Home Thinking Aloud How To Develop Better Discipline That Sets The Tone For Success

How To Develop Better Discipline That Sets The Tone For Success


by Warren Rustand, ForbesBooks author of “The Leader Within Us: Mindset, Principles, and Tools for a LIFE BY DESIGN” 

What sets highly successful people apart from others? Searching the internet for the secret sauce results in many characteristics and theories.

But as a man who’ve spent 50 years as an accomplished CEO and mentored leaders across numerous industries, I believe the common denominator is discipline. All the leaders I know are highly disciplined. Their success and structure can be attributed to their habits and rituals. They have healthy and intentional daily patterns that affect them in a highly positive way. When you correct your mind, everything falls into place. Actions are who we are.

Here are some tips to develop better personal discipline as a springboard toward success:

Create your own morning routine.

When I do speaking engagements about leadership, he asks people about their morning habits. I get answers such as, “Walk the dog, check my cell phone, make coffee, turn on the TV.” And my response is, “None of the things you suggested prepare you for success that day.”

A morning routine that prepares one for success must fill them with positivity, so he suggests not starting the day with the TV news. For 45 years I use a 31-minute morning routine I call 1-10-10-10. The first minute is focused on determining my primary purpose for the day. I spend the next 10 minutes expressing gratitude. The second 10-minute period focuses on reading something inspirational. In the last 10 minutes, I write in a journal, detailing lessons learned as well as positive experiences. A morning journal also can benefit the person’s family when it is passed down through the years, inspiring and educating others.

If you’re going to commit to discipline, then start by implementing a morning routine. A good morning routine will lead to other healthier habits throughout the day and propel you toward success. Small changes really do turn your life around.

Prioritize exercise.

The body needs at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three to four times a week. Research suggests that exercise in the morning is more valuable than exercise in the afternoon. Fatigue and focus over the course of the day can keep you from maximizing your workout performance.

To maximize exercise, he suggests the following:

  1. Carving out consistent times throughout the week that fit around work and family schedules;
  2. Engaging in both cardio and weight training
  3. Setting goals in terms of calories burned, distance covered or time spent working out.

Around your mid-thirties you begin to lose lean muscle mass, and unless you’re rebuilding it you will continue to lose it. It’s important to raise your heart rate regularly. Choose the exercise pattern that’s best for you and the activities in which you want to engage.

Manage your time spent on social media.

Too often, people let technological devices like smartphones rob precious time from their work day. Often our instincts to use the device run in conflict with more important things we have to do. The cost to corporate America is truly significant – both in loss of productivity and in workers being paid while they’re posting on social media, having personal phone calls, and responding to non-work-related texts.

To practice better discipline in this area, I recommend:

  1. When starting your day, don’t check your cell phone until after completing your morning routine;
  2. Don’t view or engage in social media during the workday;
  3. Put the cell phone in your purse or pocket when working rather than leaving it sitting on your desk, tempting you;
  4. Tell family members and friends to avoid sending you non-emergency texts  or emails until after work;
  5. Add a message under your email signature, noting that you check emails only during a specific morning period and at the end of the workday.

Many people struggle in their lives because they can’t figure out how to elevate what’s most important and push aside the trivial. When it comes to personal discipline, we control all of these elements. We simply have to decide what we want to achieve.


Warren Rustand is an entrepreneur, corporate leader, and the ForbesBooks author of “The Leader Within Us: Mindset, Principles, and Tools for a LIFE BY DESIGN”. Rustand is an author, educator, and well-known speaker and for 30 years led a public policy-private sector conference in Washington D.C. for CEOs. He is currently the Dean of Learning for Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Global Leadership Academy.