Jeff Lerner calls discipline the number one trait that is shared most commonly by super successful people. It’s not intelligence, it’s not starting with a ton of money, it’s not having really rich friends. Those things can help, sure, but discipline takes the cake. Being consistent with the activities and habits that make us better and move us closer to our goals. That’s what matters most. The opposite of that, and what most people do, is they let emotions run their life.
“Emotional action,” Jeff explains, “is doing what you feel like doing regardless of whether you should. Whereas, disciplined action is the opposite: it’s doing what you should be doing no matter how you feel. So what’s the consequence of emotional action? The consequence of emotional action is inconsistency. And inconsistency produces an enormous, almost incomprehensible disparity in results, far greater than most of us as human beings could even process.”
This is why what you do for a living has to be about more than just making money, Jeff says. Because money is an emotionally-charged subject. Outside of your significant other cheating on you, what else in life messes with your head as much as money? Probably nothing, right? Like, take the stock market, for example. What’s it driven by? Fear and greed. And those two powerful emotional states cause a lot of people to make bad decisions and lose a lot of money, don’t they?
Which is why ninety-something-percent of day traders end up negative overall, while boring investors who just dollar cost average into an index fund that follows the S&P, and hold it consistently for decades? They all make a ton of money. Case in point, that one guy, The Oracle of Omaha, who you may have heard of, right? When discipline drives behavior, when you never miss a day, well, over the long run, the results you can generate become unimaginable.
“We have no idea the level of returns we could get, in any aspect of our life, if we were just consistent,” Jeff says. “I talk a lot about this in Entre [Institute]. The math of a human life: all it really is is our average day times the number of days you live. That’s it. So many of us, we wanna define our life by how we did on our best day. But your best days really don’t mean crap. Your life is about your average or typical day. So you want that to be as close to your best day as possible.”
“Discipline is about learning. A disciplined person chooses actions every day that reflect lessons already learned and invite new ones. If it is possible to get a little wiser every day, then it’s possible to get a little better every day. That is the essence of discipline. And the result of discipline is discernment, the ability to separate that which serves us and that which enslaves us. We are slaves to those things that do not serve us. Like Jocko Willink says, discipline equals freedom.”
Inside his Entre courses, Jeff hammers these principles over and over. “We live by choice, not by chance. We decide, we choose what happens. There are no accidents. We strive for excellence in all that we do. We’re obsessed with improvement. We practice thoughtful communication. We eagerly do hard things well. We take daily disciplined action. We move fast, learn fast, and grow fast.” A doctrine you can take to the bank. Check out Jeff’s podcast for more on this.
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