Why does “Discipline” have a negative connotation in our life ? If someone says discipline, we are reminded of our school principal with a cane in hand spanking a child. Or we think of the rigorous exercise our army personnel go through as they prepare themselves for the adversaries of a war.
I believe it has got to do with the way we have been brought up in life and imbibed our learnings from our elders. It could also be influenced by the culture of our surroundings. What is respected in the society we live and what is looked down upon.
Let us start from the time we get up in the morning. Many a time the conflict starts as to what time is the best time to get up from bed. If I have the habit of getting up at 6 am, I expect my kids to do the same. I further tell them about all the virtues of getting up early. How it gives me more time in the day and how the rays of the sun early morning may be beneficial and so on ? But, if my kids like to start their day late and do not enjoy going for a walk or jog, I consider it indiscipline in their life.
Then, if we move to study time. What is the best time to study ? I may have enjoyed studying early in the morning. If my kids want to study late into the midnight, I consider it lack of discipline. I have seen that each of us enjoy studying at different points of the day and night. Some enjoy getting up early while others love to burn the midnight oil. There could not be a best time for all. Each of us are different by nature and we have to respect our individuality. So, it may not be indiscipline to choose a different time but a choice based on personal preferences.
Similarly, at work, we may love to start our day early and finish early. Some like to start late and end late. In my view, it does not matter at all. But possibly the one thing which matters is that we do we give the full time expected of us at work and the full output. Many a time flexi time is taken as the liberty to come at any time in the morning but to leave on time in the evening. This is not discipline. Discipline has to be self discipline and not imposed discipline. How do we behave when nobody is watching us may be the litmus test ?
If I commit to deliver on a date, do I do so without reminders. Do I go for my morning exercise without my family cajoling me ? Do I gulp an ice cream every day when my wife is not seeing me in spite of being a diabetic and knowing its consequences on my health ? Do I call back someone whose call I missed while I was in a meeting or wait for them to call me back again ?
In my learning, discipline comes from within and not without. It is intrinsic and not extrinsic. Of course , all of us make mistakes and learn from them. It takes time and effort to be self disciplined. Some learn early in life and for some of us we take more time. As long as we realise that “discipline” is not external to me but internal and dependant on me rather than anyone else in my life, we have made it.
May be time to wake up and look at the mirror to define discipline for ourselves ?
S Ramesh Shankar