Have you ever wondered how some people get so many things done? They set goals and then achieve them, come what may. Well, you're in luck! In today's post, I'm going to shed insight into the neuropsychology of self discipline.
This insight is based on research conducted by Steve DeVore and Dr. Karl Pribram at the Stanford University Neuropsychological Research Laboratories. They studied over 100 of history's greatest achievers and identified the characteristics they had in common.
All the characteristics revolved around self-discipline.
I call this self-leadership.
Here are 5 key traits.
Trait #1 Have a Sense of Purpose
History's successful achievers had an overarching purpose in their life. They knew how they wanted to be remembered. They had a big goal they wanted to achieve and broke that goal down into smaller pieces. That big goal was their motivation. It was what kept their fire burning. The smaller goals allowed them to direct that passion into action.
If it was 100 years from now and students were learning about you in history class, what would you want to be remembered for? Take time to think about what legacy you want to leave. Write the encyclopedia entry for your life.
Don't think just in term of material accomplishments such as income or net worth. What kind of family life did you have? What kind of a person were you? What was your faith life like? How generous were you?
If it is hard to think of one purpose, the authors recommend that identify 5 things you want to accomplish. For each thing, imagine you have just accomplished it and you're telling your friend about it. What would you say? How would you feel? Do this for each of the 5 things. Now, which one did you feel most enthused by? Select that one as your purpose.
Trait #2 Learn From a Mentor
Who has accomplished what you want to accomplish? Identify those people, study them, and learn from them. This is the best type of short-cut; one that won't leave you cutting edges. You can get first-hand information on what mistakes to avoid and what best-practice to implement.
You can learn from mentors directly or indirectly. You can purchase their books, listen to their speeches or podcasts, or read about them. An entire world is available at our fingertips. Knowledge has never been more accessible in history as it is now for us.
The best way, though, is to interact directly with them. Perhaps you can work for them. As you interact with them, consider these questions:
How did your mentor develop their knowledge?
How many hours did they work to achieve it?
How do they handle stress?
How do they prioritize?
What mistakes did they make?
All these things can be learned best when you interact directly with them. This direct interaction demystifies the "idols" that we often create out of our mentors. By seeing them in a realistic light, you can see that anyone truly can succeed.
Trait #3 Create Sensory Goals
History's high achievers weren't the type to write goals down and leave them as abstract points. No, they got up close and personal with their goals. That means they got all 5 of their senses involved.
Take a look at your goals. What will it look like when you achieve them? If your goal is to have a beautiful family, what clothes will you be wearing around Thanksgiving dinner? What delicious aromas will be wafting in the air? What will it physically feel like to hug your family and kiss your child's hair? How will their laughter sound like to your ear? Create that movie in your head and replay it over and over again.
When you get all your senses involved, you're getting universal buy-in from yourself. The more intense your vision is, the more impact it has. The more "all-in" you are. And when the going gets tough, the easier it will be to stay the course.
The authors recommend that you record your vision on tape. Play this tape every morning and night. The repetition will drive it into your memory. When your goals change, create a new recording and repeat the process.
Trait #4 Be Willing to Sacrifice for Self-Education
History's high achievers were willing to sacrifice for their goals. They were on the lookout for what abilities or skills they would need to learn in order to succeed. Once they identified that, they were willing to sacrifice in order to learn them. That meant they spent time learning. They spent time perfecting their craft. They were willing to work while others were resting.
What skills do you need to obtain? Perhaps you need to learn a new language or learn to code. Are you willing to give up your TV time in order to learn? Perhaps you need to save money to invest in a mentorship program. Are you willing to give up a few weekend night outs in order to save that money?
My first business was flipping real estate contracts. My business partners and I would spend our Friday nights putting up our signs, and Sunday nights taking them down. We were in our 20's. We saw our peers hanging out and partying. We chose to be disciplined because we had a bigger goal in mind.
What are you willing to sacrifice in order to obtain the skills you need for your goals?
Trait #5 Love Your Work
Lastly, history's high achievers enjoyed to work. They viewed the work as a process. They received satisfaction knowing they were making progress towards their goals. Some of them loved the work itself. They got lost in the task.
You likely won't love every single aspect of what you do. As a leadership trainer, I love when I am actually doing my "work". I love working with clients or leading workshops. I don't always enjoy the book-keeping and the social media scheduling. However, I know that in order for my business to operate, these are necessary tasks. When I engage in them, I replay the moments of me leading the workshops in order to evoke that happy, on purpose feeling.
What is your attitude towards work? Is it something you HAVE to do, or something you GET to do? Do you give up easily when things get hard or don't go your way? Or are you able to find ways to enjoy your work?
Self-discipline is the glue that keeps all other traits together. Without it, there is no follow-through. You become a fair-weather fan of yourself and your goals.
That is why I created the Be A Self Leader program. The program helps you gain Clarity where there was once confusion, Confidence where there was once doubt, and Consistency where there was capriciousness. All of them work together to get you achieving your goals.
Are you ready to Be a Self Leader?