• Brent Gleeson

Cultivating Self-Discipline

Brent has amazing leadership skills and has shared his 9 tips on how to teach yourself self-discipline. Quickly take a look at our thoughts from his article. The second portion of the writing portrays the ex SEAL's 9 best tips on self-discipline.

Step 1...

Focuses on the basis of our minds and bodies. You have to know what you’re good at, and what you’re not. This is the basis of where your transformation starts. Once you know your strengths, you know what you have the most potential for, by knowing your weaknesses you know where you need to improve. It is human for all of us to have different strengths and weaknesses than other people. Everyone is different, so just because you don’t excel in Geography (for example) doesn’t mean you don’t have other strengths too.

Step 2...

Temptations are anything that would distract you from your current plan, and goal. Trying to study with your phone beside you when you’re in a busy group chat or prioritizing a party over a school project. Remember that you are the one chasing your goal. If there is something distracting you from reaching your goal, you need to know what that is and act upon it so it doesn’t become a distraction anymore. Learn how to identify and prioritize your goals. This doesn’t mean you should only focus on your goal 24/7, but it does mean you need to manage your time responsibly.

Step 4...

Habits are initiated through will-power and diligence. If you don't pour yourself 100% on what you want to do, you won't be able to do it.

Step 5 & 6...

Creating habits and believing in the strength of your own willpower.

Your body and mind work best when they are in sync with a detailed schedule. Organization is key in finding the time you need to complete the things that will lead you to your goal. Discipline and perseverance are key to achieving success.

Step 8...

Is very important, especially for educators. Your students need to feel safe and respected when they are with you. Correct and progressive education is extremely important in order to shape the minds of your students in order for them to venture into the world.

Step 9...

Focuses on forgiveness. Forgive yourself when things go wrong. You’re not a robot. You don’t know everything in the world. You’re going to make mistakes along the way, and that’s okay. You will learn and try again! Keep going.

Take a look at this article from Brent to see how he attributes his leadership skills onto these 9 steps:


9 Powerful Ways To Cultivate Extreme Self-Discipline

STEP ONE: Know your strengths and weaknesses.

We all have weaknesses. Whether they’re the desire for alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy food, obsession with social media, or the video game Fortnite (what the heck is with this game by the way?!), they have a similar effect on us. Weaknesses don’t just come in the form of areas where we lack self-control either. We all have our strong suits and the stuff we kind of stink at. For example, I don’t care for having difficult conversations, lengthy paperwork that involves digging up old documents I never saved in the first place, holding my temper when someone is shooting at me, or calling into automated phone systems. And therefore, I used to actively (or purposefully) avoid these activities. Now, I strive to tackle them head-on—or I delegate them to others. (Never forget about the subtle art of delegation!)

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for comfort zone expansion, but it requires constant focus and acknowledging your shortcomings, whatever they may be. I suffered from bad allergies and asthma growing up and had terrible eyesight. Those were some significant weaknesses when considering becoming a Navy SEAL. But so what? I trained hard to improve my lung function and used money I’d saved for LASIK eye surgery. Too often people either try to pretend their vulnerabilities don’t exist or they succumb to them with a fixed mindset, throwing their hands up in defeat and saying, “Oh well.” Know your strengths, but more importantly, own up to your flaws. You can’t overcome them until you do.

STEP TWO: Remove temptations.

“I can resist anything except temptation.” ~ OSCAR WILDE

Like the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” It may seem silly, but this phrase offers powerful advice. By simply removing the biggest temptations from your environment, you will greatly improve your self-discipline. When I decided I was going to pursue the lofty goal of becoming a SEAL, everything in my life had to change. If you want to eat healthier, toss the junk food in the trash. Want to drink less? Throw out the booze. If you want to enhance your productivity at work, improve the management of your To-Do’s, turn off social media notifications and silence your cell phone. Prioritize and execute.

The fewer distractions you have, the more focused you will be on accomplishing your goals. Set yourself up for success by ditching bad influences.

STEP THREE: Set clear goals and have an execution plan.

If you hope to achieve greater degrees of self-discipline, you must have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish, just like any goal. You must also have an understanding of what success means to you. After all, if you don’t know where you are going, it’s easy to lose your way or get sidetracked. Remember to prioritize. At TakingPoint Leadership, when we work with our corporate clients on strategic planning, execution, and organizational transformation, we remind them that having ten priorities translates to no priorities.

