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Discipline and ‘stuff’

By DJ Kelly August 21, 2012

Good ideas come and go. Some of us have difficulty with the ‘coming’ of ideas – we work hard at having good ones and thinking them through – however everyone has difficulty with the ‘going’ of ideas. Implementing has a way to make a quitter out of many. When the going gets tough, the tough get going… out the door… on to something else.

There are many, many, many things we could do. Many tools available to help achieve success, but only one tool matters most: discipline. The master tool.

Stick to your guns. Nose to the grindstone. Have the courage of your convictions. Never give up. Hang in there kitty. We call it many things, but it’s all the same: we have to have the discipline to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

However this also applies to setting the goals.

In organization after organization I want to let out an audible sigh when I see them just doing ‘stuff’. Don’t get me wrong, its GREAT stuff. Truly amazing, well executed, sometimes brilliant stuff. But it’s just ‘stuff’. Usually only tangentially related to helping achieve their goal in some vague “we’ll make it align later” kind of way.

In a world with only 24 hours in a day this makes me sad to see people ‘waste’ their time on ‘stuff’. Especially when those amazing talents that had to work so hard at dreaming up and executing that ‘stuff’ could create so much more if they could just be aligned more directly to goals.

At some point I’m sure someone wrote a list of goals for the people doing the ‘stuff’. I’m even sure it’s an impressively long list that keeps everyone so busy that they would give their left arm for more resources or people to help make their ‘stuff’ a reality. Many of these folks are even incredibly disciplined at executing their ‘stuff’ incredibly efficiently.

If only we had applied that same discipline to setting the goal in the first place.

Often setting a goal and its objectives can be a process that we feel we’re going through because someone told us we had to go through it. “You need to have a goal!” “I agree!” So goals are written.

And on the shelf they go. And off we go to do what we always do. More stuff.

Goals are useless unless we have the discipline to use them as the basis for EVERYTHING we do. We have to be willing to have the discipline to use them as a lens to evaluate what tasks to undertake and what are just ‘stuff’. Yes, this might mean you stop doing something you’ve been doing for ever. But if it wasn’t helping you achieve your goal, we have to ask ourselves, “then why waste my time doing it”?

If you can have the discipline to actually ensure everything you do helps achieve your goal, suddenly all those other tools we’re already so good at become much more effective.

However sadly, most people can’t even tell you what the big picture goal is. “That’s something some big forehead wrote and put on a shelf somewhere, right?” Probably, yes. And never had the discipline to make sure everything we do aligned to it. Distracted on to his or her own other ‘stuff’.