We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret and disappointment.
Pain and discipline often overlap but I’m a big fan of self-control so I am quite fond of that quote.
One thing I do not like, however, is the fact that many people seem to feel discipline should not be a cornerstone for progress in Botswana.
But hopefully that’s just because we are thinking of different things when we use the term.
Self-discipline is one thing while trying to impose discipline on others is something else.
The first type is the one I think everyone would be wise to develop.
When President Khama took office, discipline and the other Ds: dignity, development, democracy and delivery, received a great deal of positive press.
Over the years, however, some government attempts to dictate how we should behave and what we should drink have lead people to associate the term with violating individual rights.
Okay, that is a danger when discipline is imposed from above, but it in no way reduces the value of self-discipline. As a matter of fact, it might even increase it because our society would not be able to recognise any human rights at all if the citizens didn’t have some discipline of their own.
As I see it, discipline is the most important of the big Ds because we need it to develop our skills, but it is something each of us has to acquire for our self.
The question, though, is how can someone who doesn’t already have the quality develop it?
The answer to that one lies in another of the government’s favourite catch-words: vision.
If we want to be successful we have to identify what we want to do and the skills we will require; then we need to understand why developing self-discipline will help us achieve our goals.
That probably sounds like a lot of disciplined thinking, but no one said this was easy and somewhere along the line we have to take responsibility for ourselves.
If we can do those things, though, the desired results are likely to follow.
That’s because we get good at whatever it is we choose to do.
Some people spend a lot of time operating a TV remote, some post a lot of pictures on Facebook and others dedicate their time to mastering a musical instrument or learning a foreign language.
All those people will develop skills in their chosen fields but all skills are not equal.
Learning to play an instrument or speak a new language requires discipline and both can be used to improve our lives.
So developing self-discipline not only makes it less likely that we will be disciplined by someone else; it also makes it more likely we will have control over our own lives.
I quoted American entrepreneur Jim Rohn at the beginning of this piece and I’m going to close now by sharing something else he said:
If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.
And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.