Discipline [4/7]

This fourth virtue is represented as the wire cable covering the sumo’s crotch. Weird, I know.

I think this ties in with Kaizen in some way. Discipline is really just another word for consistent effort. Having discipline allows you to keep track of the important things and stay away from procrastination.

This is very difficult for me. On the outset, people might think that I had my life in control. I seemed to have done a lot of activities such as taking riding lessons, piano lessons, and dance classes whilst maintaining straight-As record at school, and subsequently went on to do A Levels and secured a place at a top 5 university in the UK.

Little did people know that my spirit was waning towards the end of high school. Sure I did those activities, but I did not continue on to higher levels of training. The only thing I could maintain was mediocrity. In terms of grades, I suppose my early interest in reading and learning, the original excitement of gaining knowledge felt when I was younger, helped in a way. That and the fact that the national curriculum was not that challenging. It was mostly rote-learning and I did not have to deal with thinking out of the box, which I discovered was a problem.

Because of the unchallenging environment I was in, plus other factors such as gradual depression and lack of a strong support system, I was comfortable enough to live in the mundane cycle that had no need for real discipline. All I had to do was to follow the school timetable and do the homework. None of them engaged my mind so critically and so my mind was led to a narrowed way of thinking.

That is why I began to sink when doing A Levels. You can say it was an education shock for me, getting out of the chlorinated pool that was the country’s education system to only dive into the deep salty sea that was the UK education system. I felt that the latter required a lot of effort from me, which I was quite unable to give. I had no system of my own so I could barely swim ashore to save my life.

This was reflected on my grades. They weren’t straight A’s nor were there any A*’s. Here’s a secret: I did not achieve the requirement of the university, yet somehow I was given a chance to redeem myself. I suppose my personal statement helped and I should have taken that as a sign of my writing prowess. But no, I was too proud and so I turned a blind eye.

The excitement was short-lived and guilt mounted inside me. I still did not have my own system of doing things and I still struggled with conversations. I did not have the discipline that would otherwise improve the skills needed to thrive e.g. communication and critical thinking. So of course I felt guilty. Fate gave me the chance to redeem myself despite my mediocre A Levels and yet I was throwing it all away. I appreciated the opportunity, but I did not show it.

So once I have mastered my mind and discovered my purpose, I knew I needed to be disciplined not for the sake of others, but for myself. Without that first two virtues, I wouldn’t have been able to learn the art of discipline by consistently performing small acts of courage i.e. the courage to pursue my passion and get out of my comfort pit.

Daily reminders are essential. Instead of absent-mindedly going about the day’s tasks, I now think about what I am doing and why I’m doing it nearly every hour. Basically I have created these two voices in my head: one that asks and one that answers. The pitiful voice like that of Moaning Myrtle constantly spewing malicious thoughts does not exist anymore—good riddance.

On top of it all, to give me the big push, I would conjure the vision of the outcome I would like to achieve especially when I feel like giving up. Just the thought of it makes me excited; I can’t imagine how I would feel if—when—it becomes reality.

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