Tag Archives: self reflection

The Easy Slide From Discipline

While it may not carry with it the same level of warm-fuzzies as America, motherhood and apple pie, it’s pretty hard to argue that discipline isn’t something just about universally celebrated as a good thing to pursue.  The ability to stick with something you commit to, even when things get hard, inconvenient or lonely, is one of those generally accepted positives.  And I think it does deserve that kind of placement in the pantheon of virtues (which now makes me think I need a blog post about a pantheon of virtues).

What’s funny about discipline is how easy it is to get completely wrong.  I say this from very personal experience and I’ve seen it on more than a few occasions in others.

“Hey Kev, you remarkably handsome and dapper son-of-a-gun, how does some get discipline wrong? And how can YOU, of all people, get it wrong?” is what you must be thinking.  I can feel it.  That exact quote of amazement.  I’m good at this stuff.

Glad you (well maybe I) asked.

This is how: when discipline morphs into self-bashing and, at least for me, that transition occurs a little too seamlessly at times.

Not having great focus during a lifting session could be “Not great tonight, but tomorrow get back at it. Maybe get up early to see what you can do.” vs. “What the f**k was that?  You aren’t going to get better mailing it in like that? Seriously, stop screwing around and acting like a jackass.  Do better.”

Trying to lose weight and caving in with an oversized dinner when out with friends could be “Well, not ideal… but that’s just one meal. Get back to the plan tomorrow.” vs. “Great going, champ.  All this progress totally blown.  Typical.  This is why you aren’t doing any better and this is why you keep screwing these things up.”

These aren’t the exact things I am saying to myself (well, maybe the lifting part), but I think it’s representative of how we can shoot for tough-minded discipline and miss the mark by going with “I am going to utterly kick the bejeezus out of myself to fix things.”

Discipline is great and necessitates a toughness towards yourself in order to fully express itself.  You will be forgoing ease and comfort in the pursuit of true discipline.  You will have struggles and moments of doubt as you push through.  You need to persist.

But when you inevitably stumble…because we all stumble… you need to tune in to how you react to that. Tough mixed with positive is doable and you probably need to catch yourself to make it happen. God knows I do.  Because discipline at the expense of your self-worth is a trade-off without much long term merit.

Self-kindness isn’t weakness, my friends.  It may be the best strength you have.

The Art of the Extra Minute

If there’s something I’ve learned in my time working in Corporate America or in coaching wild little weasels in youth baseball, it’s that the people in charge can often lose sight of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their leadership or guidance.  It’s really not all that surprising because most people don’t spend oodles of time in their days considering how others perceive them.  This is partly because… well… who the hell would spend that much time obsessed on such a point?  In addition, no one should be so purely “other-focused” that they never account for their own personal tastes, talents and desires.

That being said, there is a tremendous amount of value to be gained for anyone who is a manager, leader or coach to consider how their leadership is delivered and received.

A leader may have a weekly staff meeting with her team where she feels completely at ease, free to have an open discussion.  However, does the team feel the same way?  Maybe, maybe not.  One leader’s place of restful sanctuary is another team member’s “More face time with the boss where I have to play the part…”

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As a baseball coach, I try to think about things from the kid’s perspective as best I can… and Lord knows I probably fail at this much more often than I succeed, but I think the effort is the big part.

It’s the art of taking the extra minute.  That extra minute to think about your methods in relation to your players is hugely helpful.

For me it’s been about thinking about myself as a Little Leaguer.  I was seldom a confident player back in those days – far more concerned with messing up than playing well.  Hell, I can remember playing a game as it was getting dark, rain was coming down and I was hoping the pitcher, TJ, would strike me out.  True story.

Hence, my extra minute is to remember that there are a lot of kids who aren’t naturally gifted athletes and for whom standing all by themselves at the plate with everyone watching them at a baseball game is a daunting experience.  Kids for whom their coach looking them in the eye and saying, “Hey, you just go up there and go for it. All I care is about you trying hard – that’s it.” might be the difference between them enjoying the game and not.  Or the coach letting them know that making an error or messing up or doing something “wrong” because they tried too hard is totally OK.  Sure, you try to have them learn from that moment, but you can’t just light them up or else they’ll shut down for good.

And even if you don’t coach youth baseball, these same lessons apply at work, in your church, with your charitable group, etc.  Your presence and position will affect those around you in ways you likely don’t notice or think to consider.

And all you need to do is develop the art of taking that extra minute.  It won’t fix everything, but the self-awareness it brings is certainly the most important first step of them all.