Man is still responsible. He mast turn the alloy of modern experience into the steel of mastery and character. His success lies not with the stars, but with himself He must carry on the fight of self-correction and discipline. -Frank Curtis Williams

In today's world, having a stress-filled daily schedule is normal to most people. It seems that we have a million things to do and only a short rime in which to do them. Most people want to improve their health, relationship, financial state, and quality of life, but fail to realize that the answer lies within. The only answer to gaining control of our lives in this day and age is harness-ing the power of self-discipline, building your self-esteem, and realizing you have the power of choice.
To see this ability in ourselves and live by these means is very difficult for many people. It is so easy, so enticing, so utterly pleasurable to let our minds toil and hide in everyday tasks. We decide to shut our eyes to the possibility of having more or leading a higher quality life, and we settle on the reality of our day-to-day conditions and circumstances. It is the plight of the everyday lamb, who fails to notice that inside lurks a predator of success. For some people, it takes nothing more than reading and understanding this concept, and for others it takes much more.

Thus begins your first step in a long journey. Throughout this book you will learn many powerful techniques to help you understand and develop discipline and control that is fast asleep inside you, waiting to be unleashed and experienced. You must understand that simply wanting something is not enough you must define, plan, focus, and schedule specific actions that you will take to have what you desire. The amazing power of control can alter your life. By simply understanding the process and forces at work in the human body and mind, you will have the greatest chance of success in your quest for self-discipline. Use the powerful techniques that you will learn in this hook to prepare a personal battle plan for achieving your desires, wants, and goals.

Many times throughout my career as a Navy SEAL. I have come across circumstances where personal discipline meant life or death. One of those times was deep in the Amazon jungles of Peru. As a SEAL Team sniper, I found myself living in a small native Indian fishing village on the hanks of the Amazon River. I was there working with a handful of Peruvian Special Forces snipers on advanced jungle-warfare tactics. We had set up our small camp in the confines of the fishing village and were warmly received by the local people. These people give new meaning to the terms resourcefulness and resolve. I have always believed that if every American teenager had the opportunity to spend just a few days with these people, they, would have such a great sense of appreciation for the comforts we enjoy that they would never look at life the same way again.

One morning I accompanied a hunting party on a three-day trip to bring back food. We loaded into tiny, hand-hewed canoes called cuyukas" and began the 12-hour paddle up the Amazon to camp in the heart of their fishing and hunting grounds. After we set up our primitive camp, the older men slowly waded waist-deep into the shaded part of the inlet and the younger men moved out into the sun-drenched area. The younger men, who had to deal with the strong current, were immediately surrounded by hordes of mosquitoes, flies, and bees. I watched the older men spear fish after fish and the younger men struggle to stay, still in the current and deal with the massive amount of flying insects. As I grabbed my spear and headed toward the older men, who obviously had the better deal, one of the elders looked up and waved for me to join the younger men. To the amusement of the older men, I immediately began swatting the thousands of flying bugs now making a meal out of me while floundering around in the strong current Since I considered myself somewhat of a logical man, I quickly made my way to the comfort of the shaded area and let out a big sigh of relief. After the laughter had died down, one of the Peruvian Special Forces soldiers told me that the younger men were made to fish this way in order to build their discipline and concentration. This ancient tradition was in fact a training exercise for the Younger men Later that evening, I noticed that the younger men slept on the ground while the elders slept comfortably in hammocks strung from the trees. Finally, after several days of observing what seemed to be useless torture, I asked one of the elders to explain the purpose behind these ancient ways. Ile told me that the entire village depended upon the men's hunting and fishing skills and without the ability to stay disciplined no matter the distraction, the village would go hungry. He went on to explain that if a man could stand still and spear fish in a current with thousands of bugs eating him, then he had mastered his weaknesses and would be a good provider during lean times.

To most people, this way of life may sound brutal or inhuman, but to these people personal discipline and self-control is the difference between life and death. I have come to understand that, in our society, the ability of a person to take control of their actions, thoughts, and words is the difference between success and failure, happiness and depression, and health and sickness. The good news is that we don't have to endure hordes of biting bugs or meditate for hours on end to build self-discipline and take control of our lives. The bad news is that we live in a society where instant gratification, comfort, and overindulgence reign supreme. It's not easy to gain control of our lives when our senses are so bombarded with images, words, and ideas about having everything all the time. It's not easy to control our health when fast-food restaurants occupy every street corner or control our behavior in a society that lives for entertainment.

Today, everybody seems perplexed as to why- young children are gunning down their classmates in school, when 75% of the television shows they watch and video games they play are filled with murder, sex, violence, drugs, and fantasy. They grow up in a society where seven out of ten marriages end in divorce and where concepts like honor, integrity, and discipline have been replaced by money, freedom of expression, and overindulgence. Each year we continue to build new prisons to accommodate the overwhelming number of people who have lost the battle of personal control. We have become so inundated by the concept of wealth that our low-income families are spending more money on the lottery than on educating their children. Don't got me wrong; we live in the greatest society this planet has ever seen and it is an absolutely exciting time to be alive, but now more than ever, we need to develop a sense of control.

