“The Discipline Of Desire Is The Background Of Character” — John Locke
One of the most effective skills today that will give you an unfair advantage both in business and in life is self-discipline. The truth is that without discipline, no matter what your goals are, how big or small they might be, finding the will to make it through the tough times and overcome failure will seem next to impossible. Yet, for those who wield this skill, the world truly is their oyster. Amongst the richest individuals on the planet, it’s discipline that created the bridge between goals and accomplishment.
The simple art of discipline is so important, some of the most influential speakers, authors and icons in history have touted the true potent power of it. John Locke, one of the most famous philosophers and authors of our time, once said that “the discipline of desire is the background of character.” Buddha once claimed that “to enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.”
However, here’s the unfortunate truth. Many of us lack discipline. We lack the wherewithal to achieve our dreams and our desires thanks to this incessant Hedonic Treadmill that we call life. While we’re busy keeping up with the proverbial Jones’s, we fail to pay homage to the underlying fundamentals of success in life. The fact that 92% of people fail to achieve their long-term goals sums up our inability to discipline ourselves.
Still, we all know that discipline is the pathway forward. Like a bright light illuminating the seas in a turbulent storm, it’s what helps us reach the shores of hope. This Utopian dream isn’t new. We’ve always yearned to accomplish big things in life. But we’ve been unable to overcome some of the natural tendencies that hold us back. Stuck in a so-called rut, when we lack discipline, we constantly feel lost, overworked and overwhelmed.
The Discipline Of Desire
So here’s the question. We all know that discipline is important. But what did John Locke mean, precisely, when he said that the discipline of desire is the background of character? Well, let’s break this down for a moment by looking at the discipline of desire. When we desire something it simply means we have a goal, a hope or a dream to achieve something in our lives. However, having that goal or dream without the discipline of desire is futile.
When Locke says that this equates to the background of character, he simply means that being discipline in wanting to achieve something, is the definition of our character. So, if we are disciplined enough to desire things in life, and we work tirelessly to achieve and attain those things, it is the definition of a persistent character. If the discipline of our desire is equatable to shiny-object syndrome, where we jump from wanting one thing to the next, the background of our character is filled with loss and failure and second-guesses.
Locke was effectively saying that if you want something badly enough, if you desire that thing so much so that you instill discipline into your life, it illuminates a persistent character. When you’re disciplined enough to work hard and smart, ethically pursuing a goal, you have integrity. When you try to trick people to help you attain what you want, you lack the character and can best be described as dishonest or conniving.
The Background Of Character
John Locke’s work had a profound impact on the founding fathers of our country. In fact, his work regarding liberty and the social contract surely weaved its way into the Constitution of the United States. His impact was far and wide. That might be why he was so concerned about character. Truly, he was one of the greats. Not only did he care about the discipline of desire, but also about the background of one’s character.
However, here’s the question. What can you truly learn from this? What can you take away? And how can you use discipline of your personal or professional desires to make serious gain in your life? The truth? Anyone can set a goal. But not many people can achieve that goal. That’s because most people lack the discipline of desire. True discipline allows us to accomplish outlandish things.
Now, if you don’t want things to get in the way, there is a path forward. There is a process you need to follow to attain real discipline. Remember, not only is the discipline of desire the background of character, but it’s also the bridge between goals and accomplishments. The one thing that will move you from where you are in your life today to where you want to be is discipline. And to get there, you have to follow a very distinct path.
Step 1. Find Real Meaning
Here’s what I’ve noticed in life. When you set goals, if you don’t set them with real meaning, you give up. The truth is, you will never do enough to attain those shiny objects when your reasons are superficial. If you want something merely because you think that it will make you feel good or look good in front of your peers, that’s not enough to get you there. You have to dig deep and find something that’s at the core of who you are.
How do you find real meaning? Search deep into your essence. Go 7-layers deep. Meaning, keep asking yourself why you want something until the answer equals the question. Usually, that’s a one-worded answer. Like, family, country, freedom, security, and so on. What you’re real reason? If you’re not finding real meaning, you can forget about having the discipline of desire. It will be next to impossible to stay focused and on track towards the attainment of your goals.
