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Posted 26th March 2024

Mastering the Art of Discipline: The Correlation Between Mindset, Habit, and Business Success

Countless studies have highlighted the strong correlation between self-discipline and business success. One such study, published by the University of Pennsylvania, concluded that those with high levels of self-discipline are more likely to be goal-orientated, focused, and organised individuals, leading to both personal and professional success.

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Mastering the Art of Discipline: The Correlation Between Mindset, Habit, and Business Success
Business leadership

By Gary Das, the Founder and Director of Active Success

Countless studies have highlighted the strong correlation between self-discipline and business success. One such study, published by the University of Pennsylvania, concluded that those with high levels of self-discipline are more likely to be goal-orientated, focused, and organised individuals, leading to both personal and professional success. Indeed, you only need to look at some of the world’s most famous and accomplished entrepreneurs to understand the important role that self-discipline plays in achieving success. In a Q&A session, Bill Gates, for example, said that he had to kick the ‘very bad habit’ of procrastination that he had developed while studying at Harvard after entering the world of business. By pledging to maintain focus and discipline at all times – even in the face of many distractions – Gates was able to pursue his business goals, and become one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world.

But how exactly can an entrepreneur hope to master the art of habit and discipline? Indeed, procrastination is one thing, but the day-to-day challenges involved with running a business can themselves often serve to steer leaders off-piste. By integrating the following actions, entrepreneurs can not only become masters of the art of self-discipline, but also drive resulting personal and professional success.

Habits for good

According to research conducted by Weber State University, nearly half [45%] of our daily actions are shaped by habit. On the face of it, this might sound like a bad thing. After all, the word ‘habit’ often comes with negative connotations – something you do that is either harmful to yourself and others, or otherwise an irritating idiosyncrasy. In reality, however, good habits can replace the need for daily motivation, meaning the steps or processes that help us to achieve success and move our businesses forward will come naturally. On average, it can take up to two months before a good behaviour becomes habitual, but this can vary from person to person. Some sources cite that at least 90 days are needed before a new habit becomes a positive and permanent lifestyle change.

When it comes to setting new habits, three Rs are the order of the day – Reminder, Routine, and Reward. Put simply, if you can remind yourself to stick to a routine, you will inevitably reap the reward that comes with doing so. This can be integrated by setting clear goals, creating dedicated cue or reminder-based plans, and ensure that this is repeatable. It’s also advisable to have someone or something to keep you accountable. For example, a partner, family member, or friend can monitor your activity and ensure that you don’t give into distraction, while keeping a daily diary can also provide motivation to make consistent progress on your goals.

Become a ‘no’ person

‘No’ is another word that gets a bad rap, particularly in social circles. After all, consistently turning down invitations to socialise with friends and families is likely to illicit a negative response from others, while telling someone that they can’t do something they’d like to can paint you as something of a party pooper, depending on the circumstances. In business, however, saying ‘no’ is one of the most important strategies for achieving growth. From declining inadequate candidates to time-consuming meetings and irrelevant networking events, getting comfortable with the word ‘no’ can be incredibly liberating for entrepreneurs, enabling them to place more value on their own efforts to drive meaningful business success.

It may be a difficult practice to master – especially if you’re the kind of person who’s predisposed to saying ‘yes’ – but telling people ‘no’ can be a demonstration of self-discipline at its best in business. It can empower business leaders to stop and think about each decision that they make, and commit themselves to things that really matter to, or are likely to positively impact, their business.

Delegate, then delegate some more

Business leaders often get trapped into the mindset that no-one else is able to deliver work to the same standard as themselves. Being the person who built the company from day one, letting go of work and responsibilities to someone else can feel like an alien concept. In reality though, failing to delegate can stifle both an entrepreneur’s personal growth, as well as that of their business. This is corroborated by recent research from Gallup, which found that, of the 143 Inc. 500 CEOs surveyed, those with high delegator talent posted an average three-year growth rate of 1,751%. This was 112% greater than those CEOs who were shown to have limited or low delegator talent.

As such, it’s clear that business leaders must adopt new delegation frameworks, and have the self-discipline to commit to them, if they hope to be successful and drive continued growth. Such frameworks might include the 80/20 Rule – which maintains that 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts – the 70-20-10 Rule – which encourages entrepreneurs to achieve a ratio of 70% challenging experiences, 20% developmental relationships, and 10% training – or the Eisenhower Matrix – a philosophy that helps you to organise and prioritise tasks by urgency and importance. Business leaders should experiment with different frameworks to settle on one that works for them.

Being disciplined isn’t easy, but it is rewarding

Mastering the art of self-discipline is no easy feat, but for those who make the effort to do so, it can be incredibly rewarding. By embracing positive habits and consistent routines, learning when to say ‘no’ to time-wasting distractions, and letting go of the reins to delegate to others, business leaders can achieve the level of self-discipline that’s needed to be a success, and pull ahead of the competition.

Categories: Leadership, News


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