SELF-DISCIPLINE

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Travel on the Inside First
(Numbers 33:1–49)

WE MUST travel on the inside before we can travel on the outside, because the journey of growth and success is first an internal one. The first person you lead is you—and you can’t lead effectively without self-discipline.

If only the Israelites had remembered this lesson! Numbers 33 provides a review of the entire exodus journey, from Egypt to Jordan. And, boy, was it ever a journey! Tons of manna. Far too much grumbling. And it lasted 40 years.

Why didn’t the Israelites get to the Promised Land more quickly? Not because it lay so far away; they could have made the trip in two weeks. The real reason boils down to preparation. The people simply weren’t ready for God’s blessing until 40 years after they began their trip.

How about you? How is your self-discipline? Plato said, “The first and best victory is to conquer self. ” If you want to be a leader with self-discipline, follow these action points:

1. Develop and follow your priorities. All leaders are pressed for time, but the successful ones have a plan. If you can determine what’s really a priority and release yourself from everything else, it will be much easier to follow through on what’s important. That’s the essence of self-discipline.

2. Make a disciplined lifestyle your goal. To be successful, self-discipline can’t be a one-time event. It has to become a lifestyle. One of the best ways to nurture such a lifestyle is to develop systems and routines, especially in areas crucial to your long-term growth and success. Once you have them, put them to use every day for the rest of your life.

3. Challenge your excuses. Challenge and eliminate any tendency you may have to make excuses. If you can name several reasons why you can’t be self-disciplined, realize that they are really just barriers to your success—all of which need to be challenged if you want to go to the next level.

4. Remove rewards until you finish the job. If you lack self-discipline, you may be in the habit of enjoying dessert before eating your vegetables. Mike Delaney offered good counsel: He said that businesses need to differentiate between their shirkers and their workers, because if they reward both the same, they’ll soon find they have a lot more of the former than the latter!

5. Stay focused on results. Anytime you concentrate on the difficulty of the work instead of its results, you’re likely to become discouraged. The next time you’re facing a must-do task and you’re thinking of doing what’s convenient instead of paying the price, change your focus. Count the benefits of doing what’s right, and then dive in.

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