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Building a successful business and a life you love takes enormous self-discipline. Top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles share their top tips for mastering self-discipline so you don’t hit the “snooze button” on your goals and dreams.
1. Be patiently unwavering.
Self-discipline is your only option if you want to win. People talk about wanting to win but aren’t willing to make the sacrifices necessary.
Maybe it’s hard-wiring, but there’s never been a situation when I thought that not being disciplined or wavering was in my best interests. When you’re fundamentally patient like me, it makes everything quite easy. Quit being antsy for stuff to happen so soon.—Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia (700+ employees with over $100 million in annual revenue), four-time NYT-bestselling author of “Crushing It!”
2. Do things others aren’t willing to do.
Everyone has discipline, but many apply it to the wrong things: most people’s version of discipline is a learned collection of bad habits.
Instead, be disciplined about taking massive, constructive actions that’ll provide the greatest value to your life and business. There’s no easy way to “have” discipline; you need to have a hunger to succeed. Do the things that others won’t, so you can live the life others can’t.—Grant Cardone, top sales expert who has built a $500-million real estate empire, and NYT-bestselling author; follow Grant on Facebook or YouTube
3. Master your thoughts.
Discipline starts in the mind. Pay attention and listen to yourself think. Capture and convert every negative or defeating thought into the exact opposite, and repeat until the empowering thought becomes the dominant one.
Ultimately, discipline affords you freedom from everything you don’t want: freedom from fear of failing, financial insecurity, unwanted pounds, emotional immaturity, and mental laziness. The greatest discipline is controlling your thoughts. Everything emanates from the mind.—Peter Hernandez, president of brokerage (California) at Douglas Elliman; co-founder of Teles Properties
4. Make excellence habitual.
Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Develop simple habits to ensure excellence. Ordinary things done over time become extraordinary.
To start, brain dump your goals on paper every morning, then circle the three to four most important ones and commit to executing them. Develop an immediate impulse to always take the next logical step to drive progress. Allocate the necessary time and schedule it on the calendar. What gets scheduled gets done.— Tom Shieh, CEO of Crimcheck; connect with Tom on Facebook
5. Love your mission.
Olympic athletes possess more than motivation, which is temporary and overrated. It’s self-discipline and sacrifice that sets them apart and drives them to the finish line.
To cultivate self-discipline, start with love. When your job becomes your mission, you can make the sacrifices necessary to succeed. When I wanted to run a marathon, I stopped eating everything that could derail my performance. When I wanted to start a business, I stopped spending time with anyone who didn’t further my mission.
In all these situations, my discipline was driven by my purpose to improve my life and the lives of others. Self-discipline coupled with love will keep you going when motivation wanes.—Sweta Patel, founder of Silicon Valley Startup Marketing who has advised over 200 early stage startups and high-growth companies; connect with Sweta on Facebook and Instagram
6. Focus on your dreams.
Pursuing your dreams will help you avoid distracting temptations and enable you to focus on the subjects that mean the most to you.
Find a passion that inspires you to achieve greatness. Follow it and run with it, pushing out any obstacles and distractions that impede you from reaching your goal. Keep your eye on the prize! It’s easy to succumb to temptation when your energy is not completely focused.
Pharmaceuticals and drug development are my abundant sources of inspiration. I implore you to go out and discover your own.—Jonathan Gilinski, serial entrepreneur, executive director of CapsCanada, and founder of Capsuline; follow Jonathan on LinkedIn and Twitter
7. Clarify your purpose.
The second habit of “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” is to “begin with the end in mind.” By asking myself three questions daily, I’m reminded of my purpose and ultimate endgame: “One, what do I want? Two, why do I want it? Three, what am I willing to change today to receive it?”
Clarity of purpose (What do I want?) fueled by passion (Why do I want it?) is imperative for honing and refining the self-discipline (What am I willing to change today to receive it?) necessary to persevere in building a successful business.—LeNae Goolsby, co-founder of Infinite Health and founder of Empowered Medicine TV
8. Be dumb enough to follow your own plan.
In business, everything takes longer than you want. Don’t try to achieve too much too fast. Building something great is about doing the little things right for days, weeks, months, quarters, years, and ultimately, decades.
After you figure out what you really want, determine what daily actions will automatically get you there. There will always be distractions, shiny pennies, market disruptions, and changes in the economy, but what should never change are your daily disciplines.
If you’re smart enough to write your own plan and then dumb enough to follow it, you’re gonna crush it.—Tom Ferry, CEO of Tom Ferry International, ranked the #1 Swanepoel Power 200 real estate coach, and NYT-bestselling author of “Life! By Design”; follow Tom on Facebook and Instagram
9. Commit to your calendar.
Consider being a slave to your calendar so you can be the master of your life. Your calendar should be a reflection of your business goals and ultimate dreams.
When scheduling your time, ask yourself three things. One, what specific, daily actions must I take to strengthen the foundation of my business? Two, what must I do to move the needle forward? Three, what do I need to learn and who do I need to meet to build the life I want in three to five years?
Commit to meeting and developing relationships with other innovators in your industry; I commit to one industry event per quarter. Also, plan time to recharge. The first thing I schedule is vacation!—Eileen Rivera, CEO of The Rivera Group; real estate coach, speaker, and licensed California realtor with over half a billion in sales
10. Put one foot in front of the other.
Mountaineering is the ultimate mental battleground. Standing at the base of spectacular grandeur is awe-inspiring. Knowing you have to climb that spectacular grandeur is just as equally daunting: the distance is formidable; the mind games, excruciating. But what I love most is this: there’s no shortcut! You can’t cheat the summit. Either you put one foot in front of the other for days and weeks on end, or you retreat.
The summation of many steps forward, over many days, will deliver you to the highest peak. So it is in business. So it is in life.—Trevor Chapman, proven entrepreneur and digital strategist who has generated over $100 million in sales for his businesses and partnerships; follow Trevor on Facebook
11. Move “on to the next.”
My favorite saying is “OTTN”: On To The Next. When you finally close that big deal that’s kept you up at night, do you celebrate for two weeks? You may want to, but you probably shouldn’t.
That time spent wasted on extended celebrations can be used to start the next big deal. Personal or financial milestones are great to achieve. Once you hit the goal, start working on the next goal immediately and keep grinding. Stay humble, keep your head down, and get back to work.—Ken Lebovic, president of North Shore Holdings; built a real estate empire acquiring thousands of properties in 20 years
Want to share your insights like those above in a future column? If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, please get in touch here.
Want to suggest a future topic for these entrepreneurs to answer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and it’s very possible we’ll make your suggestion the focus of a future article!
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