Leadership Skills: Personal Discipline

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Planning is DisciplineKeeping on track with an action plan is the primary focus of this post. Being more productive means planning to be more productive. Studies by social psychologist from Germany, Wilhelm Hoffman, show that people with high self control are happier than those without. I suggest that happiness comes from a sense of fulfillment and completion because a person feels in control of his or her destiny.

Effective planning drives effective results. Planning is nothing without the personal discipline to implement the plan systematically. Creating this personal discipline does not happen overnight. Just like a skilled performer, musician or actor or athlete, personal discipline is a habit intentionally cultivated with daily practice. Rehearse for Excellence is my leadership principle that creates discipline with productive systems.

Here is my list of traps that are enemies of productivity:

  1. Perfection Paralysis – “I will act when…” is the mantra of the perfectionist and the fearful. Some of us are fearful of failing. Some of us are fearful of succeeding. Some of us are so focused on the details that we can’t see the big picture and therefore procrastinate to a point of failure. The old saying is so true, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Being not quite ready is a script that I’m overwriting with intention of action.
  2. Waiting for the Right Opportunity – “I’m ready to do something when the right opportunity appears” is the internal script of the low productivity leader. If we are waiting for someone to appear, what happens if that person doesn’t show up? In my life, waiting for the right opportunity means that I have not clearly defined my actions and time activated those actions.
  3. Not in the Mood – I understand that professional leaders do not always do the right thing. I also understand that effective leaders discipline their disappointment. Failure is a learning experience. Mood is a state of mind that we can control. I struggle with getting motivated to do the right thing at the right time. Working alone is a trap if leaders don’t establish external motivators such as accountability partners and timed events, in which reporting completed actions is the expectation. According to Napoleon Hill, all the leaders he interviewed maintained a positive mental attitude, which was a key component of their success. By the way, solopreneurs are not the only ones with this trap. The corporate CEO can create this  trap by being too busy.
  4. Distractions – Email, phone calls, text messages, family and colleagues are all additions to our lives that create value – or create distractions.  I struggle with this every day and must reset my boundary each and every day. F.O.C.U.S. means free of clutter and unnecessary stuff. It’s a tough battle, however, I’m winning!
  5. Lack of Daily and Weekly Plan – Getting up and developing a list of “To-Dos” for the day, is a disaster. I find if I wait for the morning to define my day…it’s likely to be over before I define my tasks.

Effective leaders are continuously working on self improvement and remaining transparent. Transparency is a primary leadership strength. In that light, I share with you my efforts to stay centered and to be disciplined to reach my goals. My personal discipline consists of the following:

  1. Claiming My Best – Perfection paralysis is caused by several factors, however I am convinced that it’s centered in insecurity. Nobody wants to fail. If a leader does nothing, then the idea is that there is no chance to fail. Not doing anything is, in fact, a form of failure. It’s failure to act. I know that I am not perfect, therefore, I take measures to build support for the areas I know are not my top skills. I surround myself with people who are experts in areas that complement my areas of strength, and skills that fill in my gaps in skills. I define the objective, and then begin at once to move forward. I keep planning, evaluating, revising, and recommitting.
  2. Creating the Opportunity – I consider myself a problem solver. I love to look at problems and create a solution that brings value to all concerned. Most of the time, the solution is a co-creation with key stakeholders. In my own businesses, the SynerVision® brands, my mind automatically goes to the problem and then goes backwards to define why the problem happened, and then to develop strategies of prevention, or to imagine a new paradigm for moving forward. Getting unstuck typically requires sharing the problem with a trusted colleague or advisor and opening my mind to ideas outside my “Box.”
  3. Empowering Intentional Daily Inspiration – Daily reading, writing etc….
  4. Eliminating Any Distractions – Email, phone, electronics, personal interruptions, familiar surroundings…
  5. Planning Ahead – I develop tomorrow’s plan at the end of each day. I call the daily plan Daily Valuable Deliverables (DVDs). These DVDs are baby steps related to my weekly action plan, which is under my monthly milestones, and is tied to my yearly objectives. Nothing goes on my action plan that doesn’t fit my year’s objectives and isn’t defined by my monthly milestones. Exception: I allow time in my schedule for “Sliding Priorities.” Sliding Priorities are those important things that I must do, however, I can’t predict exactly what they might be. They come from external sources such as clients, service providers, staff, or joint venture partners – I also allow for family interruptions that can’t be deferred.

Here’s the new script to repeat each day: “Succeeding is up to me.”


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM

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(c) 2015 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.
Hugh Ballou (Author)