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The Discipline to be Consistent

The Discipline to be Consistent

“Fanatic Discipline”

March 3, 2013

Tim Viands


I just finished rereading Jim Collins’ latest book Great by Choice.  While Collins writes primary to engage companies in thoughtful conversations about operations and improving performance, there are some great takeaways for student success.  One of which he refers to as fanatic discipline.


The term ‘discipline’ often comes with a negative connotation.  For children and teens, discipline is viewed as a consequence for making a mistake.  In the larger context, discipline is a trait that all successful people and companies have.


Collins’ concept, fanatic discipline, is defined as a “consistency of action.”  Collins’ analogy, and he uses many to reinforce his points, is a 20-mile march.  Successful people have the self-discipline to attain their goal(s) regardless of circumstances and conditions.  In the 20-mile march analogy, these people have the unwavering commitment and determination to march 20 miles in good and bad conditions.  In good conditions (sunny, 70 degrees, a nice cool breeze), they have the awareness to hold back and not run.  In the poor conditions (blinding snow), they have the determination to plow through and remain true to the goal. 


Here are some examples of fanatic discipline not in action:

  • When things are going well (great grades, easy classes, playing an easy team in lacrosse), lack of focus and complacency often sets in.  As a result, the things that ‘were’ going well are adversely affected.  For graduating seniors, having the fanatic discipline in the second semester is very important.
  • When things are not going well (low grades, difficult classes, a tough opponent in lacrosse), a lack of resiliency and grit often sets in.  As a result, the things that were ‘not’ going well get worse.  Withdrawal and avoidance may occur.

Here are the takeaways, as applied to children and teenagers:

  • Fanatic discipline must be adhered to in the best and worst of times. 
  • In the best of times, the discipline to remain consistent in performance, emotion and attitude.
  • In the worst of times, the discipline to shift the gears into high-performance mode, and keep the goal in sight.  I often refer to this as “the light at the end of the tunnel.”


I welcome your comments.  Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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