Discipline is Destiny a book review

A review of the new book from Ryan Holiday, Discipline is Destiny, a guidebook for improving your self-control

Discipline is Destiny

Discipline is destiny, is not the sort of book that you read in a hurry. I found myself just sitting quietly looking at the cover. Taking in the words on the cover. I get the idea that without the discipline to get things done, nothing will get done. It is a thought that engenders feelings of guilt as I acknowledge to myself the things that I have not achieved for myself because I lacked the discipline to stay focused and preferred the much more attractive distractions. Oh, the guilt! And I have not started to think about the things I could and should have been able to do for other people if only I had the strength to stay focused on the objective.

That is the clear message of this book. If you want to achieve you have to have the self-control to be able to resist the distractions that inevitably cross our paths.

Just reflect for a moment and be honest. Could you have done better at school, university if you had the self-control to say no to the distractions and stayed focused on your studies? How much more successful could you have been in your career if you had stayed focused on the tasks that would have helped you achieve your objectives rather than those which were more fun or just easier? Or which you should have delegated to someone else? What about your life away from work? Or is that too painful to contemplate?

During one of my visits to Africa my host took me to a service at their church. During the sermon, the preacher announced that it was pointless praying to God for the things you want in your life, because God was not going to give them to us. Simply, said the preacher, God has already given you everything you need. You just have not had the sense to see it. And if you already have everything you need all you need to do is start using them in the correct way. The problem he said is that we are all too distracted.

Reading Discipline is Destiny reminded me of that sermon. It is clear that we do have everything that we need to be successful in life, in our careers, in everything that we want to do. What stops us from achieving the success that all those things give us the potential to achieve is not exercising the self-control, not being disciplined to follow the rules that will enable us to be successful.

What Ryan Holiday does in Discipline is Destiny is compartmentalise the process of regaining control over the external elements of life into engaging easily digestible chapters. Far from preaching as it is possible to be, there is no overload of either theory or to do lists. Holiday provides his message in a gentle anecdotal style that is almost like sound bites. This approach gave me time to reflect on each focused chapter and examine my own thinking.

I might not change my to do list of jobs that need doing because I read Discipline is Destiny. I am sure though that I will create a list of to have, attitudes. Somehow, that is the sort of list that will make me noticeably better and quicker at all the jobs on the to do list.