Personal Discipline – The Path to Personal Freedom and Success in Search

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Nov 1, 2011

Personal discipline. This is a daily challenge for me. We live in a world full of distractions, unhealthy choices, and pressure to do a myriad of things that are not in our true self-interest. Modern culture has created an increasingly noisy, busy, artificial, short-term focused, pleasure-seeking world. The human temptation to slip into the path of least resistance, to seek out safety and comfort, and to avoid risk and hard work is ever present.

I’m writing about this subject in relation to success in the search profession, as I believe that the ability to be incredibly self-disciplined is one of the most important requirements for success in this business. We all know that without doing “the work,” sustainable success as a recruiter will not happen. For the great majority of us, our work is done alone, either as solo practitioners, or in offices or cubicles, as part of a search firm. We each decide, in the “privacy of our own privacy,” what we will do with the hours we are blessed with each day.

Recruiting success, simply put, requires excellent productivity. Since our work as recruiters is primarily made up of our personal actions (phone calls, emails, meetings, letters, research, writing, listening, etc.), the productivity that I am talking about is “personal productivity,” as opposed to equipment, office, or other measures. Sustained personal productivity, or the amount of value-added work done per personal unit of time, over the long run, is one of the most significant indicators or predictors of success in this great business.

I want to be a big biller. I admire the big billers who, year-over-year, crush it in this business. I’m a student of their success, and am interested in learning as much as I can about how they approach their work. I imagine that you are as well.

As I’ve studied big billers in this business, I’ve noticed something that is very simple yet profound. It is this: big billers are the ones who get the most amount of value-added work done each and every day. Big billers are the ones who plan their days, and execute their plans. Big billers know their business, know their strengths, know and avoid their weaknesses, study the market, and stay very active in their niche. Big billers are serious about their profession, and work hard, relentlessly hard, to be excellent in their delivery and to continuously improve. Big billers are, simply put, exceptionally well disciplined.

The term “personal discipline” does not only apply to discipline at work. It applies to discipline in all areas of life. I believe that a successful life is one that is both “balanced” and “growing.” It takes discipline to take the time to assess one’s life from a balance perspective, and it takes discipline (and honesty) to identify weak areas and put in place plans to improve.

For me, I assess my life-balance on the following six criteria:

  • Spiritual Health
  • Physical Health
  • Relationships
  • Emotional Health
  • Intellectual Growth
  • FinancialHealth

I strive first for balance in each of these areas, and then for continuous growth. I believe that balance in all areas will naturally lead to excellence in each area. A life that is out of balance will eventually crash. I’m on this journey for the long run, and wish to enjoy it as much as I can. For this reason, a balanced approach is the best approach. I don’t want to make a bunch of money while losing my health. I don’t want to work so hard that I lose my spiritual connection and perspective. I don’t want to drive for success and run over people along the way. What I do want to be is spiritually, physically, relationally, emotionally, intellectually and financially healthy and successful, all at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, our modern world does not make this easy. Personal discipline is the only way to overcome the distractions, pressure, and tendencies to veer off course. The big billers that I know are also very well disciplined, work for a life well balanced, and also aim for life-long growth.

There are several techniques that I have developed which help me in my efforts to maintain a high degree of personal discipline. Here are some that I can recommend to you.

  • Set your personal goals, and write them down. These should be goals in each of your areas of life. On the business / financial goals, go into detail about the amount of money that you want to make, by when, and then work backwards into the details of the daily activities required to achieve your goals. Be very specific.
  • Share your goals with an accountability partner and review your progress on a regular basis.
  • If you have health-related concerns, address these immediately. Don’t delay. This includes energy level, weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure, depression, addictions, or general bad habits. Personal discipline starts with personal honesty. If you have physical health issues that need to be addressed, then address them. If you need to exercise more, then do it. If you need to eat a healthier diet, then do it. If you need to get a physical exam, then do it. What are you waiting for? Put the odds in your favor, and be as healthy as you can be.
  • Surround yourself with healthy people who also are balanced and display great personal discipline. This will rub off and be encouraging.
  • Turn off the television. There is very little on TV that will add to your life.
  • Become an avid reader of good books. I like to always have a book to read that has something to do with emotional health or encouragement. Also, read about great people. This will be fuel for your own greatness.
  • Adopt a positive attitude. Happy people are healthier and more successful.
  • Plan your work for the following day before you go home each day. Write it down. When you come to work the next day, finish your plan, and then plan tomorrow’s work.
  • Hire administrative help to do administrative work. Be selfish about what you work on, and only work on things that will advance your practice. Do not “major on minors.” Time is all you have, and you must maximize each minute.
  • Change your habits. Identify two bad habits that you want to change. Make small steps each day to change these. Identify two good habits that you want to create. Make small steps each day to create these. Create a morning routine that is positive and intentional to lead to your success. Follow the same routine every day.
  • Get a coach. All pros have a coach. If you want to be a pro in this business, then pay for and follow the advice of your coach.

These are a few ways to help you improve upon your personal discipline. The great thing about improving discipline, and in turn improving productivity, is that the business or personal goals will start to happen. With this, you will find yourself in more control of your life, being happier, healthier, and more successful, and in turn, having the time and resources to do other things that you desire. This is ultimately where the phrase “Personal Discipline Leads to Personal Freedom” comes to light.

Set goals, write them down, be honest with yourself, be determined, stick to your plan, improve every day, and eventually you will succeed. It’s guaranteed.

image source: R.K. Richardson

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