Self-Discipline Precedes Self-Improvement

November 19, 2020 –

“In reading the lives of prominent men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first.” — Harry S. Truman

Before writing this story, I couldn’t tell you that there are over 1,100,000 English words, with a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day. This information helps me know that 3.6 new English words will be born when I finish this article.

I often think of my maternal Grandmother’s instructions when I asked her its meaning; her reply was always, “Look it up in the Dictionary.” This article is about self-discipline being the foundation for self-improvement. So, I began by looking up “self-discipline.” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines self-discipline as “Correction or regulation of oneself for improvement.” Roget’s offers “constraint, control, and discretion” as synonyms. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.”

If I had to pick a topic that interests me most, self-improvement might be it. Information regarding self-discipline might be the least of my interest. Even St. Paul lists self-control as one of the nine fruits of the Spirit.

Several dictionaries and two Thesaurus’ sit on my bookshelf. There’s always a definition to look up, or a synonym needed. Words make up a lot of my day. I try to choose the right word when I’m writing or speaking. Sometimes I fail, but I can’t blame it on a dictionary or Thesaurus. Self-discipline is the culprit. To use the “right” word takes self-discipline to search one of those dictionaries or Thesaurus.

People want success but are unwilling to discipline themselves; they, therefore, remain unsuccessful. The challenge for the talented and those with exceptional strength is to control and manage their assets.

Organizations with a challenging mission, exciting goals, focused strategy, and on-target tactics make a mistake in not leading and instilling in their employees the value of personal and corporate self-control. When people and organizations accept responsibility, good things happen, including success and profits.

We experience self-improvement because of self-discipline. But the real benefit is that in improving ourselves, we experience self-discovery and achieve self-knowledge. Theodore Roosevelt captures the essence of this article in his statement, “With self-discipline, most anything is possible.”