Pick the Pain You’d Rather Have–You’ve Gotta Choose One

Pick the Pain You’d Rather Have–You’ve Gotta Choose One August 26, 2013


A despised word nowadays is discipline.

Yet that’s a word that needs to live.

Its fuller definition involves much more than putting a child in a timeout or sending a teen to the principal’s office.

Discipline, in its truest form, is an activity that improves a skill.

Success in business requires discipline.

A gold medal hockey team is disciplined in its performance.

The challenge as an author is to sell discipline when modern publishers want you to put hip twists on things. Bestselling books are ripe with quick fixes, and, although the benefits of discipline are big, they are seldom felt immediately.

Discipline—ugh!” an editor e-mailed me recently. “That’s your grandfather’s word. Discipline connotes pain. Can’t you find a better way to say what you mean?”

I pushed back on his counsel. The word might be stodgy, even pejorative, but I’m a fan of the word myself and of the concepts behind it.

Here’s what I mean. Sure, discipline involves pain. It’s not always comfortable or convenient. But pain is inevitable in life.

And every man must pick the pain he’d rather have.

You either pick the pain of DISCIPLINE.

Or you pick the pain of REGRET.

There are no other options.

Consider the following:

·         Discipline wakes a man at 6:30 a.m. to go for his 2 mile jog. It’s cold outside and dark, and he’d rather stay in bed. Sure, that’s painful.


·         Regret lands him in the hospital at age 52 from a heart-attack.

·         Discipline permits a man to let a stupid driver fly by him unimpeded on the freeway. Sure, it grates on a man’s ego. Hey—that louse needs to be taught a lesson. It takes restraint and a cool head to not floor it, swerve around that muttonhead, and flip him the bird.


·         Regret lands both drivers in the morgue.


·         Discipline installs filtering software on man’s computer. It’s inconvenient, sure, and might slow the computer. It might be embarrassing to explain why you want to safeguard your integrity like that.


·         Regret sees a man’s self-respect disintegrate and his marriage fall apart.

Catch my drift? In this day and age of lighthearted masculinity and short-range living, it’s not popular anymore to advocate discipline. But you can’t avoid pain. You can only pick the one you want.

One pain is preemptive. The other operates in hindsight.

One pain moves a man forward. The other sets him back.

One is wise. The other is foolish.

Discipline: it’s a perfectly good word. Better than regret.

I say embrace the word.

Definitely not a painful read.  Enjoy …

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