Self-discipline? Ask the Ants! (5)

Human nature is capable of some excesses if not controlled. We naturally desire pleasure and definitely abhor pain. There is nothing wrong with pleasure; only that it has its moments. We can make pleasure our priority or our reward. Priority comes first while reward comes later. Pleasure as a priority is fleeting but as a reward, it is enduring. Vacation is a reward for a season of work. Sleep is a reward for a day of active engagement. Salary is a reward for service provided. Promotion is a reward for progress made on a job. Money is a reward for value created.

The quality of a reward is determined by the quality of the value provided, which is also determined by the quality of the effort invested. It is not easy to provide the kind of value that yields great reward. To achieve outstanding results, we must temporarily deny ourselves of pleasure and comfort. Problem arises when we seek reward before or without value delivery. This is how the ants to it:

  1. Regular schedule: ant-life is regimented. They live to nurture, sustain and protect their colony. It takes a lot of discipline to remain committed to a schedule. Experts say it takes a strict schedule to develop winning habits.
  2. Mass action: ants target their goals with excellent single-mindedness. The ability to obey inconvenient but required rules is a sign of discipline. Being submissive to another person’s leadership is discipline. George Washington said, “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all”. Ants have no leaders, yet they coordinate efficiently because of discipline.
  3. Early start: waking up early or staying up till late at night may not sound or feel pleasurable. However, excellence requires extraordinary engagement. According to Dr. David Oyedepo, “There is nothing extraordinary on its own; it is the extraordinary efforts of people that make it so”. If we fail to pay the required price for the future we desire, we will be forced to settle for an undesirable future. Jim Rohn said, “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment”.

You will never know what you are truly capable of until you discipline yourself. Push yourself today, even beyond your perceived limits, and you will not be pushed around in future.