Culture of Discipline

These last few days, I have been thinking about how important discipline is in growing your business.

To be honest, I am a bit stuck in this area. Sometimes a discipline becomes a habit, and the habit can become invisible when it falls into the unconscious competences phase of mastery. Unfortunately, there is a danger of becoming unconscious – attrition and complacency can set in.  So now I am in the process of reviewing the core principles for myself again to get unstuck.


Part of this review is to go back to my mentors of which one is Jim Collins. Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” has played a significant role in my business thinking. I would like to share with you his thoughts on a culture of discipline.

Culture of Discipline is a concept developed in the book Good to Great. Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action—operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities—this is the cornerstone of a culture that creates greatness. In a culture of discipline, people do not have jobs; they have responsibilities. When you blend a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get a magical alchemy resulting in superior performance.” – Jim Collins

In one of his talks, he distinguishes between discipline and bureaucracy.  I love how he puts it” The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence.” So many business leaders fall into the trap of micromanaging to overcome incompetence. Save yourself lots of trouble by not going down that trail. Instead give people a clear outcome, boundaries in which they can run and then step out of the way.

I’ll give the last word to Collins again: “And never confuse discipline with conformity. True discipline requires an independence of mind. True discipline means we are so clear about what is important, we are so clear that we don’t allow what everybody else says to knock us off course.”

The Brutal Liberation of Honesty

In “Good to Great” Jim Collins makes the argument that one of the key elements for sustainable success is the ability to honestly look the facts in the face and deal with them.

Dealing with the honest truth, he says, is possible because of an important underlying belief that we are resilient enough. Resilient enough to recover and overcome from anything life presents to us.

Very few of us are comfortable enough to do this. It is easier to be in denial, to be selective in our awareness. Easier to shift the blame and stubbornly believe that an external power is the source of our situation.

It is hard to be honest to yourself about yourself and it is uncomfortable to be vulnerable in your own presence.

The times I could muster enough courage to shyly look myself in the eye it felt like I was cutting a piece of myself off myself.  The act of honestly accepting the responsibility for myself and my actions (or lack of them) in certain situations in my life made me free and strong. But it sure as hell went down with a lot of gag reflexes.

Now I seem to be standing in front of another mirror. Remembering the uncertainty and dent in my self confidence as well as the powerful liberation and release of inner strength, I tentatively shuffle nearer …

With honesty