The Role of Discipline

At the annual TIA conference in Tucson, Arizona, I attended a seminar presented by a high caliber business speaker and consultant, Dave Yoho. Given a copy of his book Have a Great Year Every Year, I was introduced to Mr. Yoho’s EPOD theory –





I wanted to jump on the first three parts of the Yoho theory and run with them; I could apply those three things easily. However, I was most struck by the Discipline aspect of his theory. It really hit home and made me think anew.

Doing Things You Don’t Like to Do

One definition in the book was that discipline is “doing many things you don’t like to do, yet doing most of them well.” I found this statement enlightening.

It is easy to enthusiastically approach the responsibilities that I enjoy or with which I am comfortable. But what about those skills or desires that are sub-optimal?

Reflecting on my path, both personal and professional, discipline has been requisite to growth. You do indeed need to do things those things at which you may struggle, as well as those at which you excel.

Someone once said that goals are dreams with deadlines. Earlier in my career, I had spent much time dreaming of how things should be. But I failed to take the long road to make the changes happen. Dreams of greatness cannot be realized until action takes place.

During growth periods, many companies bring in consultants at significant expense and disruption to outline a business plan. They applaud the components of the plan. Just what they need. Then they do not use the discipline necessary to follow through with the plan. What a good time to realize that discipline is necessary.

For Matchmaker today, on the way to becoming an industry leader, discipline converts dreams into goals, plans and finally execution.

Doing Things Differently

In the book Who Moved My Cheese, one set of mice bemoaned the lessening supply of cheese, while never venturing from their routine to secure more cheese. Doing things differently requires discipline. It is absolutely necessary when a shift is needed from what used to be successful. It takes discipline to get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and your teammates to think in new ways, use new tools, ask new questions, learn and grow.

Perseverance takes discipline. The key is not allowing temporary setbacks to divert attention from the long term plan. Today, we might need to fight a medical virus, a computer virus, a revenue stream ending, an unexpected expense or a dearth of available equipment. Tomorrow, we may need simply to fight off complacency when things are so magically synchronized that it seems we have the Midas touch.

How do leaders walk the talk?

Our own discipline needs to be invoked when we are tempted by the pressures of the here-and-now to shortchange our long term objectives. We summon discipline to fight off the barriers that would detour us from our goals. What makes us extraordinary is consistently doing the little things better and taking the time to do what’s necessary for continuous improvement – like taking the time to train new personnel; reinforcing the details when it is so much easier to just look the other way.

Only the Best

Pruning the tree as we grow also takes discipline. Not everyone who passes our hiring process is allowed to stay on as an employee. Only the best stay in place here at Matchmaker. To be an industry leader, we rely on a stellar staff and every link in the chain must be strong. We use exemplary discipline to keep it this way.

Leaders must do what needs to be done. Some things to me are tedious, frustrating and not the best use of my time. With other tasks, time flies by while I ace the test. Not coincidentally, my strengths lie with the stuff that is easy to me.

The key to successfully growing the company is to balance those strengths with the discipline to “do those things I don’t like to do, but do them well.”