Character Chats

How can people and teams become more disciplined?

Here at True Balance Karate we have a comprehensive character development program called True Character.

This month we’re talking about discipline: “I work before I play.”

I’m Master H, Head Instructor here at the studio and I have two master’s degrees in education. We’ve worked very hard to develop a curriculum here that will meet the needs of everyone, three to 83, as they enter our studio and join us here on the mats.

As we’re talking about discipline, I like to have discipline follow up goal setting, which is what we talked about last month. We need our discipline to meet our goals.

The only way to achieve our goals is with our focus and our discipline, with the focus on our wills and our wants, and not our won’ts, creating those rules that we have. We talked about that a couple weeks ago.

So as we move forward, how do people and teams become more disciplined?

Working together

I share with my kids at my own house about how we are a team. We work together.

We work together to make sure that certain tasks get done.

My kids are a little bit older now, but even when they were younger I was not in charge of picking up their toys. We always worked together as a team.

It was instilled in them that that is how things happen.

Here at the studio, while a lot of what we do is individual — kicking and punching and moving and doing forms — we’re also always talking about how we’re a team.

We’re building the energy of those around us. We move as one unit as we’re doing a form so that nobody gets left behind, and that is also part of our discipline.

So as we’re teaching this to our young kids and what winds up happening is we work together.

Let’s take a gigantic bucket of Legos and dump them all over the floor. Do you want to be the only one picking up those Legos or do you want to work together as a team and everybody puts the Legos away?

What happens if one person loses their focus, doesn’t stay disciplined and starts building with the Legos? Is the job ever going to get done?

So as we are building our discipline and building our teamwork — as we’re building our willpower and the ability to recognize work before play — our younger students start to understand, “I don’t want to be the only one picking this up. Let’s all do it together.”

They encourage each other to work with them.

As parents, we can do the same at home. Let’s all work together to put these things away. Let’s all work together to set the table. Let’s all work together to bake cookies or whatever age-appropriate activity is currently good for your household.

I don’t know if a two year old should be baking cookies, but a two year old could certainly help pick up some toys here and there. Absolutely.

Work before play

So as we’re building that discipline, we want to build that understanding of “work before play,” and when kids enter school they start to understand that idea. “If I get my work done now, I can play later.”

We instill that in them from a young age in schools and at home — the idea of “Let’s get our homework done now and then you can play on video games” or “Let’s get our dishes washed and then we can sit down and watch a movie or something like that.”

Anytime we can help them recognize where the work came first and then the play happens is when we will start building more and more of that discipline in our students.

They also understand this from the idea of a team.

Right now we’re in the middle of football season since it’s February. One person on the team is not going to win the game for everybody. They have to work together as a unit.

How do we build that team discipline? How do we make sure that every person on the team is pulling their weight? That is what we are working towards.

Being part of a team

Every time we can show our students that when they were being part of the team and doing what needed to happen — so that they could do their discipline and show their discipline — we’re building up their focus, willpower, and ability to achieve their goals.

That’s what we really want to see. As we’re going along, we want to make sure that we are building people up to be more disciplined.

What do you want to accomplish? What will you do to get there? What won’t you do?

What are the rewards or consequences that go along with it? How can you encourage those around you to help you with that goal?

Or, do you talk with someone like this is what you’d like to achieve? What would be a good way for you to do that?

I talk with my nutritionist every week and one of the goals, like I shared earlier, was to drink more water. But one of my other goals was to get more vegetables in my diet. So we have been talking about what I have been doing and she has given me some ideas of how to add in some more vegetables within my diet.

Then I have to stay disciplined. I have to stay focused and I have to do the work.

She can’t cook my meals for me but she is part of my team. She is giving me some coaching and building me up so that I can keep moving forward.

If we think about all of the people on our team — our families, our friends, our coworkers or our classmates in school — we can see that if we all work together we are building not just our own discipline but the discipline of those around us.

Thanks and I’ll see you on the mat.