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Determination and discipline entrepreneurs need to succeed [PODCAST]


PreneurCast is a marketing + business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.

Starting a new series on Foundations, in this episode Dom talks about the difference between Determination and Discipline, why determination has a dark side, and why you need discipline to truly succeed.

Dom talks about the importance of discipline and determination to succeed in your business 

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Episode 088:
Determination vs Discipline

Dom Goucher:    Hi everyone, and welcome to the first PreneurCast of 2013. This is Dom Goucher and you will probably notice that I’m missing something this show. Pete, my co-host, or as he would say, my partner in crime, is taking a break. At the end of last year we told you that we’d be going to every other week for the podcast.

But with the imminent arrival of his new family, Pete and I decided that he should take some time off to spend with his family and get ready for the birth of his baby. So, Pete’s taking a break. It’s just me for a few shows. And, I’m going to kind of work on a thread for these shows.

I’m going to do a series of shows on foundational principles, things to get you thinking in the right direction and boost your productivity and your profits this year by giving you a good start to the year. This week, I want to talk about something that came from a Platinum Group.

The Platinum Group is something that I’m going to be talking about soon because we’re going to be opening it to the public, but only for a limited time. So, listen out for that announcement. But, a member of our Platinum Group raised a topic of determination versus discipline. So, that’s the topic for this show.

But before I talk about all that, let’s just talk a little bit about Pete and his time off. I’m a big fan as well, Pete’s a fan of Dan Kennedy and everything that he does. But another person that Pete put me onto was a guy called Brian Tracy, who I wholeheartedly recommend that you listen to.

Brian does a phenomenal body of work, both books and courses. And he covers all kinds of topics from business to marketing, and time management. One of the things that he said is that it’s important that when you are at work, that you focus on the quality of the time that you spend at work.

But when you’re at home, it’s important to focus on the quantity of time that you spend. So, just bear that in mind. We’re going to come back to that in another show in this series where I’m going to talk to you about time management, valuing your time.

When Pete and I talked about the podcast and moving forward this year, and we talked about him taking some time off, that was because he wanted to spend a quantity of time at home. Not just focusing himself while he was at home, but actually just allocating a lot more time to his home life, just for this period.

And when he is at work, and he’s with other businesses, he’s going to focus his time on the quality of his work, so that he gets more done in less time, which is something we should all take to heart. So I just thought I’d point that out at the beginning of the year.

Let’s get back and get onto my main topic, and that is determination versus discipline. Let’s look at those two words in the traditional sense, as I think most people would understand them. The first word is determination, and determination is really one of these things. You see it as this boundless energy that you see.

Sometimes you have it, sometimes other people have it. The energy to see a goal and go for it, to overcome all obstacles, to forge ahead, to not be knocked down or held back. And, quite fittingly, anybody who knows Pete will have seen this in action. This is how Pete is. Pete has phenomenal determination.

For all of his working life, he’s exhibited this. But discipline is slightly different. Discipline is traditionally this idea of doing things you know you should when you don’t really feel like it. Things like taking breaks from work. Things like setting up systems. Things like studying and growing your knowledge.

Or just things like regularly putting in a content, like an article on your blog, a podcast, or a video. Or sticking with it to finish a product and get it launched. All those things go under the heading of something that our friend Ed [Dale] talks about, which is always be shipping, regularly putting out content.

It’s a really important thing if you are into the online marketing space and you’re trying to build an audience. This regularity is very important. But discipline is important in all areas of business, and in all kinds of business.

Now, the mixture of these two things, determination and discipline, is often called willpower. That thing where you know you should do it, and you actually get on and do it. There’s a lot that’s been written and talked about willpower. In fact, Pete recommended a book recently to me on that topic- just coincidently.

It’s a book called Willpower, and I’ll put a link to it in the show notes, because it’s not really what I’m talking about today. What I want to talk to you about is more about focusing and optimizing the determination, the energy that you have, through discipline. Making your determination more effective, if you will.

You see, I’ve got a bit of a downer on determination in its rawest form. I think there is a bit of a dark side to it. Don’t get me wrong, determination is valuable. You should keep on keeping on. You should go the extra mile for your business. Don’t be put off. You should see problems and failures as a learning experiences, rather than deterrents.

But, determination alone isn’t enough for me. Even willpower is easily subverted and because determination and willpower can sometimes cause you problems. For example, determination is a huge cause of burnout. Eventually, you run out of energy. Eventually, you get tired. Eventually, you get burnt out.

That’s why you need discipline to make the most of your determination. Something else from Brian Tracy I mentioned at the beginning of the show, something else from Brian Tracy that he said, and this is so, so true. This is very close to something that I say very often.

Brian Tracy said, “There is no bigger waste of energy than perfectly completing a task that didn’t need doing.” Now, think about that in the context of determination. If you are super-mega-determined you are going to overcome all obstacles and you put all of your effort into something, but that thing didn’t really need doing, it really wasn’t a core task in your business.

