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What Does Discipline Mean

Discipline. One word… thousands of opinions.

Is it punishment? Is it obedience?

Is it rules? Is it enforcement?

Is it always doing the same thing? Is it always doing the right thing?

Is it consistency? Is it doing what you’re told?

Is it rigid? Is it boring?

Do you even get a choice? Do you just comply?

To understand what discipline really is and what it really means, let’s look at the origin of the word to find its intent and true form.

The root word of discipline is “disciple,” which comes from the Latin word discipulus meaning “student.” Most people believe a disciple is a “follower” (probably because of the religious context), but in reality it means student—as in, “one who studies.”

The word “discipline” is from the Latin word disciplina, meaning “instruction and training.” It is derived from the root word discere—”to learn.”

So what is discipline?

Discipline is to study, learn, train, and apply a system of standards.

What isn’t discipline?

Discipline is not rules, regulations, or punishment. It is not compliance, obedience, or enforcement. It is not rigid, boring, or always doing the same thing.

Discipline is not something others do to you. It is something you do for yourself. You can receive instruction or guidance from one or many sources, but the source of discipline is not external. It is internal.

Discipline is not obedience to someone else’s standards to avoid punishment. It is learning and applying intentional standards to achieve meaningful objectives.

                                     Discipline is a choice… your choice. It is a decision.

                                                 Better yet, all of your decisions.

The distinction between discipline being an external dynamic or an internal dynamic, a mandatory rule or a personal choice, is important. Understanding this at a deeper level is your gateway into a better, more discipline-driven life.

When you understand discipline as a choice, you are in control—not anyone or anything else. More discipline, more choice, more control. Less discipline, less choice, less control.

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