Discipline in daily life

  • Published
  • By Maj. Danny Walters
  • 55th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
In recent weeks, I've had to confront the issue of discipline, many times under very different circumstances. Perhaps it was coincidence, or uncanny timing, that the 55th Wing's latest "Shanagram" addressed the same topic. Discipline is certainly a topic worth reflection ... it's a trait that is often misunderstood, yet is paramount to our approach to daily life and largely responsible for our failures and successes.

Discipline comes in many forms. When people initially hear the word, the first thought that comes to mind may be a consequence for an unacceptable action. If you're a parent, you are very familiar with this form of discipline. If you're a supervisor, and your subordinate doesn't perform a task successfully, you may enact a different form of discipline, such as task retraining or a letter of counseling. For many of us, discipline carries with it a negative connotation and it shouldn't be that way.

We must be careful not to align discipline solely with punishment or consequences, it's far too complex. Discipline isn't just an adverse action when something negative occurs, it can be utilized in every facet of daily life. In order to understand discipline, we must think of it as a branch of knowledge and learning or training that develops self control, character, orderliness and efficiency. Eastern cultures understand and embrace the concept of achieving structure and balance in one's life. As Airmen, we can learn and benefit from this concept as well.

Discipline is most effective when used to provide a structured approach to each endeavor, regardless of one's occupation, seniority or rank. Discipline drives an individual to approach each task in a systematic fashion. Disciplined individuals follow their technical data and don't take shortcuts. They conduct themselves appropriately at all times, under any conditions, regardless of who is watching.

Discipline also drives our health and wellness by pushing us to exercise at the field house or local gym, even after long days when we're less motivated. Discipline guides us, as Air Force members, to complete our professional military education on time, study for promotion or Career Development Courses and pursue advanced academic degrees, even when deployments and family issues cause plausible distractions.

While motivation and integrity are factors in these examples, discipline is certainly a driving principle in how we live our lives on a daily basis. Self-discipline is often the most difficult path, but also the most rewarding. It brings out the best in each of us and provides a structured mechanism or road map to set and achieve our goals.

Discipline forces us to critique everything we do, always asking ourselves, "Is this the right thing to do," and "Is this the best I can do?"