It really wasn’t going to make a huge difference to your bottom line, then that was a complete waste of your energy and time. So yes, discipline is about doing things when you don’t feel like it and being consistent with those things. But it’s more subtle than that. There’s more to it than that.

Because if you use discipline, then you can focus your determination to get much more effect from it. And actually, some people say that discipline takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of thinking, but it doesn’t. Ironically, the more that you apply discipline, the less energy it takes.

Because discipline is about standing back and thinking smarter, not harder. It’s about taking notes and making systems for the processes in your business as you go along. If you take those notes, you make those systems, as an example, then the next time you come to do that task, you’ll have a series of steps to follow.

And the next time, if this task becomes a mechanical task, well- you can delegate or outsource that task. You’re saving energy all the time by having the discipline to take those notes and make those systems, for example. And discipline, again, is made easier by those systems and by frameworks.

Frameworks- Pete and I talk about all the time- frameworks are methodologies, systems, steps, processes for you to evaluate what you’re doing. It’s a way of saying what should I be focusing on? What do I do next? But why am I doing it? The 7 Levers of Business, for example, is a framework that we talk about regularly.

It’s a really important framework. Yes, we talk about that if you look at these 7 Levers of your business, seven areas of the business where you can make an improvement- and there are 7 Levers of every business- and if you make a 10% improvement of each one, at the end of the sequence, you could literally double the profitability of your business.

But it’s not just about that. It’s about the fact that there are these seven areas, and that you regularly focus on one area. So few people do it- these determined people, these people with all this energy. And I imagine the audience right now is right down the middle 50/50.

That you have people that are determined and have lots of energy, and then you have people that might be quite determined but really don’t have all that much energy. So hopefully, I’m speaking to two different groups of people, but you’ll both get something from what I’m saying. With a framework, you can focus your energy- whatever energy you have.

Whether you have boundless energy, or you have limited energy, with a framework and a bit of discipline to stick to the framework- instead of chasing the next silver bullet, or instead of focusing all your energy on one part of your business, by using the 7 Levers framework, you can step through your business improving each area, which give you a much more consistent growth of the business.

It’s a much more sustainable thing. The example we always use in the 7 Levers is that most people focus on the first lever, or the first few levers. The first lever is traffic, and most people try and improve their traffic. But to double your volume of traffic takes a lot of energy, or a lot of resources- usually a lot of money. You can pay for a lot more advertising.

But there’s a limit to the response on advertising, so you then have to find new advertising platforms. And to double the traffic wouldn’t necessarily double your profit. You might get twice as many people to your website, or twice as many people through the door of the store, but actually that could cause you problems.

Because you’re just focusing on that, you’re not paying any attention to the back-end. You’re not paying any attention to how you get those people to opt in, the processes in your store to get people to actually experience merchandise. Or how you convert, how you get people to actually buy things.

So, you might put all that energy and effort into getting more people in the door, or getting more people to see your website, but nothing’s happening with those people. It’s wasted effort. It’s wasted time, energy, resources. So, a framework is a great way of disciplining yourself to not just focus on one thing and to go and look at all the different areas in a particular system, or in your business.

Similarly, by using a framework and saying I’m looking at traffic this week, or this month, or I’m looking at opt-ins, or I’m looking at conversion, it also stops you from reacting to the next silver bullet that you might see. You might meet someone and they say, “Hey, I’m doing Facebook advertising and it’s awesome! I’m getting lots of traffic!” Well, that’s fine if you want traffic, if traffic is what you’re working on.

But just going and getting the course on Facebook traffic and taking up a week of your time watching the course, and making the adverts, and testing things out, and paying for all of this just to get more traffic- well, that may not actually be where the biggest win is in your business.

Again, discipline of focus and discipline of following a framework will help you. Now, by the way, I’m not against Facebook traffic. Facebook traffic is awesome, but it’s only awesome if you have the discipline to evaluate if it’s good for you, whether it’s awesome for you.

Same with print advertising, same with any technique that we talk about. You need these frameworks and you need the discipline. Because otherwise, determination is just like having all the money in the world. If you’ve got all the energy in the world, off you go and you will do everything. But, you won’t do it focused.

Somebody with a little bit of time, and a little bit of energy can very often, eventually exceed the successes of somebody with boundless determination and energy, just by focusing their time. And this is really important. Because I think there are people out there that maybe have a full-time job and they’re trying to set up a business.

Or they are self-employed and they can’t really find the time to do promotional activities for a business- to grow their business by promoting it, by doing more client communication. So, with a bit of determination, you’re still working hard, you’re still turning in doing the hours.

