Here is Part 4 of my five-part “Unleash Your Potential” blog series. If you missed Part 3, click here. The pitcher stands alone on the mound, peering in at his catcher’s signals before delivering the pitch. The ball sails across the plate, just missing the outside corner. Ball four. The batter trots to first base. The pitcher wipes the sweat from his brow, walks deliberately to the back of the mound and grabs the rosin bag before returning to face the next batter. He approaches it as if it were the first pitch of the game.
She tosses the ball high and slams a serve over the net, but it skids wildly away from the line—a double fault. She puts the racquet in her opposite hand, takes a deep breath and nods at the ball boy. She selects the ball and this time she nails it, an ace down the center of the court that catches her opponent off guard. What trait do both of these athletes exemplify? Discipline.
It’s the mental discipline that make these athletes successful on top of all the physical discipline that you must have to get to a competitive level. I’m on a flight writing this blog, and I ask my 10-year-old daughter, “What is discipline?” I’m curious what she will say. “It means to prove that you can do something that you thought you couldn’t do but you actually can,” she says matter-of-factly. ‘Mental discipline,’ I think to myself. I’m glad she thinks of it this way and doesn’t tell me discipline is something her parents do to her as punishment. Of course any parent will tell you, that’s part of instilling discipline, but as we get older, we learn that we have to be disciplined for ourselves.
There’s a great John Wooden quote, “Discipline yourself and others won’t need to.” The best athletes in the world face adversity. Sometimes we think athletes must be superhuman. They must be so confident that they never doubt themselves and certainly they must never fail. In reality, the most successful performers experience challenges too, but they are disciplined in how they respond to them. They don’t allow adversity to consume them; instead they embrace it as a challenge. They create routines that help them re-center and remain focused when otherwise they might start to slip. They root themselves in preparation and trust in their work when the game is on the line.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Recovery from adversity takes discipline. So the next time you think of discipline, think of it as being intentional in all areas of your life. Just like you have to have the discipline to go work out every day, you also have to practice in order to become mentally disciplined. When you become disciplined in the ways you think, it eventually becomes habit.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company offers training and coaching programs to help leaders unleash their potential, including: Game Changer Negotiation Training, which teaches business people a framework for successful negotiating; The Energized Leader training, which teaches people how to manage their energy to achieve focus and freedom; and a monthly coaching program, Game Changer Leadership Huddles, to help members recharge their purpose and mindset. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.