A few years back, I spoke to a new group of middle schoolers on the first day of school and shared with them a message about discipline.
I remember walking into the room with a seriousness in my gait, and a purpose on my countenance. I announced to the group of adolescence with great drama that I was there to “Talk about Discipline”. It was my intention to show a theatrical sterness in large part to demystify my perceived role as disciplinarian.
As I garnered their collective attention, I proceeded to talk about the different meanings of the word discipline, depending on purpose.
We started with the one they expected that I was there to discuss- the verb. The action of disciplining someone for a behavior that is not acceptable. Of course, I only touched on this one briefly as I was there to inject optimism and excitement for the year, not to lecture on behavior.
Next I defined discipline as a noun- as in the various disciplines they would learn about, study, create for- and hopefully develop a passion for during their year. I allowed for many questions and comments about this form of the word.
Next, we discussed how it takes discipline to become an expert in a discipline. Both a nice epiphany and apropos segue into my central message.
Finally, we made the connection between the first two, and discussed the intangible of personal discipline. That we all have the ability to be disciplined in a way that we can channel energy, passion, and efforts in a focused process for the benefit of learning and growing represented a novel and compelling understanding of this word that had previously primarily conveyed a negative connotation.
Growth requires passion, effort, ability, and opportunity – no doubt. But ultimately, those who can add an unwavering discipline to the list stand the best chance of achieving and exceeding.