But with a bit of focus and discipline, you’ll allocate those hours a little bit better. And we’ll talk a little bit- in the next show, we’re going to talk about time management. Another kind of discipline is also constantly looking for the core and the mechanic tasks in everything you do. Core and mechanics is, again, another key concept of things Pete and I talk about.

When you look for the core and mechanics tasks, then you can find the things that you can delegate or outsource. When you find those mechanical tasks and they’re documented, and you have the processes in place, you can delegate them to someone else, or you can outsource them to someone else so you can do more of the core work.

So again, that energy that you have, whether you have boundless determination and energy, or a small amount of energy and a small amount of spare time, by focusing on the core task, by disciplining yourself to focus on those core tasks, then you’re using that energy to its best effect.

On a complete flip to that, by the way, whether you have boundless energy and determination or you have limited energy, discipline is also about taking breaks- taking time to live your life. And this is something that is emphasized by the absence of Pete on this call, but it is something that I want to make sure that everybody this year puts a little thought to.

And again, that’s why the next show is about time management and valuing your time, because I’ve got a little bit of a different slant on that for you coming up. But, we all know that we should take time. We all know that we should take breaks. But in fact, ironically, that is one of those things that is probably the least adhered to.

It’s probably the thing that people do least, that think about least, that actually put systems and processes in place for least, is taking breaks. But, without taking those breaks, that’s when burnout happens. No matter how determined you are, no matter how much energy you have, at some point, you will burn out.

So, discipline is planning in and taking those breaks. Because otherwise, determination alone would have you do it all yourself. Think about what I’ve just talked about. I’ve just talked about the different areas of your business, and about core versus mechanics, and taking breaks.

Well, determination alone will tell you, “I can do it all myself! I can work all hours of the day and night! I don’t need that much sleep.” Just because you can. Right now, maybe you do have that energy. But as it’s the first show of the year, I think it’s about time I say one of my favorite phrases, which is just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

And that is really, really important. Just because right now you have all this energy and determination, you will keep going. Don’t push yourself to break. Don’t push yourself to burn out. Take time off. Look for the core and mechanics tasks. Look for things that you can get other people to do. And make sure that your energy is being directed and focused.

In other words, for those of you that have this determination, this energy, look for places where your determination is actually leading you down the wrong path. I just want to go back to that thing that I said at the beginning, that I heard from Brian Tracy, which is that there is no bigger waste of energy than perfectly completing a task that didn’t need doing. And that really does bear repeating and thinking about.

So, I applaud your energy- those of you out there that have energy and determination to keep going, that work all of those hours of the day and night. I really do. But at the same time, I feel for those who have less energy, that have a full day that may be starting a family, or have a family already and have got all of these pulls on their time, and they have to use their time carefully.

Those two ends of the spectrum. But either way, without that focusing aid of discipline, potentially you’re going into a “spray and pray” situation, where your efforts are diluted because they’re spread across a bunch of areas and tasks. Some of which, you may not even need to be doing. And for those of you who maybe are missing Pete, here’s a metaphor from triathlons.

Determination will get you started. Saying yes, I am going to do a triathlon. It’s my goal. I’m going to do it. It will even get you to the race. I’m going to turn up. I’m definitely going to attend. I’m booking my ticket. I’m going. I’m going to go to wherever the race starts. I’m going to go.

But, without the discipline of going to the training sessions, of focusing your efforts on improving your stamina, identifying those holes in your technique and improving those, determination alone is highly unlikely to get you over the finish line. Even somebody who has successfully competed in a triathlon before will tell you, it doesn’t mean they can stop training.

It doesn’t mean they can stop looking for those issues of technique and to keep improving their stamina. They don’t do it just because they want a better time next year. They do it because they actually want to finish, because they know that’s what it takes. And by the way, as Pete will tell you, it’s just as important- the breaks that you take when you’re training for a triathlon, as the training that you do.

So, perhaps a little bit shorter show than you’re used to, and definitely one person down this week. Pete will be back soon. But, I’m going to continue this series over the next couple of shows. Next week, I’m going to talk to you about valuing your time, which is a slightly different take on time management- because there’s lots of people talk about time management.

Hopefully, there’s food for thought in this week’s show. Don’t forget, we are spreading the shows out two weeks apart now, because we have a lot of other commitments. Thank you for listening and look forward to catching up with you on the comments- either on PreneurMedia.tv, where you can download the show.

Listen to it online, read the show notes, see all the links about all the things that talk to, and leave us a comment. Please do. Either below the show, or in the little audio comment pop-up that’s on the side of the site. Or, in iTunes. We love your iTunes comments, and we really appreciate, if you do like the show, you leaving us a comment on iTunes.

It let’s other people know about the show, and helps us kind of appear in the iTunes rankings. And thank you to everyone who’s done that so far. And, I’ll see you all in the next show.


Willpower – Roy F. Baumeister
Previous PreneurCast Episodes:
Episode 052 – The 7 Levers of Business Redux

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