Throughout history, successful people have bad one obvious thing in com-mon: self-discipline. High achievers are always willing to do things that average humans are unwilling to do. But how does one define self-disciplines' According to Websters Dictionary, discipline is defined as:
Training that corrects, molds or perfects; Control gained by obedience or training; To train or develop by the exercise of self-control; A system of rules governing conduct.

From this we can gather that self-discipline is:
A personal system of rules that govern our individual words, thoughts, and actions. A personal system of training that establishes self-control and corrects, molds. and perfects our daily performance.
Self-discipline is the ability to regulate your conduct by principle, per-sistence, and sound judgment rather than by desire or social acceptance. The achievement of anything of value requires such discipline. The disciplined person sets goals. He or she is living a life of self-discipline and control for the purpose of reaching his or her daily, monthly, yearly, and lifelong goals. Many people don't set daily goals, they just live from day to day and complain about how unfair life is. The self-disciplined person moves deliberately each day toward something specific. What are your everyday and lifelong goals?

Self-discipline is not related to punishment. It is pure, sustained self-control. From recorded history, self-discipline has been responsible for the improvement of all mankind. Self-discipline has enabled scholars to discover breakthroughs in medicine, chemistry, physics, computers, and all other fields. Self-discipline has empowered warriors with the ability to fight against oppression and for freedom. It has blessed artists, writers, composers, and musicians with the persistence to complete beautiful works of art. It has ele-vated athletes to the top of their sports. It has allowed average men and women to overcome tremendous obstacles in their personal journeys to hap-piness, wealth, and success. It builds character, self-esteem, morals, courage, and honor in everyday people.
We cannot expect success and true happiness without building each as-pect of our lives with self-discipline, control, and integrity. No one can have anything of lasting value without personal discipline. Self-discipline is the backbone of a successful, happy, and long life. Personal discipline brings prosperity, strong character, and freedom into our lives.

It is through self-discipline that we set an example for our children, spouses, coworkers, and all others to see and admire. It is the essence of our character and the result of our thoughts, actions, and words. Learning effective discipline can set you free and reward you beyond your wildest dreams. At one time or another in your life, you have probably experienced the freedom and pride that comes from self-discipline. When you inject discipline, self-control, and persistence into your daily life, you open the door to a realm of limitless achievement and power.

The fact remains that unless you are a Buddhist monk or from another planet, you probably think, talk, and act in a certain way because you are af fected by certain human desires, wants, and needs. The problems begin when we have no system of controlling and directing these driving forces. The power of self-discipline is the ability we all have that is capable of guiding these driving forces in the direction of our goals. These powerful driving forces can become overwhelming when they are left to chance or uncontrolled.

The Seven Driving Forces
1. "I am overworked and underpaid!"
"I want more MONEY!"
2. "I am fat and out of shape!"
I want to be ATTRACTIVE
3. "My life is so hectic and stressful!"
"I want more CONTROL!
4. "I hate my job
I want a satisfying CAREER!
5. "My personal life is a nightmare!"
I want to be LOVED!"
6. "Nobody listens to me!"
"I want to be RESPECTED!"
7. "I just can't seem to get anywhere!"
With the advent of increasing technological wonders, the need for a personal system of checks and balances has become even more critical. The pace of life has increased so dramatically that our lives can spin out of control before we even realize it. In order to better understand the consequences of living without self-discipline, let's take a look at some of today's human performance statistics related to these driving forces.

81% of all American families live in debt.
One in every 200 Americans files for bankruptcy
Today's midlevel drug dealer makes .$120,000, and a teacher $30,000
Today's porn star makes around $200,000, and a policeman $35,000.
SOURCE Federal Reserve System Annual Report/American Bankruptcy Int.e

The average American consumes over 22 pounds of sugar, 24 gallons of alcohol, 52 gallons of soft drinks, and 261 hounds of meat each year.
A shocking 52% of Americans are medically overweight.
The top three items purchased at supermarkets in 1994 were Marlboro cigarettes, Coca-Cola Classic, and Kraft processed Cheese.
The average American consumes approximately 3,600 calories a day. A Healthy adult requires only 2,500 to 2,700 calories a day.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 28.1 % of adults over 18 years of age have mental disorders. In 1999, there were, over 32 million reported cases of AIDS.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/ National Center For Health and Statistics/1999 Wall Street Journal Almanac.

In 1998, theft, employee error, and fraud cost $43 million to the retail industry alone.
There were 600 workplace-related murders last year. 21 % of all violent assaults occurred on the job
SOURCE U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

EEvery four seconds a violent crime is committed, and every nine seconds a murder is committed.
The average American household watches 50.1 hours of television per week or approximately 7.2 hours of television each day.
According to a 1997 University of Michigan study, 22.1% of all eighth- and 42.4% of all high school seniors used illicit drugs regularly.
SOURCE U.S. Justice Department /Nielsen Media Reasrch /University of Michigan

IIn the United States today seven out of ten marriages will end in divorce. Marital violence and rape are at epidemic proportions.

