With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
I have a friend that just completed her Lenten fast. During this time she gave up all dairy. This was a huge sacrifice because she loves ice cream and cheese. This was an exercise of spiritual discipline; it helped reconnect her with her faith through meditation, reading and prayer. It also strengthened her understanding that she needs to find and become engaged in a faith community as soon as possible. At its core it was spiritual renewal and re-commitment. I am very proud of her and was happy to cheer her on during this journey.
Those are all great lessons that carryover into everyday life and great lessons that I think carry over into the nonprofit arena. For some of us the word discipline can carry a negative connotation. We think of maintaining order, making sure instructions are carried out to the letter. We think of constraints and punishment. We think creativity killer.
That does not sound like fun, yet I know one thing to be true: Discipline is wanted and needed by almost all of us whether we are an individual or an instituition.
I am a person that likes the creativity that comes from change and chaos, but even I know that if organizations and communities are to survive we need to embrace discipline. Without hard work and discipline it is difficult to be a top professional to run a top notch organization.
What can discipline do for us?
It provides focus. Focus helps to keep us at the top of our game. Ours is a business that requires discipline and focus. When we set us systems and processes we make sure we are spending our time and energy on what’s really important to move our strategy forward. We get to focus on the long term goals.
Discipline is not a dirty word. It is actually the pathway between dreams and goals to actual implementation and accomplishments. Strong organizations sit at the corner of leadership and management. Management is discipline. This discipline should start at the top with the board and executive director and cascade down into every area of the organization. There is no magic bullet that can resolve our problems. Only our hard work and discipline.
One of my very smart twitter followers mentioned that discipline allows us to rest. To step away from our organizations to help stave off burn out. Regular breaks are mandatory and having the discipline to explore other interest is super important. Burn out hurts us all.
Discipline actually strengthens us against fear. Fear that we cannot raise enough money, that we do not have enough time or resources, that our reach/ impact is not large enough. Fear that keeps our thoughts and culture grounded in a lack mentality. Discipline allows organizations to be fearless. You can take calculated risk when your organization operates from a more secure place. When you are grounded in your purpose.
The nonprofit sector likes to praise discipline but very few of organizations like to submit to it. If I am being honest I like to praise discipline as well, but not necessarily submit to it.
Yet submit we must.
Discipline is not a chore it is actaually our follow through .Discipline is a victory that should be celebrated. There is beauty, liberty and freedom to be found in discipline if we open ourselves to it..