By Bev James, CEO Of The Academy Group

Leaders aren't born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
~Vince Lombardi

I spend much of my professional life coaching and mentoring business owners and athletes who are at the top of their game and who want to get even better; so I am often asked, What do high achievers do that the rest of us don’t? What is the secret of their success?” I have considered this many times.

For many, goal-setting and planning are keys to success; others are driven forward by the sheer power of self-belief or positive thinking. I am a great believer in all of those things. But you can plan, dream, create and think positively all you want and still not make your business a success. In my experience, the core trait that sets successful people apart in every field of endeavour — is self-discipline.

Self-discipline creates self-reliance, which feeds self-confidence. If you know you can rely on yourself to deliver results, you are more likely to aim high in your ambitions and attract like-minded people to do business with you and to work with you.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit."

How many times on average does someone attempt a goal before giving up? Would you guess 1, 2 or 3? The real answer is less than one — because many people give up before they even try. How many times have you heard someone say, “There is no point in me doing that now, because …” or “I was going to do that, but …” or “I ran out of time to …”

Without self discipline, it is easy to lose focus or become distracted from your goal. Self-discipline makes the difference between achieving your goal and seeing it gradually fade away.

Knowing that you are in control ensures you remain in the driver’s seat, leading the action, rather than reacting to others' demands. If you know what you are doing, and when and why you are doing it, you will be less likely to get taken off track. A self-disciplined approach to life enables your auto-pilot to take over on those occasions when the going gets tough. It turns thinking into doing, even when you’d rather be doing something else. The better you perform, the more confidence you will develop to deliver ever-more successful results.

Do it! — Know why you are doing it. Self-disciplined people have a long-term plan that sets out their goals and ambitions, supported by a short-term plan in the form of a daily 'Do It!' list. If you create a plan and stick to it, you will achieve more, more efficiently, in each working day.

Do it! — Start doing things differently. As the saying goes, “Keep doing what you are doing and you will keep getting what you’ve got.” Become watchful and aware of the diversionary tactics you may use to avoid doing essential tasks. Be honest with yourself — what are your distracters? Ask yourself, “What changes in my own approach will make the most difference to my success?” And then choose to do things differently.

Do it! — Practice building your self-discipline muscle, daily. Self-discipline is easier to maintain when it becomes a habit. Watch your attitude to food, exercise, TV, social media, the Internet, and so on. Are small indulgences preventing you from achieving a greater goal? Achieving change in is all about managing desire, not denial.

Do it! — Watch your health. A lack of self-discipline or a sense of disappointment may have an impact on other areas of your life too. If you are unhappy with your weight or your levels of fitness, commit to an exercise regime — or find a personal trainer. A disciplined approach to maintaining your health will raise your self-confidence and sharpen your mind.

Do it! — Plan ahead, to be on time. Are you the kind of person who is punctual, who is always on time for appointments? Or are you habitually late? If you have trouble with time management, double your planning time and set your watch 15 minutes fast. Get together everything you need in advance. Plan your route. Leave nothing to chance on the day. Successful people are time-sharp. They schedule their days (or get someone else to manage their schedule for them). They put in the hours they need, to achieve the outcome they want. They respect the value of their own time.

Do it! — Start saving instead of spending. Your attitude to money says a lot about your attitude to success. Do you spend first and worry about the money afterwards, or do you always save up for what you want? Those who develop self-discipline put the needs of the goal ahead of immediate gratification.

Do it! — Just do it! An Olympic athlete will never win a gold medal if he or she decides they don’t feel like training today. In those moments when you stop for a moment to question whether you want to do something, you undermine your will to succeed. A self-disciplined person is more likely to just get on with it!

Ditch it! — Don’t delay. Start today. By matching your desires to the actions you need to take to make your dream a reality, you can free yourself up to make your future a certainty.

BEV JAMES is CEO of The Academy Group including the Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy and EBA for Coaches, joint ventures with James Caan; and The Coaching Academy — the world largest training school for coaches. She is a millionaires’ mentor, a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author of DO IT! or DITCH IT: Turn ideas into action and make decisions that count — 8 steps to business success, Virgin Books. www.BevJames.com

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