Self-Discipline Ignites Action

Have you ever considered what your profession demands of you each day? I don’t mean meetings, conference calls and the daily nuances of doing your job. Instead, what does the profession demand of your commitment to improvement? My parents have been dairy farmers for almost 70 years. It’s a tough job that demands self-discipline. Every cow must be milked every day at sunup and sundown. I grew up watching them milk 105 cows twice a day without fail. There were no holidays, birthdays or sick days. Frigid weather, pouring rain and scorching temperatures were no excuse to avoid the work. Throughout the years, the work became ingrained in who they were. They were disciplined and accountable to their work, committed to doing it daily without excuse. Now, reconsider my first question: What does your profession demand of you each day? Influence is the single greatest component of every professional’s career—a strong reputation, earning the other’s trust and being a credible source of information. Influence is about having the ability to get others to act upon your ideas. Without it, your work lacks value. Without influence, you become frustrated and ineffective. Whether you are trying to climb the ladder, close a deal or change organizational culture, influence is crucial. Self-discipline is required to grow your influence in the workplace. Without a commitment to improvement, your influence will stall. Even executives—who have earned high-profile titles through years of promotions—can lose their ability to lead when they lack the self-discipline required to focus on improving their influence. It requires an ongoing commitment to improving your communication skills. It requires having the discipline to communicate with influence in every interaction every day until it becomes ingrained in who you are. This type of commitment requires consciously thinking about your influence every time you interact with others. This is easier said than done. The daily grind distracts us and challenges our willingness to do the work. A 4 p.m. meeting on Friday when you desperately want to go home or an after-hours message from a customer can test our discipline. In these moments, however, our work counts the most. If you are ready to grow your influence, get that promotion, close that deal or have more authority in the workplace, it’s time to commit to doing the work. When it gets tough, honor your commitment, no matter how difficult the situation may be, how you feel or and if someone is watching. John Maxwell, a leadership expert and author, once said, “Discipline is doing what you really don't want to do so that you can do what you really want to do.” What is it that you really want to do? What do you want for your career? Start with these four steps to create a successful plan to achieve your goals: 1. Consider Your Goals. Get clear about what you wish to accomplish in your profession. Do you want to consistently meet or beat your sales quota? Perhaps you want to be considered for the next promotion in your company. Or, maybe you are already in an executive role within your organization but want a more productive and engaged team. Either way, determine specifically your long-term career goals. 2. Write Down Your Goals. Grab a pen and notepad to write down the specific goals needed in your role. Then, commit to a timeframe in which to achieve them. Once you’ve written down your goals, put them in a prominent place. Make several copies, if necessary, as reminders of those specific areas where you lack discipline to follow through. 3. Create an Action Plan. It’s one thing to create a goal, but it’s an empty promise if you fail to consider what action steps are needed to achieve that goal. Steps can include getting a communications coach or mentor or seeking feedback from those you trust and who will share insight into how you are perceived in the workplace. Your action plan can include videotaping yourself in meetings or on phone calls to hear yourself from other’s perspective. Action plans are the steps you need to create momentum toward your goal. 4. Commit to Someone. You are most likely to succeed when you enlist the help of an accountability partner to help you stay focused. Each week, meet with them to share what work you’ve accomplished, where you need to continue your focus and what new action plan you have in mind for the upcoming week. We are more likely to remain disciplined when we have an accountability partner, so enlist someone’s help right away. Communicating with influence takes discipline and hard work, but it’s the secret to achieving the life you want. Determine what your profession requires and what you want from it. By following these four steps to start growing your influence through commitment and discipline, changes guarantee greater results.

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