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Discipline is required to achieve success in business and in life. Too often the word has a pejorative connotation, but its Latin origin means instruction, knowledge and learning. Correspondingly, in the language of emotional intelligence, the concept involves exercising self-regulation in order to improve. Discipline means consistently acting in alignment with your values, long-term goals and self-imposed performance standards, despite expedience or taking the easy path. Discipline means mental independence, an ability to remain steadfast in the face of herd instinct and external pressures – having the inner will to do what it takes to create a great outcome, no matter how difficult.

The writings of Jim Collins, a passionately curious author, professor and researcher, speak to the importance of disciplined decision-making. In “Great by Choice,” discipline is the deciding factor in the success of the first two explorers who attempted to reach the South Pole over a century ago. Roald Amundsen’s team succeeded and returned; Robert Falcon Scott’s failed and perished. Collins also describes how discipline made Southwest Airlines extremely successful over its nearly 50-year history. It recently won its sixth consecutive “Domestic Carrier of the Year” award, while maintaining consistent profitability and exceptional return to shareholders.

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