Two-Time USA Memory Champion; memory training expert and memory keynote Ron White shares lessons from TC Cummings’ Mind of a Navy SEAL program:

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn (American speaker and author)

My friend and mentor, former Navy SEAL T.C. Cummings, has a great definition for discipline – “It’s what drives our actions when we lack motivation.” When we don’t seem to be able to muster up that internal push to keep us going forward, we rely on discipline to drive us.

What does this mean? A good example would be: It’s a bright, sunny morning and you would like to sleep in and then take off and go to the beach.  You may not be motivated to go to work, but you know that if you don’t you won’t be ready for that big presentation next week that could land you a promotion. Without discipline, you would go to the beach.

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” – Zig Ziglar

In our Mind of a Seal workshop, T.C. Cummings teaches us what the U.S. Navy SEAL motto:  “The only easy day was yesterday” really means, and how we can utilize it in our daily lives.   

For Navy SEALS, the first step to being admitted to the elite unit is to undergo BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL) training, which consists of 27 weeks of intensive training. Those who are not able to withstand the physical and mental rigors of the training must ring a bell and they will be released from the program. Around 80% of the men first admitted to the BUDS program ring the bell.

It doesn’t matter that many of these men dreamed about becoming a Navy SEAL their entire life, they lacked the discipline to push their bodies beyond what normal men could do, not understanding that your body does what your mind tells it to do, and can overcome amazing pain. SEAL training is 80% mental!

In order to become a more effective leader, in all aspects of your life, you have to learn to push yourself beyond your boundaries, and that requires sacrifice, setting higher standards, and a great amount of mental discipline. You are the one who limits yourself, and by meeting your goals, and then setting new ones, you will become more confident, more effective, and have a stronger attitude in order to manage and lead others. Without your discipline you can’t expect others around you to be disciplined either.

Consider self-discipline to be a form of training to develop new habits through action and the resetting of goals.  With discipline you will be able to become more efficient and make better use of your time (a disciplined person is not a procrastinator), thereby freeing yourself up to see new challenges to tackle.

If you don’t constantly challenge yourself to push yourself you will remain stagnant, and your life will become boring. You know how it feels when you do the same thing day after day; soon it becomes monotonous and boring. As in all aspects of your life, if you allow it to become stagnant you will not only move ahead, but by and by you will start to lose things – your confidence, your feeling of self-worth and accomplishment, and these could lead to the loss of other things – your job, your marriage, your dreams.

Set your goals, when you attain them set another. Look for challenges to keep yourself motivated, and don’t get content with the same old, same old. You will find that by practicing discipline you will become a better person, and a better leader – and be more successful in all aspects of your life.

Strive to utilize the examples set forth in TC Cummings’ “Mind of a SEAL” series. They will make you a better and stronger person because they are basic concepts that are applied to make ordinary men – extraordinary, and they can do the same for you.