When you hear the word ‘Discipline’ what kind of feeling does it stir in you? In me, it throws up fear!! Is it because as a child, if someone is disciplining us it’s usually not a happy feeling? Also it seems to be far from a Childs true nature, it’s a more… adult characteristic.

If I had to give a body to this word…it would be tall, firm, stern looking but very strong. I have often wondered about this term and played with it in my head. I am curious about it. The head of course deems it ‘Right’ but the heart ‘tough/borderline boring’. The stern looking part is what I have a problem with, why does discipline not smile or laugh?

It is for sure RIGHT, because it does serve us well. We all know the advantage of Discipline in

  • keeping time
  • • following processes
  • • meeting deadlines
  • • managing health
  • • even managing emotions

Yet instilling discipline in our children and managing discipline of our younger (in some cases older) fellow colleagues at work seems to be an unpleasant task. It is a task that can bring out the worst in us. It is filled with emotions of frustration and aggression. The voice in the head says “Why can’t they just get it”? The role here is that of an authority figure.

However, when we are trying to discipline ourselves, the story can be very different. The script can go anything like “Is this really important”? “Life is too short” “Tomorrow is a great day to start” “Discipline and creativity don’t work well together” I think the word discipline brings out the rebel in us or sometimes even the victim.

I am beginning to realise that the word Discipline can be replaced. I want to take away the feeling of fear, aggression, punishment, failure from it.
What if we replaced it with COMMITMENT? Does it become more acceptable to us? To me it does! I don’t want to be a disciplined human being, neither do I want to raise one nor do I want to work with one (Has a robotic feeling to it). I want to be a person who can keep commitments to self and others. We all also want to work and perform in an environment where people uphold their commitments. Yes, that’s the kind of children I want to raise, those who value commitments- their own and those made to others.

The next question quite obviously is where does commitment come from? Are we born that way or can we actually learn commitment? I believe if we have experienced commitment in our early years, there are higher chances that we will be able to do the same. Similarly, in our early years at work if we experienced committed leaders and co-workers, we would have a better sense of what being a committed team member means. This is only awareness though. Consistently setting small goals and following through is a way to becoming more committed. If you struggle…. a parent, a leader or a coach can always help you get there. Celebrating incremental progress is a key component. Commitment is after all an intention, fuelled with focus and action.
I feel more relieved now.

By using COMMITMENT as a replacement to discipline, I can now actually visualize a tall, strong, focused, firm but gentle person. Is discipline finally smiling under the shadow of commitment?