A Matter of Simple Discipline

A few days ago my wife and I were walking from Target to our car when we heard a disturbing conversation taking place behind us. We never turned around to engage the people behind us so I can’t say for sure if they were employees of that Target store or not. If the one guy was, my sympathy goes out towards the managers.

This young man was complaining about the poor work review his managers gave him. Not only that, but he was using inappropriate language so casually in his discussion that he probably uses such words in his speech even when he isn’t angry. His complaint was that he got a poor review “even after all I’ve done for the company.” Yet in his very next breath he admits to being late frequently and taking long breaks.

Are you kidding me!? Is this the world we live in today? This guy is really upset about his bad review “after all he has done for the company” even though he is late to work a lot and takes long breaks? I can almost guarantee that if he did the bare minimum required but arrived on time and took shorter breaks, his review probably would have been much better, and that’s assuming he actually did his job. I’m not even sure he is aware that showing up on time is considered a part of your job in most companies.

I remember when I first began working security for Johns Hopkins Baview Medical Center, one of the lieutenants came in to give a speech to our class of new officers. The speech could be condensed into three simple steps to succeed at your job:

1. Show up for work (and on time)

2. Look good in your uniform

3. Do your job

This seems pretty self-evident and simple if you ask me, especially the first part. Nothing else really matters if you don’t show up for work, especially on time. Even back when I took buses everywhere I was always early for work or other appointments because I knew the value of being on time. No one was going to wait for me to show up.

Yet there are people in the world who don’t seem to comprehend this concept. How can you consider yourself to be doing a good job when you aren’t actially there to do your job when you are supposed to be there?

When I was taking Tae Kwon Do classes at Kim’s Karate back sometime around 7th grade, we had to do ten or twenty push-ups when we showed up late for class. It didn’t even matter why you were late.

Let’s put this into perspective: I wasn’t even old enough to drive. My parents had to drive me to class. If I was late, I still had to do the required push ups before joining class. I couldn’t blame my parents for getting me there late and they couldn’t do the push ups for me. That’s kind of a silly notion if you think about it. Some people may think this is unfair, but I disagree. It taught me two very valuable lessons.

Lesson number one was the importance of being on time. Lesson number two was that excuses are unacceptable. I recall hearing Tom Bilyeu (co founder of Quest Nutrition and the host of the Impact Theory podcast) say recently that the most dangerous thing about excuses is the legitimacy behind many of them. Even a legitimate excuse is still an excuse.

We live on a world now where too many people believe that the world owes them something. They think the governmemt should take care of them just because they didn’t ask to be born in the first place. News flash: Life itself is a gift and no one else owes you a damn thing. What you do with your life is up to what you do with the life you’ve been given. This includes the decisions you make and how you handle the circumstances you find yourself in, because not all situations are unavoidable. What makes or breaks you is how you deal with things. Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular with young people in the 1980’s? You make your choices based on the facts presented and how you process them. That, plus your gut instinct, can get you very far in life and ultimately make it more fulfilling

There is no better place to learn this lesson than training in the martial arts or really any physical activity, especially  competitive team sports. Part of this is because you are responsible to your coach as well as to your teammates and school (or state or country depending on the level of competition). If you have trouble with a technique or movement, your only option is to practice it until you get it right. No excuses.

Of course, this also means showing up for practice. Top athletes show up on time, but the best of the best show up early to work on their basic skill set or improve where they feel weak. For example, athletes such as Kobe Bryant would  would show up two hours early for practice. I don’t think I have to tell you who Kobe Bryant is. His work ethic may appear extreme to most people, yet here is my slam dunk point: most people will never reach his level of success because they don’t have his work ethic. I don’t think most people have much of a work ethic any more.

When someone complains about getting a bad review “after all they have done for the company” when they don’t even put in the effort to show up on time (or at all), I can’t help but be a little appalled at this mentality. After I got into the car with my wife we talked about the conversation we heard using language even worse than the guy behind us was using because I was so angry. I was able to use restraint and clean up my language when I wrote this because I have a set of standards I try to maintain in my blogs. It is a  matter of simple discipline. You know, like showing up on time for your job.


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