Freedom For Ideas

Sharing ideas, concepts and thoughts, mainly about Information Technology – and consulting

Discipline and teams, Part 2

Posted by Yannick Martel on September 15, 2009

Beach at sunset

Let us go on today with discipline, following my first post.

Discipline is not a very popular value today, in a cultural environment which is prone to anxiety, leading to withdrawal and the erection of barriers and walls. What is the worth of discipline when hope is missing? “Lack of hope may give place to despair or cynicism“, and hope is surely missing a lot today.

We must be strong, perform, be autonomous and so on, but we look for magic bullets, easy ways of becoming what we wish to be. And lots of people are ready to sell them! We want quick results, not years of slow progress! We cannot understand that some results can be obtained only by a long, disciplined and oriented effort.

This is still worse when we wish to discipline others: “il est interdit d’interdire” (“it is forbidden to forbid”), from the students movement in May 1968. I nevertheless realize that if we believe we can help other people grow, either our children, colleagues, team members or customers (our boss?), then hope and discipline are required – from us and from them. How then can we foster discipline?

Indeed, true discipline cannot be enforced. Going back to The road less traveled, we understand that discipline is nothing less than a grace, which can be accepted or refused.

Scott Peck finds that some patient can improve spectacularly when another, with a much less serious case, does not. Professionally, some people have this inner strength and willingness to improve. They will learn new things, experiment, trying to get better and better. They will also lead when required and follow when it is better. Some other people will just do what is required to avoid problems, and be happy with it, without trying to help when possible, without seizing opportunities.

Why is that so? For sure, personal histories, environments, corporate culture have a role to play. But they fail to explain it all. A huge part of it is indeed a mystery.

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