Why is discipline now my foremost value?

What was the problem?

I had a flaw in my philosophy, in my personal mindset which I finally discovered and begun to fix. Consequently, my life is changing and transforming for the better! I was missing the key ingredient, the cornerstone, the foundation to transforming vision into reality. I did not have true discipline!

Essentially, I did not understand, apply and live discipline. I was ignorant! I did not know what I didn’t know. You may not either and I wouldn’t blame you. The missing piece to my puzzle was thanks to Jocko Willink’s podcast. the insights gained enabled me to reflect on my past failures and successes. Through his exploration of human nature, war and life, I learned what sacrifice has been paid and is still being paid for my freedom. I gained perspective! I understand and continue to learn that I am blessed beyond measure.

Living in the developed world with most of human knowledge at our fingertips via the internet, with food conveniently found at the local supermarket and with minimal or no threat to our person, how do we find time to complain? Why did I still blame instead of take extreme ownership? It’s absurd and a testament to the irrationality of the human condition. Relatively speaking, my challenges and most likely yours are almost insignificant compared to those who are entrapped in the darkness of this world. There are people who are starving at this moment in time. Some are being tortured. Others still are dying! Yet we in the light tend to forget or underestimate the evil and darkness that exists on our planet.

Discipline is the solution?!

How could I not be disciplined after internalising the stark reality from Jocko’s wisdom and the books which he investigates? Compared to the harsh experience of those who have lived before me and a significant number of people now, choosing discipline is a no-brainer! For so long, I had the misconception that discipline was like the yoke on an ox. I had fallen for the subliminal message that pain or discomfort was unnecessary, unwarranted and useless. Looking at the definition of discipline, it sounds strenuous, like a chore, almost unnatural, a punishment. How could I be so wrong? No one had ever told me the truth or if they did, not in a way that I understood the significance of what they were saying.

At first glance, it seems like a quality that could only be of use in the military or in some old-style Victorian era school. However, like with many things in life, appearances can be deceiving and I firmly believe that is the case here. Let me give an example. Suppose you have a long term goal that will require sustained effort. All well and good. You have a plan, a schedule to achieve that goal. It’s the start of your endeavour to change, you’re most likely feeling…enthused, at worst motivated. Classic example would be signing up to the gym after New Year’s festivities. Fast forward a few months and you’ve been to the gym a grand total of 7 times and it’s already the start of May. What could have gone wrong? You are nowhere near where you envisioned yourself being at this moment in time.

What happened? A strategy is great until you add in…you guessed it…real life. All sorts of things will come up…which you didn’t account for and in the moment, you will create an alibi, you will procrastinate, you will make an excuse and you will rationalise it all! After all, there’s always tomorrow, right? Except, tomorrow never comes! How can you fix this? How can you sustain the desire and action that will take you from now to the ideal you?

The answer is simple but not easy to implement. It’s discipline. Not discipline like you most likely know it. What is discipline? How is this discipline different? How is it defined? Simply, this discipline is freedom. It is the choice to be better in this moment. To take the high road. To embrace the strain, the challenge at hand. It is knowing that you have in you the strength to push and see your goal to it’s completion. It is an immersion in the process, it never ends. Day in, day out, come rain or shine. This discipline is about taking extreme ownership for yourself and your life. It’s about humility, knowing that whilst you have made some progress, you still have room for improvement. You can be stronger, faster and smarter. Why would you wait? This discipline is the super power that will ensure you get from A to B.

Final thoughts

Frankly, it’s hard for me to describe the mindset change, the paradigm shift I have experienced. All I can attest to is the ease with which I have begun to conquer my goals. It has certainly not been easy. It is one thing knowing better, it is entirely another thing doing better and the transition took a few months. For those who are intrigued enough by my words, I highly encourage you to check out Jocko’s podcast and keep an open mind. For those who are already living the disciplined life, let’s continue to get after it!

Fighting to carpe diem

The beginning

A few days before the end of 2015, I established what I believe is a crucial basis of a successful life. At the start it was tough to adhere to with some occasional truancies from the well-chosen habits. However, I am now at a point where not doing it is abhorrent! Why do I feel this way? Simply because the benefits have a powerful impact on the happiness and productivity I obtain from the day.

Below is the routine I’ve created and optimised through non-trivial experimentation and reflection:

System

  1. Body sculpting (commonly known as working out) – 1 hour
  2. Shower & grooming – 30 minutes
  3. Breakfast – 30 minutes
  4. Meditation – 15 minutes
  5. Foundation – 15 minutes
  6. Reflection – 15 minutes
    • Journal 5 things I’m grateful for
    • Journal my emotions
    • Journal my experiences
  7. Strategy – 15 minutes

Benefits

Since starting to make the above system an integral part of my life, I have noticed that I am always mentally enthused, emotionally calmer, spiritually serene and physically energetic throughout the day. My productivity has significantly improved as measured by the number of pomodoros I complete. I find it much easier to adhere to the rest of my schedule whilst also being more flexible and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances!

Straining to master reality

Preamble

Today, I finally finished reading Cal Newport’s So good they can’t ignore you. It has been full of revelations to say the least. In terms of career development, I have learned the importance of obtaining rare and valuable skills to increase my career capital and consequently invest this power to build a fulfilling career.

