An examination of each of the four basic elements of the definition of Discipline, each directly applied to the task of taking control of your physical health
The scope of the definition of discipline is very broad and complicated. The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s listing alone contains: two entries, nine definitions and 5 sub-definitions, paving the way for many different interpretations of the word.
Have you ever thought about discipline, its meaning, and the role, if any, it play’s in your life?
The concept of discipline has many different connotations, depending on with whom you are speaking. Some people view discipline as the "Vince Lombardi" type of gruff, no nonsense, toughness and teamwork demanded of the players on a football team. Other people view it as the commitment to endure the endless hours of demanding practice of a concert pianist, or the capacity to live the cloistered and strictly regimented life of a monk. Still others see it as the ability to conquer the physical, mental and psychological rigors of something as intense as military basic training.
While these are all accurate descriptions of situations in which discipline is used to achieve a particular goal, they are not actually definitions of the word.
I never thought about what discipline meant to me, until I attempted to define the term in written words and realized that I could not. I had used the word hundreds of times in my life, in relation to different situations at home, work and in athletics. I felt as though I understood the concept of discipline and had a significant “gut feeling” about it, but I could articulate neither the concept nor the “gut feeling” to others in a way in which they would perceive them exactly as I did.
Then, while watching television one day, I happened upon a sports interview with coach Bobby Knight. In that interview he spoke about his time as head basketball coach at The United States Military Academy at West Point, and, in relation to that, articulated a definition of discipline that I have never forgotten. He said that discipline is doing what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, every time you are supposed to do it and doing it to the very best of your ability. In my opinion, this is as pure, simple, and unadulterated a definition of the word as one can get. In addition, this definition is universal in that it’s 4 basic elements can effectively be applied to absolutely any situation in life and, if rigidly followed, will always produce positive and successful results.
The immense task of taking control of your physical health is best attacked in the same way you would eat an elephant. One bite at a time! Break this huge task into smaller, more manageable component tasks and strategically attack each one.
An examination of each of the four basic elements of the definition of discipline, each directly applied to the task of taking control of your physical health, will demonstrate why I feel this way.
The first basic element, “Doing what you are supposed to do,” means identifying a particular task and then acquiring a thorough understanding of the proper way to perform that task. When using this element to take control of your physical health, you may want to research proper ways to perform smaller, more specific tasks such as, strength training, stretching, aerobic training, modifying your diet, or eliminating bad habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption. You can then attack each task independently.
The second basic element, “When you are supposed to do it,” refers to the timing, in concrete terms, of a particular task. When this element is applied to each of the smaller tasks involved in taking control of your physical health, you will delineate exactly what time of day and how many days a week you will work out, stretch or perform an aerobic activity. You will also delineate exactly when you will begin to modify your diet or eliminate your bad habits.
The third basic element, “Every time you are supposed to do it,” refers to commitment and dependability. The fact that you have identified, learned how to successfully perform, and delineated exactly when you will complete a task, becomes worthless if you cannot depend on yourself to be committed enough to consistently perform that task. You must fight through the extreme challenge presented by the “boredom of repetition,” that exists in any long-term task.
The fourth basic element, “Doing it to the best of your ability,” refers specifically to applying maximum intensity to the individual effort required to perform each task.
Simply stated, the magnitude of the success you achieve in obtaining the major task of taking control of your physical health, will be directly proportional to the magnitude of the intensity of the effort you apply to achieving each of the smaller component tasks. Applying the framework of this specific definition of “Discipline” to the major challenge of taking control of your physical health, will afford you the best possible opportunity for success. I would tell you “Good Luck,” but luck is not involved in achieving your goal. There is only hard work, commitment and your determination to succeed. So, suck it up, and get to it!
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Author Bio - Dr. Andrew J. Lucas
Practiced for more than 30 years as a Chiropractor in Washington, Pennsylvania, specializing in the treatment of both acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders.
Graduated from Waynesburg College (now Waynesburg University) in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
Graduated in 1985 from the National College of Chiropractic (now National University of Health Sciences) with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology.
In 1989 he successfully completed the Diplomate program for Orthopedics through the postgraduate division of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.
I am currently retired and no longer a practicing chiropractor, nor do I hold a current professional license in the medical field. The information presented is solely based on my experiences as a professional and for informational purposes only. Please consult with your physician prior to any new or changing fitness endeavors. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities promoted by this site.