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Do You Have Self-Discipline?

Posted May 22 2009 11:55pm

Flying Dragon: Chinese Symbol of Success and Good Luck. Photo Credit
What are our chances of success without self-discipline? Our children's chances? The author of the article I've reproduced here says: "What makes for happy and successful kids are kids who know how to handle disappointment, who can delay gratification and who persist at a task," Walsh said. The key to reaching that goal is having courage to tell kids, "No."
Also:"One of the things that I have to learn how to do if I want to grow up is I have to learn how to deal with frustration," Walsh explained. "I have to learn how to bounce back after a disappointment. Well, how will I do that if I never get any practice?"

Learn from Lee Iacocca and business guru Jim Collins in the article I saw in the Indy Star:

by Bill Stanczykiewicz

An important principle for running a successful business also is essential for raising a well-adjusted child.

According to management guru Jim Collins, businesses that rise to the top stick to a core product or service. New opportunities are viewed through the lens of that primary activity. Companies that stay disciplined within their main mission tend to grow and be successful. Businesses that wander tend to enjoy less long-term success and even fail.

In his best-seller "Good to Great," Collins summarizes, "The good-to-great companies at their best followed a simple mantra: We will not launch unrelated businesses. We will not make unrelated acquisitions. We will not do unrelated joint ventures. If it doesn't fit, we don't do it. Period."

In effect, successful companies know when to say, "No." And that is the same trait required of parents and other concerned adults when raising children.

Dr. David Walsh is a child and family psychologist and a spokesman for the American Medical Association. In his new book, "No: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It," Walsh argues that the simple two-letter word makes a major difference in the life of a child.

"If kids don't hear, 'No,' that starts to eat away at the key success factor for them, and that is self-discipline. And part of what we're starting to see now is an epidemic of what I call DDD, Discipline Deficit Disorder." Walsh, who taught high school for 10 years, says that self-discipline is twice as influential as intelligence for being successful in school.

"What makes for happy and successful kids are kids who know how to handle disappointment, who can delay gratification and who persist at a task," Walsh said. The key to reaching that goal is having courage to tell kids, "No."

Instead, Walsh has encountered too many parents who do not have that word in their vocabulary. "A lot of parents start to think our job is to make kids happy all the time. So we end up being non-stop entertainment committees. We get kids more than they need and in some instances even more than they want.

"The problem," Walsh continued, "is that kids start to develop a sense of entitlement, and their expectations get swollen. All of those things really don't make for happy and successful kids."
Walsh encourages parents to allow children to gradually gain more responsibilities and to learn from their experiences, successes and failures. These opportunities for growth, however, need to occur within limits -- limits established by the word, "No."

"One of the things that I have to learn how to do if I want to grow up is I have to learn how to deal with frustration," Walsh explained. "I have to learn how to bounce back after a disappointment. Well, how will I do that if I never get any practice?"

The unique benefits of parents who set boundaries are confirmed by the kids themselves. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health surveyed more than 100,000 American students who told the researchers that they need involved parents and connections with their families to make healthy choices, feel secure and become successful. Parents who encourage, yet parents who also set limits.

In "Good to Great," Collins tells the story of Lee Iacocca's leadership of Chrysler. In the early days, Iacocca instilled strong discipline into the corporation. He overhauled the management structure, instituted stricter financial controls and strengthened quality control measures. As a result, Chrysler turned away from the brink of disaster and enjoyed spectacular results.

But then Iacocca diverted his attention elsewhere. He chaired the Statue of Liberty renovation, joined a congressional commission examining the federal budget and wrote a syndicated newspaper column. Iacocca moved Chrysler into the unrelated aerospace industry and formed a partnership with the maker of rare, luxury sports cars.

Iacocca started saying "yes" to many activities that had nothing to do with the disciplined approach he used during his early years at Chrysler. The company suffered as a result, facing bankruptcy once again.

Knowing when to say "no." That's a business lesson from which parents and their children can profit.




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