A clear plan outlines each time-bound step you must take to reach your goals. Create a mantra to keep yourself focused. Successful people use this technique to stay on track, emotionally connect to their mission, and establish a clear finish line.

STEP FOUR: Practice daily diligence.

We aren’t born with self-discipline; it’s a learned behavior. And just like any other skill you want to master, it requires daily practice and repetition. It must become habitual. But the effort and focus that self-discipline requires can be draining. As time passes, it can become more and more difficult to keep your willpower in check. The bigger the temptation or decision, the more challenging it can feel to tackle other tasks that also require self-control.

So, work on building your self-discipline through daily diligence in a given area associated with a goal. This goes back to step three. In order to practice daily diligence, you must have a plan. Put it on your calendar, your to-do list, tattoo it on the back of your eyelids - whatever works best for you. With practice, anyone can push the boundaries of their comfort zone every day.

STEP FIVE: Create new habits and rituals.

Acquiring self-discipline and working to instill a new habit can feel daunting at first, especially if you focus on the entire task at hand. To avoid feeling intimidated, keep it simple. Break your goal into small, doable steps. Instead of trying to change everything at once, focus on doing one thing consistently and master self-discipline with that goal in mind.

As we say in the SEAL Teams, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

If you’re trying to get in shape but don’t exercise regularly (or ever), start by working out ten or fifteen minutes a day. If you’re trying to achieve better sleep habits, start by going to bed thirty minutes earlier each night. If you want to eat healthier, change your grocery shopping habits and prep meals ahead of time. Take baby steps. Eventually, when your mindset and behavior start to shift, you can add more goals to your list.

STEP SIX: Change your perception of willpower.

If you believe you have a limited amount of willpower, you probably won’t surpass those limits. As I mentioned previously, studies show that willpower can deplete over time. But what about changing that perception? The SEAL candidate who believes they probably won’t make it through training won’t succeed. Why assume our will to win can only take us so far?

When we embrace the mindset of unlimited willpower, we continue to grow, achieve more, and develop mental toughness. It’s the same philosophy as setting “stretch” goals. In short, our internal conceptions about willpower and self-control can determine how disciplined we are. If you can remove these subconscious obstacles and truly believe you can do it, then you will give yourself an extra boost of motivation toward making those goals a reality.

STEP SEVEN: Give yourself a backup plan.

In the SEAL Teams, we always have contingency plans. Psychologists use a technique to boost willpower called “implementation intention.” That’s when you give yourself a plan to deal with a potentially difficult situation you know you will likely face. To be clear, I am not referring to a backup plan under the auspices that you’ll probably fail at Plan A.

Let’s say you aspire to become a trapeze expert, but tell yourself, “Well, I’m probably not going to excel at this, so chances are I’ll be sticking with miniature golf.” That’s a lame backup plan wrapped in mediocrity. We are talking about contingencies for intentional course correction, not planning for failure. So be bold and keep moving forward. Going in with a plan will help give you the mindset and self-control necessary for the situation. You will also save energy by not having to make a sudden decision based on your emotional state.

STEP EIGHT: Find trusted coaches or mentors.

The development of expertise requires coaches who are capable of giving constructive, even painful, feedback. Real experts are extremely motivated students who seek out such feedback. They’re also skilled at understanding when and if a coach or mentor’s advice doesn’t work for them.

The elite performers I’ve known and worked with always knew what they were doing right while concentrating on what they were doing wrong. They deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who would challenge them and drive them to higher levels of performance. The best coaches also identify aspects of your performance that will need to be improved at your next level of skill and aid you in preparation.

STEP NINE: Forgive yourself and move forward.

Even with all our best intentions and well-laid plans, we sometimes fall short. It happens. You will have ups and downs, great successes, and dismal failures. The key is to keep going. A very close SEAL buddy of mine has had a lifelong dream of not just serving in the SEAL Teams but also making it to our tier one special mission unit. He has every qualification this unit could possibly want, but for some reason, they didn’t select him on his first application attempt. Did he wallow in sorrow? Not for one second. He immediately developed a plan to request even more “schools,” train even harder, and he transferred to a different SEAL Team for a better chance to get picked up next time. Easy day.

If you stumble, find the root cause by asking the five WHY’s and move on. Don’t let yourself get wrapped up in guilt, anger, or frustration, because these emotions will only drag you further down and impede future progress.

Learn from your missteps and forgive yourself. Then get your head back in the game and violently execute. Good luck!


Brent's website


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