One day when I was serving in the Army in Korea I was on guard duty. On a rock. This was no ordinary rock. This was a two-hundred pound rock painted with our unit crest and proudly displayed on top of a hill in front of our barracks. This was a rock that a few rowdy drunk soldiers decided to roll down the hill the night before. To prevent future rock rolling, a guard roster was drafted. It was my shift.
My platoon sergeant approached my post and stopped to chat. He asked me, “Magary, why do you think the soldiers pushed our rock down the hill last night?” I responded, “because the Army does not teach discipline, Sergeant.”
The sergeant had been in the Army for nearly twenty years and was visibly upset by my answer. “What do you mean the Army doesn’t teach discipline?! Our soldiers are up at 0530 every day for physical training! Their uniforms are pressed, their boots are shined and they are never late. If that’s not discipline, then tell me what is, specialist!”
“Sergeant, how many of your soldiers are up at 0530 on their day off? They only get up that early out of fear of what will happen if they disobey an order. Soldiers are not disciplined, they are obedient.”
My response told me to go to the push-up position. I obediently complied.
Discipline is voluntarily enduring temporary discomfort for greater gain in the future. Discipline involves making a choice. Discipline is doing the right thing for no other reason than it is the right thing, even when it is the difficult thing. Obedience is often a tool used to train the will. Will is an essential ingredient to the early stages of discipline. The later stages of discipline are effortless. The later stages of discipline are called habit.
Soldiers are not trained to think. Soldiers are trained to forego creativity and do nothing unless they are told to do it. Soldiers are obedient.
Warriors are curious. Warriors constantly challenge themselves and convention because they cultivate a healthy dissatisfaction by believing they can always be better. Warriors maintain practices that have helped them achieve their goals and discard practices that have proved ineffective. Warriors are disciplined.
Soldiers march. Warriors dance. Be a Warrior.
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Thanks for this post. I just found your blog and it’s awesome! This post reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “”To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to become one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the end of our lives. Nobody was born a warrior, in exactly the same way that no one is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other.” Carlos Castaneda
What you touched on in this post is the definition of being a winner. Never let up, never give in, never stop thinking and never obey blindly. I agree with your viewpoint and as far as your question of which one am I goes… I displayed discipline today, that’s all I can say. You’ll hear the same thing from me tomorrow as well.
Thanks for the post and Merry Christmas!
All the Best,
well said Vic. I like to think I am a warrior in training forever.
Wow! well said and what a great example. If I could instil this message into all my clients then perhaps they would train more readily on their own and not just when I am barking orders at them.
Brilliant post Vic!
All the best
Discipline, daily habits and rituals, the will power to do the right stuff because of the big picture – all qualities that are too underrated nowadays. Regular folks seem to consider it outdated to have personal habits, schedules, goals.
But then again, regular folks live regular lives.
Awesome post. Now for the obligatory: “This is Sparta!”
finally someone who speaks plain English just started weight lifting and out of all the sites yours as go to be the best!!! so much so that i’ve made it my home page….
“Discipline is the willingness to do what you must do in order to achieve your goals even when you don’t want to do it.” I’ve forgotten the source, but it’s the best definition of discipline I’ve ever heard. Since I’m seriously overweight (ok, obese) and have only recently started to do something about it, it has become something of a mantra to get me out of bed & into the gym before work everyday.
Great site, great info. Thanks for the no-nonsense inspiration!
Wow! Sounds like a lost letter to the Corinthians. Great stuff! I’m so glad I found this site.
I really appreciate all of the great comments, they make all of this writing worth it!
I’m not sure when you were in the Army or what your job description was, but as an Infantry officer I can tell you that modern Soldiers are Warriors. Soldiers live by the Warrior Ethos:
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
Is the military full of ridiculous rules? Absolutely. Do Soldiers live in fear of reprimand if they break these silly rules? Absolutely (well, most of them anyway). But all of these silly rules and fears go away once you find yourself in battle. The fear is real and the discipline that overcomes this fear sure as hell is real too.
I have seen Soldiers do remarkable things in the face of great adversity. You said it well, “Warriors maintain practices that have helped them achieve their goals and discard practices that have proved ineffective. Warriors are disciplined.” Soldiers do this every day to keep themselves and their friends alive. Soldiers are disciplined. Soldiers are Warriors.
Sorry for the rant,
Nate, no apology necessary and I don’t see your comment as a rant at all. I was in the Army from 1998 – 2001. I got out less than 30 days before 9/11. I too was in the Infantry (11M).
My experience was during peace time only and I’ll never discount the bravery or loyalty of those serving in war. However I maintain that during my peace time experience I saw very little discipline among soldiers; what I saw was compliance out of fear of punishment. And the only time I saw any enlisted guys have the flexibility to discard practices that were ineffective was during a two week training rotation I did with 10th Group SF.
That being said, I have deep respect for everyone who has sacrificed during our past several years at war. I don’t like to link to my personal blog here at GymJunkies, but this one time I think it is warranted. Click the link below to see a post I made regarding Veteran’s Day:
My sincere thanks for your service.
Your post makes a very important distinction between obedience and discipline. Seems to me that all disciplined people are obedient but not all obedient people are disciplined. Thanks for the great insight!