Friday, October 4, 2013
The Importance of Discipline
Many young people ask me about what they should do for a career. Like many, I always used to say spend your 20’s testing a few things and when you find something that you love, stick with it. If you love what you are doing, it will not seem like work much of the time. Poet Robert Frost put is beautifully when he wrote, “my goal is to link my avocation with my vocation.”
As time as passed, I have realized that you need more than just love of your field. What you also need is discipline, sometimes great discipline. Many of the people who have impressed me the most over the years were not the flashy types. They were people who came in and quietly and doggedly pursued their jobs every day. Complaining was rare and they simply kept going and kept learning. Over time, they tended to get the recognition that they deserved.
This past year a student asked me at the end of a class for suggestions to get ready for a business career. I recommended that she read The Wall Street Journal every day. Some of it would be confusing at first but over time a lot would sink in. Soon you would be the best informed person in your office and become the “go to” person on many issues. She nodded and agreed to give it a try. As I looked around the room students were smiling at each other and some laughing. I asked “why pursue a business career and ignore the bible of American business.” No one replied and I received a few nervous stares. As the class broke up, I was gathering my lecture notes and erasing the blackboard (yes, I still write things on the board). I overheard two guys talking in a stage whisper. A direct quote is “Cole is an idiot. Why should anyone read The Wall Street Journal?”
Well. Perhaps I am an idiot. I am willing to bet serious money, however, that neither of two young vulgarians will ever reach the corner office. In a competitive marketplace and, an increasingly global one, the informed and well read executive is going to stand out from the crowd. So, if you have the discipline to keep working away at your knowledge of the marketplace in general and your field in particular you should do quite well especially when many of your co-workers will not.
Many young students today work out regularly. They look great. Some cut classes on occasion rather than miss their daily regimen at the gym. What they are forgetting is that their mind needs to be developed as well. Those who have the discipline to pursue their career day in and day out will be rewarded, big time.
If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org