My father gets his sense of discipline from the military; he's a retired veteran. I never had the urge to join the military - goes against my pacifist nature - but I do have to admire the discipline that the military instills in its troops. Along with the weapons training, and war games, the Privates are taught basic health disciplines to make sure they are taking care of themselves, and to make the connection that without their health they cannot survive in the battlefield.
Here is my list of the 7 basic daily disciplines from the military that we should all instill in our own lives:
1. Wake up at the crack of dawn: My father still gets up at the crack of dawn. It's hard to give up this habit I guess. The discipline to wake up early and to go to bed at the same time everyday forces you to make the most of your day. I don't know about you, I've never gotten anything done on the days that I slept in, and I never feel productive if I don't get enough sleep.
2. Bounce a quarter off your bed: I love the fact that the Privates have to make their own beds. From a psychological point of view, when I make my bed each morning, I am telling myself, "Sleeping time is over, and waking time has begun." If you have the attitude, "Well, it's gonna get slept in anyway, so why bother," well, that's a very defeatist attitude. How is that productive?
3. Take pride in your uniform: I find it fascinating that Privates have to clean their own uniforms. It makes a lot of sense though. You want the Privates to have a sense of pride in their appearance, and pride in the uniform they wear. I used to work in retail, so I know what it's like to wear a uniform, and I took pride in mine. I always washed my uniforms, and ironed my uniforms myself. Co-workers who didn't care about their uniforms always dumbfounded me. It didn't surprise me, of course, that these same people were the one's least likely to care about their jobs.
4. Clean your footlocker and gear: A good Private will be able tell you exactly what is in their footlocker and where it is placed. A good Private also keeps their equipment (e.g. rifle) well oiled and cleaned. Knowing where everything is and making sure everything is working properly is not just about cleanliness; it's about efficiency. Think about how many long it takes for you to find that one piece of paper on your messy desk. How many times did you have to run to the store at the last second because you forgot to check the ink levels in your printer? In the military, those extra few seconds to find their knife, or a weapon jamming up on them literally means life or death.
5. Check under your fingernails: Even with all the daily grime of military life, a Private must maintain good grooming skills. They clean their nails, wash their hair, and brush their teeth. This is probably more from a disease prevention protocol than anything else. From a psychological point of view, if you don't care about your own health, you are basically saying you don't care about yourself. I hope you are not the type of solopreneur that stays in her jammies and doesn't shower all day. If you don't take care of yourself, how do you expect to maintain a well functioning businesss?
6. Eat your vegetables: The military provides three healthy meals to its troops each day, and tries to ensure that the Privates eat all their food. The good may not be gourmet, but they are nutritious. To the military, food is fuel, and without fuel, a Private won't stand a chance on the battlefield. I have to admit, there have been times where I got so busy, I forgot to eat. I have resorted to scheduling my breaks and lunches to make sure I get fuel in my body. Eating well, and eating on time is a discipline that we should all instill in ourselves.
7. Jog five miles: Somehow, our society has settled for grocery shopping as a being "active". I call it being busy. Carrying a giant log over an obstacle course, now that's active. Being physically active means intentionally exercising. We can't work if we aren't healthy, and if we aren't exercising, we're not healthy. Whether it is jogging or walking, to be fit on a basically level, we need to traverse at least five miles a day, or be on our feet for one hour a day, or take about ten thousand steps a day. Don't guess at how many steps you're taking; buy a pedometer.
The above list mainly revolves around maintaining good health. Without good health we simply cannot function. A Private who can't maintain these basic daily disciplines doesn't stand a chance in boot camp, let alone on the field. A person who cannot maintain these daily disciplines doesn't stand a chance of productive in the battlefield of daily life. To be successful, you have to lead a productive life. To be productive, you have to be disciplined about your health.
Young B. Kim is a writer, artist, serial entrepreneur, and the creator of ideavist™. Young's mission is to help people make their ideas happen through his writing, coaching, consultations, and through speaking engagements on ideation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.
Read more of his articles, visit www.ideavist.com