I really like to let myself be carried away by my desires and my needs. That being said, when it comes to moving forward on my projects, this dynamic doesn’t get me very far.
People often ask me how I do “everything” I do. Well one of mechanisms is self-discipline. Self-discipline is our ability to get things done, despite obstacles and distractions (I already talked about it here). It allows us to keep our eyes focused on our goal and to do what seems right to us to achieve it. It requires courage, perseverance, but also consistency, so as not to go off in all directions.
I am convinced that, coupled with an Agile mindset, it allows me to move forward much faster and further. And it’s a dynamic that we can apply to ourselves and as a team, to push efficiency and value creation even further.
Why is self-discipline necessary to develop an Agile mindset?
If you want to adopt an Agile mindset, you will undoubtedly come across limiting beliefs and obstacles at some point. The people around you, often believing only what they see, will scrutinize what you say and do, to bring about agility.
Without self-discipline, it will be difficult to move forward against all odds.
For example, an Agile mindset will use mistakes as learning levers. In front of you, voices will certainly rise to point fingers at the culprits and want justifications. So it takes a lot of self-discipline to keep going and reaffirm that it’s about continuous learning and improvement, starting with acknowledging your own mistakes, and building on them.
Similarly, when you want to advocate transparency and collaboration, you will have to lead the way by disciplining yourself on open communication and the empathy necessary for collective expression to innovate.
Working on your self-discipline, for yourself, and with your teams, means allowing a better quality of work at all levels: for your users but also for you. Indeed, more self-discipline also means fewer doubts and hesitations and therefore a better way of working: clearer and giving a feeling of accomplishment, particularly satisfying.
Another element to take into account is the empowerment of teams and their self-organization, specific to Agile methods. Without self-discipline on the part of the members of these teams, the work will not progress effectively, and it will be all the more difficult for the leader to trust. This may affect accountability. An Agile team that becomes aware of this aspect will be keen to develop on this axis.
How to develop this self-discipline and get the teams on board in this improvement?
There are many ways to develop self-discipline.
One of the key elements in developing self-discipline is getting to know yourself well: your values, your needs, your gray areas, your triggers. It is possible to do this journey alone, through reading (I recommend Dare to Lead by Brené Brown for the values in particular), but I still strongly recommend the accompaniment of a coach.
Knowing yourself allows you to overcome the obstacles you may face, whether in achieving your goals but also in your relationships with others. It really matters as an Agile mindset is about being particularly collaborative. This self-knowledge is really a fundamental point for the rest. At a minimum, the clarification of values and needs.
A second tool you can use to develop your self-discipline, and that of your team, is setting a clear and measurable vision and goals. When we know where we are going, and everyone is aligned on this goal, it is much easier to move forward with perseverance and resilience.
This vision, these objectives are a basis for a better definition of priorities and better decision-making for the team. