first time I have, in my increasing maturity, created a list that I know in my heart resonates with my highest values and that I hold the highest commitment to.
I was determined to keep this list as brief as possible. And to have it as part of my daily practice of review. No good to make it and throw it in the drawer. Each day I read this list and check that I honour my agreement to self. If I am unable to honour this agreement to self, then I will watch as my self esteem erodes, and I become a person I am unable to trust. I will not be my word.
Discipline =Disciple unto the self.
Disciple = pupil, to learn, to take apart, to grasp intellectually.
An important distinction to make about discipline is that to truly be a disciple unto the self, we need to discriminate between when to do what we have said we would do because to not would be failing ourselves and others, and when the body/soul/mind would be better served to take a break.
This is the fine distinction between discipline and obsession.
Obsession is when the mind/ego is in control, discipline is when the self/our highest wisdom, is clearly heard and acted on. Learning to distinguish between the voice of the ego and the voice of the highest self is one of the journeys we take as we learn to honour self. These skill sets are critical in our personal development.
Show me anyone who has ever achieved anything of significance without a healthy dose of discipline?
Many people find discipline abhorrent. In our world, the search for freedom is such a big deal that we have simply forgotten that the partner of freedom is discipline. They are paired, forever, as the two sides of a coin.
If you want more freedom, consider then your own self disciplines. If you want a foundation for leadership development, to be a better leader…this is a place to start.
I share with you now the list I have as my core self disciplines. I will go through each one briefly, explaining what they are and what they mean to me. They are in no particular order. Each one is significant and synergistic.
1. Clean Communication
2. Daily exercise-maintain health
3. Spend less than I earn. Pay cash only for personal items.
4. Learn fully from my mistakes.
5. Be in Gratitude
6. Give more than I take
7. Be open/receptive
8. Impeccable Integrity
9. Use gravitational attraction as my marketing plan, by giving massively to more people.
10. Say no to anything unless it is an absolute yes.
1. Clean Communication
This simply means that there is nothing I need to say, to anyone, at anytime. I have no residual upset, there is nothing about another persons actions or words to me that bug me on any level. For more on this see this article.
2. Daily Exercise-Maintain Health
This one is easy for me, as I have been practicing health and self care for 25 years. However, it is important that I keep this on the list, as I also get to look at the multiple ways I maintain health. Good food from local suppliers, great sleep, great company and emotional support, plenty of exercise that makes me feel good and happy, keeping my weight at its right place, dining in venues that are passionate about good food..these are some of the components of great health. I feel vital, alive, energised.
3. Spend less than I earn. Spend only cash for personal items
This one has been an Achilles heel for me (and for many others, as evident in our current global situation). How easy has it been to pay for things by credit! Enough. We have to learn patience, restraint, and what ENOUGH means. I have zero credit cards.
4. Learn Fully From My Mistakes
Mistakes are the way we learn. They are the good guys, yet we so often see them as the bad guys. They become bad guys if we make the same mistake over and over again.To take the time to review mistakes, understand our process in making them, and be certain we do not need to repeat the mistake again, is a worthy investment of time. You will know when you have got the lesson because there will be zero residue. No guilt, shame, embarrassment, upset, angst, anger etc. All gone. Very liberating.
5. Be in Gratitude
People I admire most alive and dead speak about gratitude and the daily practice of gratitude. Each night before I go to bed I have a gratitude journal, where I list the things I am grateful for on this day. This is really easy to do when you have great days, harder to do when you are miserable, or have endured suffering. We can always find gratitude. We breath, we think…As a runner I am always grateful for being able to walk and run. Those times when I am injured and am unable to run or walk without pain remind me of the very simple pleasure of running and walking freely. We have so much to be grateful for.
6. Give more than I take
Generosity of heart, mind and spirit is worth cultivating. There is a big distinction between givers and takers. Persistent takers suck energy. Their gluttony for certain things indicates a broken part of themselves that is forever unfilled. Some givers have to also learn to take. They can find receiving unbearable, indicating a part of themselves that feels unworthy. I aim to be ever mindful of giving more, and to be sure that I do. Giving comes in many forms. A kind thought, a smile, a compliment, physical gifts, time, energy, prayer.
7. Be Open/Receptive
An open mind and open heart require vigilance to maintain. It is very easy for us to shut down. We either shut down our thinking, and live in righteousness, or shut down our heart and block expansiveness and love. We can also shut down our body, and withdraw self from the world. As we grow in maturity we do need to learn discrimination about when it is wise to build some boundaries and protections. Not every message out there is healthy for the soul. Distinguishing between messages sent with love and to add value, and messages sent to harm and overpower is an important part of learning about being open and receptive.
8. Impeccable Integrity
The practice of integrity is multifaceted. Integrity means wholeness. To live an integrous life means to live in truth at every level of self. Expressing ourselves as we were designed. On the micro level it means no lying, either overtly, or covertly. It means that what we say to self and others, is what we do. It means taking the highest road possible. When we look into our eyes in the mirror, we know we are in truth.
9. Using gravitational attraction as my marketing plan, by giving massively to ever more people.
Gravitational attraction is about increased mass. I don’t mean literal physical mass, but metaphysical energetic mass. The more we live in impeccable integrity and all of the other self disciplines mentioned, the more mass we have. And the more mass we have the more attraction works. (This point speaks to marketing at the individual level specifically. No matter what work you do, self employed, employed etc, you need to have a personal marketing plan. Gravitational attraction also works for businesses and companies. It is the invisible difference that makes the difference.)
There are some very subtly seductive marketing methods that make my skin crawl. They appeal to our greed, or loneliness, or our desires to be rich. We read their long spiels and find ourselves saying yes to something that we actually don’t really want.
Bucky refused to market at all. While I do think his choice was the extreme, and he did so consciously to demonstrate how the Universe would support him, integrous marketing allows for the people who want and need the service you are offering to be able to find you to make a clear choice that is in their highest interests. It means offering way more value than people expect, and allowing relationship to build through generosity. Simultaneously, a clear acknowledgement of the value you have to offer is presented.
10. Say no to anything unless it is an absolute yes
When we are in complete alignment and every cell, muscle, heart beat, says to us YES, then go for it. Anything that is not this needs to be put on hold, worked through, more questions need to be asked, until we reach this place of YES.
This practice means we avoid the experience of…if only I had of listened.It also honours our spirit and infinite wisdom.
Bucky’s self disciplines and mine are different. When I decided to write my own set, I wanted to choose ones that I could honour and knew I would keep.
I have shown you my choices with the intention of inspiring you to create your own. If you have had a weak self discipline up until this time, then only choose one to start. Be sure you choose with great consciousness and intent. And then stick to it as if your life depended on it. For at the soul level, it really does.
Remember, these are there to set you free.
PS. Update. This was written nearly 10 years ago. These self disciplines have been my constant companion since then. I can rely on me to hold me to them. In my work as a mentor and coach I can help you construct your own self disciplines.