Discipline: A Man’s Guide for Success


A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. -Proverbs 25:28 ESV

I used to not know the power of discipline.

I remember the weekend when I was told to get my life together. The following Monday I was to enlist in the Royal Australian Navy. I thought I dressed ok, spoke well, and walked with integrity at every moment. From my perspective I thought I had it all together. However, after only one day of entering the recruit school, I saw everything from a different view. We were told that we would learn to iron uniforms, wash, and dress ourselves correctly. We would begin to walk, talk, and speak differently. We were told that our shoes would be polished so hard that our instructors would be able to see a better reflection on them than the faces that stared him in the face.

At that moment my pride, my ego and my head screamed to get out of there. However, what came next was a life changing moment.

Over the coming weeks my recruit school class, Otama, slowly broke down our barriers, and we all began to grow as one. “One in, all in” became our mantra. If one crease was out on any shirt, the whole lot of us went upstairs to re-iron our uniforms. If one thread was loose on our stitching, we all went and attended to the smallest issues. When it came to fitness, if one of us was in remedial class for being unfit (I was that one), the whole class gathered behind that person to inspire them to go further.

What happened over that brief period of 13 weeks was life changing. Through the rigor of 5am wake up calls for physical instruction, to the late night hours of exam studies, we became a unified class within a strong division. What was the thing that inspired us to push further than any other group? We worked harder than anyone, and pushed harder to work as one. What was the result? On the graduation day the Otama class received the class of the intake. What was the key?

We knew the power of self-discipline.

So often, discipline arouses a negative connotation in the mind. More often than not, our human will and emotion likes to walk in the opposite direction. From the early stages of childhood, every little boy sees a rule as something to be broken. During teenage years, every hot blooded young male sees boundaries to be crossed. Through young adult years, a man looks at government and people in control and begins to develop opinions about how things could be done better.

Men naturally love to break free from the idea of discipline or rule.

But what if discipline was so much more than that? I was at the University of Oxford last month attending a conference. One of the lecturers brought up this idea of discipline. He quoted from the dictionary then paraphrased it to a circular view of work that discipline gives.

He said discipline is:

  1. Training: to act in accordance with rules, drill, military discipline through instruction and exercise.”

  2. “Exercise: an activity or a regimen that develops or improves a man’s character.”

  3. “Character: a conduct and rule for the man that is given by correction in order to maintain good discipline in life and creed.”

  4. “Creed: A set of words, codes, or a statement that brings vision, clarity, and a state of stability through training.”

When we look at discipline or self-control from this perspective, it is something that is good for the heart of every man. Discipline is a driving force and tool that can help every man achieve great things from small circumstances.

Ayrton Senna

When I was growing up, one of my favorite sports stars to watch was the late Formula One racing legend Ayrton Senna. Although he was a man that achieved so much acclaim on the track, it was off the track he gained my loyalty for standing on the convictions of his faith and legacy. In 1993, I remember watching his final career win that took place in Australia. He came to finish the Adelaide circuit and take pole position. It was afterward that he literally became speechless with what he achieved. The only words that could summarize that race for many came from the iconic song that Tina Turner sung afterward. She belted out, “Simply the Best.” In hindsight, Ayrton accomplished so much before his tragic end, but his mastery over that adrenaline pumping sport gave me a huge respect for him. Ayrton later went on the books saying,

I have no idols, I admire work, dedication and competence.

For me these three things are the key ingredients for men if they want to succeed in every area of life. Discipline can come only by hard work, faithful dedication, and competence to get the job done.

What about you? Is there a key area in your life that you know you need to change? Do you need to improve your health and fitness?

Get into a beginners group in a gym.

Do you need to work on your friendships and relationships with others?

Intentionally take time off each week to talk.

Do you need to work on your career?

Ask your boss to sit down with you and work out a development plan so that you have some personal goals to work toward.

Each one of us has at least one area we could work on. Or, maybe you could be that friend that inspires others to be accountable with their goals. Who knows what you could achieve?

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