How to become a more disciplined leader

blog Feb 02, 2022

Every great leader I know has two primary characteristics:

  • They have clear goals, and 
  • They are disciplined

Goals are like a magnet— they pull us onward and upward. The stronger they are, the more purposeful they are, the more focused they are, the stronger they pull.

In the previous lesson we discussed the goal. In this, we’ll discuss discipline.  

There are eight ways to become a more disciplined person.


#1 = Focus on your habits.

John Maxwell says, “Most people have uphill dreams, but downhill habits.”


Things left un-pushed and un-attended tend to wind down.

Success doesn’t exist without the process, without the climb…

When planning projects and dreaming dreams, I always ask people do honestly ask (and answer)— 

How long will it take you doing these actions in order to see the results you want to see?

And are you willing to invest that time? In other words, is this REALLY your dream?

Do you see what happens when we ask these questions? 

Yeah, it reveals where things really are…


#2 = Place yourself on the calendar first. 

If we wait until things “slow down” to do the things that really matter, they will never get done. 

Place the following ON YOUR CALENDAR as appointments and don’t allow anything to get in the way:

  • Personal Development: Spending time alone with God
  • Personal Growth: Reading and Study Time 
  • Personal Relationships: Spouse, Family, Friendships
  • Personal Exercise
  • Personal Recreation and Hobbies

At first it may sound narcissistic to think that as the leader I should place myself first. In reality, as the leader, the best gift I give to my organization is a healthy me. Therefore, I must place myself on the calendar first.


#3 = Rob your sleep rather than rob your family. 

I used to hate mornings. 

I would not consider myself a natural morning person and I’m never very nice before my TWO cups of coffee in the morning. 

I also used to love late night TV. Letterman is still my all time favorite. 

However, years ago I gave up late night TV. If my mind was going to fresh and focused in the morning, I would need to make a commitment to go to bed earlier! 

For the last fifteen years, I have gone to bed between 9 and 10 PM. Guess what happens/ How do you get up earlier? Go to bed earlier!

The most valuable, uninterrupted time of my day always comes very early in the morning when no one else needs me. I can get more accomplished from 6:30-8:30 AM than I can in an entire afternoon! 

Uninterrupted time equals more disciplined time. 

Who’s our best example?

His name was Jesus and one example of his impact in the early morning hours states, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” Mark 1:35 (NIV)


#4 = Schedule time to be inaccessible and unavailable.

Leaders cannot always maintain an open door policy. If your life is one big interruption, you can’t work on yourself NOR can you focus on the biggest projects on your table. 

The best gift you can give your team is NOT unfettered access. 

Calendar time to read, grow, learn, work on the organization…


#5 = Focus on one area of change at a time.

Don’t try to change everything…at least not all at once!

Don’t write yourself off as being an undisciplined person and use that as an excuse. 

Self Control is a fruit of the Spirit. You can do this. Start with one area. Focus on one new area of discipline. 

One area of discipline spills over into another area. Before you know it, you have become a more disciplined person. 


Focus on progress not perfection. 

The only way you fail is to quit. Don’t give up!


#6 = Don’t cheat and don’t take a break.

I never understood cheat days on diets. People would work hard all week, then take a “cheat day,” effectively undoing the progress from the day before, losing a full-day of progress they could have made (the cheat day itself), and then having to use the following day to re-do what was done the day before the cheat day. 

In other words, a cheat day— in dieting— costs you THREE days of movement, not just one.

In the end, if we value the goal more than the experience of the “cheat,” it’s not worth it. Keep going forward!


#7 = Get accountable.

When setting new discipline goals, always make them public. 

You may fail to meet your goals, but if you don’t have accountability, you don’t have a prayer of meeting your goals. 

Without accountability, I will compromise…I will cheat….I will give up. If I am accountable, my odds for success go up greatly. 

By the way, if you really want to be held accountable, ask your Spouse to hold you accountable! 

Awhile back I set a new goal to take it to another level from a physical point of view. It conveniently came right before swimsuit season. I typed out the following goals and printed them off FOR MY ENTIRE FAMILY:

  • No Sugar
  • No Sweet Tea
  • No Sodas
  • No Sugar Substitute
  • No Fried Food
  • No Chips of Any Kind
  • 2 Workouts Every Day
  • Salads for Dinner

This was tough...but guess what? I was successful (for the most part) because I made myself accountable!



#8 = Focus on the fruit, not the process. 

It’s easy to defer working on a project, a dream, or even rebuilding your life because— face it— there’s always “so much work to do.” On anything.

And getting started = often the hardest.

Especially when there seems to be a big distance between where you are and where you want to be…

… and, moresoo, when that distance seems to have gotten longer, farther, the divide deeper… and that you may have actually “lost ground” due to a stumble, a sin, a snafu— even if it was your fault, someone else’s, or (as most things are) a tangly mix of both…

Go for progress, not perfection. And remember WHY— the outcome— of what you are doing. Face it, the daily grind often isn’t that fun. That’s why people give up. 

But, by just moving a bit closer to your intended destination each day— and by looking at what’s ahead— you’ll continue.


This video comes from the Catapult course.