Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Do As You Please

August is the last big bash before school starts. It's the month that stirs contrary and wild notions in me. Now I've been out of school for a long time (not learning, just school). But the beginning of August with its cooler, crisper nights still triggers in me a need to rebel before it's too late. Discipline will begin all too soon.

Discipline, the thing we often initiate when we want to get more done, can, in fact, hinder progress. Letting go of discipline is a statement of faith in you. So as summer closes, try the month of August without discipline. Just trust yourself. It's only a month. It's okay. You can always go back. Here are some ideas. Pick two or three and go for it!

Ten Ways to Live August

Get Selfish. Get your needs met as quickly as possible and you have more time, energy and inclination to “be there” for the important people in your life. Over-discipline your own life and there's no room for the requests of others. If you don't have that room when someone you care about makes a request, you'll either say “yes” with resentment or “no” with guilt.

Quit Being Patient. If you can't have something you want, merely move on to something else you want. Eventually timing will work for you and you can have all you want. But disciplined patience is a waste of your time.

Be Extraordinary Curious. Curiosity is at the heart of everything I learn and know. When I try to be disciplined, I become less curious.

Quit Developing and Start Evolving. Discipline can help you “develop” yourself but it does not work well if you want to “evolve.” Self-development may make you a better person (good) but personal evolution will make you more of who you are (great!.

Hang Out with “Bad” People. Discipline tends to keep us in the company of like-minded people. Now, there are days when I'm feeling vulnerable and need that security. But rigid discipline will keep me away from those who are most apt to push all my buttons and that's where I learn the most about myself.

Stop Tolerating. Tolerations are the things we live with that remind us that our life is not quite right. They can be as small as the cabinet door that does not shut easily to as big as the actions of a person you live or work with. Think of tolerations as the things you carry around each day in your daypack. The cabinet toleration can weigh as little as an ounce. The relationship toleration may weigh as much as 10 pounds. But each toleration increases your load and slows you down. Discipline often encourages tolerations by asking us to behave contrary to the way we feel.

Integrate Everything. Do you want to enjoy your work as much as your play? It's possible. But if you rigidly hold on to discipline as something that makes you strong, you are then also holding on to the idea that suffering is necessary. Perhaps you believe in “paying your dues” because you grew up with the notion that only hard work is rewarded and suffering in is required. That may have worked for our parents and grandparents, bless them, but we have evolved and more and more people are making a great living doing exactly what they love.

Embrace Simplicity. Let's say you've got five goals you want to attain in the next year. If you're disciplined, you've probably broken each of those five goals down into at least five strategies. That's 25 strategies. And each strategy has at least five daily action steps. How are you going to handle 125 action steps a day? The disciplined person will have daily action charts pasted all over the house and office. And, they're less apt to recognize when a goal has changed because they've invested so much in it. Now what's simple about that?

Follow the Path of Least Resistance. Discipline creates resistance. We're living in an era where what we want today will change quickly because more options are opening up every day. If you don't reach your goals quickly, you'll be living a life of resistance and friction rather than celebrations and moving on.

Go for the Surprise! Discipline does not hold much surprise. Get over yourself and allow the surprises to crop up daily.

“’Discipline.’ What a thankless word that is—and how beside the point.” ~Julia Cameron

"Never destroy any aspect of personality, for what you think is the wild branch may be the heart of the tree." ~Mrs. Henry George

"If I am a gentleman and you are a gentleman, who will milk the cow?" ~Irish folk saying

"Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority." ~Thomas Huxley

"It is the studying that you do after your school days that really counts. Otherwise, you know only that which everyone else knows." ~Henry L. Doherty