My review:

So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You LoveSo Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A treasure in the sea of career advice books, So good they can’t ignore you debunks the passion hypothesis – matching pre-existing passions to a perfect job – and instead systematically constructs a logical, compelling and well researched strategy for career satisfaction.

The concise and easy to follow writing style serves as a humble pedestal for novel and paradigm shifting ideas. Structuring the content into 4 key rules enables the reader to conceptualise and effectively apply the ideas through self-reflection and necessary effort.

In terms of investments of time and money, I absolutely believe that this tome offers actionable intelligence of the highest calibre. Employing these critical tactics diligently will lead to stellar performance, saved time and a meaningful career. Undoubtedly, no library is complete without a copy of this guide. I honestly feel blessed to have gained such an insight into life so early and I look forward to observing the results in my own life!

View all my reviews

Conclusion

Consequently, I am changing my tag line from Coding to change reality to Straining to master reality to reflect the insights which I’m adopting in my quest to obtain the ultimate philosophy!

Process is key

Project

Today, I I started the data visualization beginner project on newcoder.io. I completed the setup necessary for the tutorials by getting pip (python install python) and getting started with python virtual environments courtesy of virtualenv. I really like being able to have an isolated development space where I can install packages without worrying about potential conflicts.

In terms of the tutorial, I finished coding up the parse section which means that from a CSV file, I can obtain a JSON-like object which is more amenable to manipulation within python. My plan is to complete each of the five tutorials before making my own projects based on what I’ve learned.

C/C++ and Haskell

With regards to my learning explorations in C, I am exploring an implementation of a linked list using pointers. With C++, I am progressing steadily through Programming principles and practice using C++ by Bjarne Stroustrup. I enjoy the fact that it reflects on the role that technology in society. One of the questions posed was ‘How many human activities can you think of which don’t involve a computational device either directly or indirectly?’. After pondering for a while, I was astounded by how embedded (haha) computers were in daily life. Sure, there are those without access to any devices but where access is available, even simple things like going for a walk involve trainers which were designed/manufactured in part using computers!

With Haskell, my main learning resource is Haskell: The craft of functional programming which I’m using to build a foundation before working through CS194: Introduction to Haskell according to the extremely learning path suggested here.

Philosophy

I am frankly irritated by the current state of my knowledge and by my lack of action. However, my philosophy has been affected by:

Whilst I am still reflecting on the wisdom of these treasures, I have decided to be realistic in the portrayal of this adventure. There is no point in waiting for substantial learning progress or for the grand post idea. Like developing software, learning is an actively iterative process. There are ups and there are downs, all of which are instrumental. Instead of focusing on the final product or destination, I will tinker, make and break. Perfection is impossible so I’ll just keep doing because excellence is achievable 😀

Positive actionable intelligence

Problem

We live in an unprecedented era where information is abundant, cheap and easy to access. With the internet and libraries, many have access to what is effectively a gold mine. However, taking advantage of this treasure is by no means easy. Why? We are overwhelmed. In our modern society, we are constantly under attack. From the news to radio, from twitter to hacker news, distraction is never more than a phone away.

In most people’s cases, the story is of consumption. Bites of knowledge which form no coherent discipline. Just article after unending article. I myself fell into the trap and have learned that more is not better. Quality does outweigh quantity. I look back on the information I have consumed and ask myself, “where is the action, where are the results?”. Unfortunately, I have nothing to show. Action has been the exception, rather than the norm.

This is wasteful and inefficient. Knowledge is being created at an exponential pace with everyone adding to the deluge. As the treasure mine grows, I must take advantage. I must take action.

Solution

As far as I’m concerned, knowledge without action is useless. Henceforth, I am going to adopt a positive actionable intelligence mindset. This means that I will seek and prioritise that which can be acted upon. I will break, tinker and hack ideas into digital reality!

Organising data creates information,
Processing information generates knowledge,
Applying knowledge builds skills,
Employing skills increases intelligence,
Reflecting with intelligence yields wisdom!

 

Blazing fearlessly

A wise man once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Those who savour insightful quotes will recognise the words of Lao Tzu. This is the first (somewhat public) step for me I feel should have taken been taken sooner…but I digress. That’s a story for another day.

I am on an adventure. This medium shall serve as my journal of the challenges I face, the opportunities I seize and the mistakes I look forward to making. I am doing this for me. If my words bring insight to even a single person, I will count it as a blessing.

At this period in my life, I am focused on a transformative learning endeavour which I’ve named The Ghost Protocol. Unlike the movie with a similar moniker, I will make my learning mission a reality.

The difficulty of this journey is staggering yet I believe surmountable. For too long, I have run away from greatness and squandered my time. No longer. This is my stake in the ground. No being, force or stroke of fate shall stop me. How do I know? It’s abecedarian really. I am my greatest enemy, the most frustrating puzzle that I need to solve.

Amusingly, I am also the solution. No excuses, no holding back, no fear. As a self-correcting system, it’s time to change and hopefully one day, achieve transcendence 😀