Step 2. Be Honest With Yourself
Be honest with yourself. What holds you back? Do you over do the booze? Do you gamble too much? Do you do drugs? Do you procrastinate too often? What are the things that are holding you back in life? The raw and honest truth here is that we can be our own worst enemies. We can feel like we’re working hard, but not making any strides forward. You have to wonder why that is when you get held back by things like over-spending or racking up debt.
Look, life isn’t easy. We have plenty that’s working against us. So we have to be smart. It’s not just about working hard. Plenty of people work hard. You have to be smart. Not only with your money, but with your habits and everything else that you do throughout the course of your personal or professional career. Keep in mind that one wrong move can be costly. So be wary. Be honest. And make strides to change.
Step 3. Manage Your Time Carefully
Time is the greatest equalizer in life. You can’t get any more of it than anyone else. Doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, the color of your skin, your gender, religion, occupation or anything else. Time is time. And it’s equal. Just 24 hours in a day. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Money on the other hand. Well, that can be spent and pilfered and then saved and earned again. Not time. Time is used once and it’s gone forever.
So, if you truly have the discipline of desire, use your time wisely. Locke surely would have told you that had he been here today to talk with you. How you use your time says a lot about you. Do you squander it away? Or, do you use it wisely and work on long-term goals and put in the effort to make progress in life? Ask yourself that question. If you’re binge watching Netflix series every night and complaining about lacking discipline, then you need to head back to step 2 and be more honest with yourself.
Step 4. Watch Your Finances Like A Hawk
My business partner is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. Yet, he still finds ways to save money without spending blindly. This guy is someone to be admired. He watches his money so carefully. Now, he couldn’t spend all the money he has in 100 lifetimes. And when I ask him why he’s so careful about his money he tells me it’s because he’s always been that way. But also because when he didn’t have it, he knew exactly how it felt and never wants to be back in that place again.
That’s pretty powerful stuff. But it also goes to show you something else. Screw keeping up with the Joneses. Because, why should you try to impress other people? At the end of the day, no one really cares. Sure, it might feel good in the moment, but it’ll surely feel better when you invest your money into assets rather than liabilities. Remember, poor people invest in liabilities whereas rich people invest in assets. And, what’s the best asset you can invest in? Your self and your education of course.
Step 5. Fail Your Way To The Top
The discipline of desire is one thing. But what happens when you fail? The truth? Most people just give up. They throw in the towel and they call it quits. But, you can’t do that. You have to stay persistent. You have to push through. Use failure as a stepping stone not as a road block. If you want something badly enough, you’ll get it. Of course, that’s also where the background of your character will come into play.
Will you work hard and with integrity? Or will you cower into a corner and try to take shortcuts? The choice is ultimately yours and yours alone. However, keep in mind that it’s the rest of your life at stake. How you approach things and what you do has the potential to impact the state and quality of things for years, even decades, to come.
What are the secrets to being disciplined in life? The fact is that you can have all the strategy and tactics in the world, but if you can’t implement with a persistent heart, you’ll get nowhere fast. You’ve likely experienced that before. There’s a reason why Jim Rohn said that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. It’s because that is the way you get there. Without discipline, you’ll fight a never-ending battle to achieve your dreams. It just won’t happen.
It’s impossible to achieve your goals without discipline. But for the undisciplined man or woman amongst us, how do you become a discipline Jedi master? Well, there is a blueprint. A road map, if you will. There are secrets to discipline that can ultimately change your life. Sure, you need deep meaning to your goals, but you also need to set your goals the right way. You need to use the SMARTER goal setting method.
Want to learn more? Allow me to hold your hand and walk you through the steps it takes to inject true discipline into your life. Join my free web class where I teach how you can harness the true power of discipline in your life to propel you forward. If you’ve felt lost, overwhelmed and overworked, you are not alone. There is a solution. And that solution is discipline secrets, one of the most revolutionary courses in the world for gaining true insight into who you are, and injecting real discipline, allowing you to achieve your wildest dreams on autopilot. See you guys on the inside.