RAF CROUGHTON, England --
When you ask 10 people to define discipline, you might get 10 different answers. Often you hear people saying they are motivated to do something. Ultimately, someone could be motivated one day but then something more desirable comes along and the motivation could shift. Discipline, however, will override motivation.
Growing up in Miami, Florida, in a single-parent household, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. He instilled consistency in my behavior and required discipline in my actions. I did not realize why he would put so much attention to detail in how I did my chores, or why he performed his tasks with such precision. He was essentially preparing me to have a disciplined mind.
Self-discipline takes hard work and commitment to reach goals, objectives or desired end states. Have I always had this outlook of discipline over motivation? The answer is no… As a young Airman, I recall being motivated to perform a certain way, but if the “reward” was not to my liking then my motivation would change or shift. I am here to let you know discipline from the start is a reward… A reward of freedom and the ultimate stress relief.
Be disciplined in how you carry yourself on and off duty. Perform duty-related tasks appropriately and take care of personal responsibilities. So that, when your phone rings and the caller ID says it is your supervisor, first sergeant or commander, you will pick up without hesitation. When you are undisciplined and you cut corners personally or professionally, you are always worried that call is related to that area where you have been underperforming.
Be a consistent Airman. I like to relate that consistency to basketball. Work on your dribbling with both hands, free throws and your layups so you are “brilliant at the basics.” Be a player (Airman) that averages 19 points per game, 10 rebounds and 10 assists instead of the player (Airman) that can score 30 points once every 10 games and underperforms more often than not. When you are disciplined enough to perfect the basics, you become a player (Airman) the Coaches (your leadership) can game plan around to help the team’s strategy for success.
When asked what my leadership principles are, the very first is discipline, followed by accountability, proactivity and professionalism (DAPP). You have to be disciplined in order to hold yourself or others accountable appropriately. You have to be disciplined to be proactive and assess people and the mission on a consistent basis in an effort to improve effectiveness. And, you have to be disciplined to be a professional in and out of uniform, on or off base, present for duty or on leave. If you have been struggling, take a step back and do an honest self-assessment, then establish the discipline you need and it will carry you to your goals long after motivation has left…