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Discipline is remembering what you want.

Wow. That’s a lot of life-changing power packed into six little words.

In Business:

You could say that, in business, discipline is staying true to your brand.

I once heard someone say that a brand is nothing more than a logo and a crowd. I disagree, though, because in order to draw that crowd to the brand in the first place, there had to be something that distinguished it from the others in the market.

In advertising, it’s known as the “Unique Selling Proposition.” Rosser Reeves, one of the real-life Mad Men of Madison Avenue, coined the phrase in his 1960 book, Reality In Advertising.

You may have never heard of Rosser Reeves or his book. But I’ll bet you’ve heard, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

That’s his! And it’s still used to this day as the USP for M&Ms.

Once you establish your own USP in your market, discipline is staying true to it, while simultaneously shouting it from the rooftops.

In Life:

Willpower is temporary. To truly change, you have to change your relationship with the people, place, or thing that’s at the center of your habit. Let’s call it a “habit trigger.”

Remember that twenty pounds I vowed to lose? Well, it’s still here. And so is my current relationship with chocolate cake.

The cake brings me immediate pleasure. It’s a dependable friend who never lets me down. It gives and gives, and never asks for anything in return.

But wait a minute. Maybe it’s not as good of a friend as I think. Maybe it’s not just giving. Could it be taking something from me? Maybe it’s holding me back from living a more active lifestyle.

My knees hurt. I bet if I weren’t lugging around an extra twenty pounds, my knees wouldn’t hurt as much. Hmmm…

Do you see how my relationship with chocolate cake is starting to change? Instead of a friend I hang out with everyday, maybe we just get together on special occasions.

Now it’s not a question of willpower and resisting a constant temptation. I’m just not that into the cake anymore. We used to be friends, but now we’re just acquaintances. Our relationship changed and we drifted apart.

In Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz metaphorically describes willpower as a stretched rubber band. You can hold it stretched tight for awhile, but as soon as you get distracted or tired, you’re going to let go and it will return to it’s normal state.

Keeping your ultimate, positive goal in the forefront of your mind will keep you from getting distracted, while you also forge a new relationship with your habit trigger — one that puts you in more control, with you calling the shots and dictating the terms.

In this way, discipline is not the ultimate restriction; it’s actually the ultimate freedom.

So remember…

Discipline is remembering what you want.

— David Campbell

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