In 1998, 32.4% of all children in the United States were born to unmarried women
SOURCE National Center for Health and Statistics / The Joint United Nations Programme on Aids
These statistics are not meant to leave you with the impression that everything is hopeless and beyond help. In fact, there is more good in the world than bad. However, the fact remains that we are quickly spinning out of control and need to rediscover the power of discipline before things really get crazy. Along with all of the new freedoms and wonders that technology brings into our lives, it also provides us with many, more choices. It is a universal law of human nature that with more choices come more mistakes, and with more mistakes come greater problems in our lives.

Become Organized
A good place to start in the journey to taking control can be found in your home. Set aside one day this week to clear out the clutter and organize your prossessions. Brew the coffee, roll up your sleeves, and get busy with the tasl of organizing and cleaning every room in your house.

Everything in life is a matter of choice. There are only two things in life in which we have no choice. We cannot change these two facts of life no matter how hard we try. The first unchangeable fact is that we must die. Death is an absolute fact. The second fact is that we must live a certain number of years before we die. Now understand this everything else in your life is the result of your power to choose. Everything that you say, think, wear, drive, eat, read, watch, and do is a personal choice made by you. We live in the confines of what we call "our life" because we have created this existence through our individual ability to mike choices..

Examine where you are in your life. Where you are is where you have chosen to be. Consciously or unconsciously, you have made this your life by choice. Understand that certain universal laws of human nature are at play in your life. Throughout my experiences as a Navy SEAL, consultant, and corporate speaker, I have been blessed with the opportunity to help people improve the quality of their life by understanding two basic laws of human performance. These two basic laws, the law of effort and the law of choices, must be understood and acknowledged before any real changes can he made a person's overall performance in life.

The Law of Effort
The law of effort simply states that anything worth having in life requires effort, and the greater the goal, the greater the required effort. The difference between those who achieve their goals and those who don't usually comes down to effort. Achievement comes only to those who continually give maximum effort and persist through every adversity. Is your life working out the way you dreamed it would? Do you have the things you would like to have? Are you where you would like to be? Do you have the house, body, job, checking account, relationship, or character that you always wanted? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then let's take a look at the second universal law of nature.
The law of choices states that our lives are what we choose them to be and that every circumstance is a product of these decisions. Most of us are flying to become successful, trying to become happy, or wealthy, or loved, or to gain something from life that is presently not there. These can be summed up as dreams, and the choices we make each day are either a step toward our dreams or a step away from them. This is tire power of choice. The ability to know what you want in life, and then make correct choices based upon these wants, is called goal setting. Goal setting is simply- making choices based upon a desired result. It is knowing where you want to go. If you are not achieving what you are capable of achieving, it is because your goals are not clearly defined. Having goals is one thing, but having a plan to achieve them is another. Your success in any project will be determined largely by your in plan of action. The power of choice is tire one control mechanism we possess that advertising, television, music, and outside influence try to wrestle from its. When yon see people wearing a certain popular style of clothing, or listening to a Certain type of music, or eating a certain type of food, you can see the influence that society has over their power of choice. When we lack self-disci pline, our ability to make correct decisions based upon our needs and wants, and not those of society, becomes very weak. It is essential to our personal success and happiness that we continue this chain of self-discipline, correct decision-making, and self-esteem.

There is a direct connection between the power of choice and our self worth. As we develop self-discipline and condition ourselves to make correct choices, we in turn increase our self-esteem. Self-discipline enables us to win small victories each day over our habits, urges, and compulsive behavior. The more good choices we make, the more positive our self-esteem becomes. As our self-esteem builds, we begin to develop powerful momentum in the direction of our goals.

Just as the chain reaction of good choices leads to increased self-esteem and self-discipline, the momentum of poor choices leads to depression. obesity, and poor daily performance. Have you ever had a bad day where you woke up and didn't feel on top of the world? You decide to skip your morn exercise session, trade a healthy breakfast for coffee and donuts, and eat fast food for lunch. By the time dinner rolls around, you feel so depressed and lethargic from your poor decisions that you decide to plop in front of the television instead of working on your goals. The next morning you wake up feeling even more depressed and continue with this cycle of poor choices.

I don't believe there is a person alive who has not experienced this cycle of poor

Author's Bio: 

MICHAEL A. JANKE is a professional speaker, author of Power Living, and founder of Special Operations Consulting. He has over twelve years' experience as a Navy SEAL team commando and is an internationally recognized expert on the topics of self-discipline, teamwork, and individual performance. Each year he helps thousands of people improve their lives through his books, audiotapes, and speaking presentations. Born and raised on a small farm in northwestern Pennsylvania, MICHAEL A. JANKE studied ancient philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh and joined the Navy after graduation. He now lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his wife, Athena.