Definition Of Self Discipline
Tom Smith, a former athletic trainer for the Orlando Magic, told me this story over lunch one day:
One morning, in the middle of the summer, I came to work and looked in the weight room. Over in the corner I saw an athlete working out – and I did a double-take when I realized that it was the Lakers' legendary shooting guard, Kobe Bryant. I thought, Wow! What is Kobe doing in the Magic facility at this time of year? So I went over to him and said, "Kobe, what brings you here in the off-season?"
He told me he'd brought his family out for a weeklong vacation at Disney World. I asked him about his workout schedule, and here's what he told me: He came to our facility at 6:00 AM and worked out hard until 9:00 AM. Then he showered, drove thirty miles back to the hotel, picked up his family, and got to Disney World by I I:00 AM. That meant he had to be up by 5:00 AM to get to our place by 6.00! He kept up this schedule every day, Monday through Friday, throughout his vacation. If anyone wants to know why Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game today, there's your answer. It's called "self-discipline."
Author Brian Tracy defines self-discipline as "the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.'' Self-discipline is an indispensable component of focus – and one of the keys to your success. An undisciplined person is doomed to fail. You could be handed enormous wealth, influence, and a brilliant career on a silver platter, but if you lack self-discipline, you would squander those advantages in no time.
You could have all the other components of extreme focus – intense passion, lofty goals, and meticulous preparation – but without self-discipline, you're going nowhere fast. Your goals are the road map – but self-discipline fuels you on your journey.
Our success depends on our ability to be self-disciplined in every aspect of life: physical exercise and conditioning, good nutrition, spending and investing, reading and continued intellectual growth, stress management, and more. A person who is self-disciplined is positioned not only to achieve extreme levels of success, but also to maintain that success over the long haul.
One Mile to Reach His Dream
"The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win," said Roger Bannister. Today, Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister is the retired master of pembroke College at Oxford anda distinguished' " neurologist. But on May 6, 1954, Bannister gained worldwide fame for achieving a feat that was once considered humanly impossible: he became the first human being to run a mile in less than four minutes.
Prior to breaking the four-minute barrier, Bannister was an Olympic runner. He qualified for the 1952 Olympics, but entered the Helsinki games feeling unhappy with his performance. In the 1,500-meter event (sometimes called the "metric mile"), Bannister finished fourth – a strong showing, but out of the medals. He left Helsinki feeling it was time to give up competitive running and focus on a career in medicine.
When he told his coach he was giving up running, the coach replied, "Roger, I think you are the man who can break four minutes in the mile. I wish you'd give it one last try."
The four-minute mile! Bannister didn't know how to respond to that. It seemed impossible – yet his coach believed he could do it. Bannister spent a sleepless night pondering the possibility. By morning, his mind was made up. He would attempt to break the four-minute mile.
Bannister devoted himself to an intense nutritional and workout regimen. He focused on interval training, which involved periods of grueling, high-intensity (near-maximum exertion) Workouts alternating with intervals of jogging for specified distances. These interval workouts increased Bannister's endurance to go the distance and increased his ability to summon bursts of energy and speed as needed near the end of the course.
In 1953, he made two attempts at the record, each time bettering his time closer and closer to four minutes. In early 1954, Bannister ran the mile three times, clocking at 4:02.4, 4:02.6, and 4:02.6, respectively. These were stunning times, but still short of the record of 4:01,3 set by Gunder Hagg of Sweden in 1945 – and well short of four minutes. At the same time, Bannister was aware that other runners – notably Wes Santee of the United States and John Landy of Australia – were also attempting to break the four-minute barrier. Bannister felt the pressure and knew he had to work harder.
He increased his training regimen, maintaining a seemingly inhuman level of self-discipline. On May 6, 1954, he entered a track meet between the British Amateur Athletic Association and Oxford University held at lflley Road Track in Oxford. Conditions on race day were unfavorable, with winds up to twenty-five miles an hour. Bannister considered dropping out of the race in order to conserve his strength for another track meet under better conditions. But shortly before the race was to begin, the winds died down, and Bannister decided to go on with the race, Before a crowd of three thousand people, and with the race broadcast live by BBC Radio, Roger Bannister took his place at the starting line beside two other runners.
The gun sounded and the runners took off. The track was damp and not conducive to breaking world records. Yet, by the end of the third lap, Roger's time was just a half second over three minutes fiat. If he still had any kick left at the end of the fourth lap, he could do it!
But would he? As Banister Iater recounted to Olympic medalist Bob Richards, he was in agony throughout that fourth and final lap. "I don't believe I've ever been so tired," Bannister recalled. "My step began to falter and I felt dead and all of a sudden my head wits throbbing and my lungs were bursting and I thought to myself, 'Well, maybe I'd better slacken the pace and just come in to win.'" For a few seconds, Bannister's self discipline faltered and his pace slackened. Then -
"I can't understand it," he recalled, "and I can't communicate it to you, but all of a sudden something welled up within me and it said, 'Roger, if you run until you collapse on that track you're going to make this four-minute mile … For five months you've trained. You can do it.'"
Bannister fought his way through the pain, quickened his stride, and actually began to sprint the final quarter mile. As he came through the final curve, he looked down the stretch and his heart nearly failed him. "I just felt like there was an eternity between the end of that curve and that tape, fifty yards away," he said. "But I just closed my eyes and gritted my teeth and forced myself to hold stride, and I went pounding on down that stretch."
Running with his eyes closed, opening them only for an occasional glimpse, he poured his heart and soul into those final strides. He opened his eyes wide as he broke the tape and collapsed into the arms of his coach. The race was over – but what was the time?
Announcer Norris McWhirter teased the crowd, dragging out the announcement to the limits of human endurance: "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of Event Nine, the one mile: First, number 41, R. G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which – subject to ratification – will be a new English Native, British National, All-Comers, European, British Empire and World Record. The time was 3 minutes 59.4 seconds -" The crowd went wild!
A few months after the historic race, Bannister became the first-ever recipient of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award. Though this would not be his last race, he retired from athletics a short time later to pursue a medical career. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975 – not for breaking the four-minute mile, but for his work as the first chairman of the Sports Council of Great Britain.
Bannister only had to run one mile to reach his dreams, but it took every ounce of energy, endurance, and self-discipline he possessed to go that distance. In achieving that goal, he proved his own adage: when the effort became painful, he drove himself further – and he reached his dreams. To learn more, you can check out Definition Of Self Discipline.
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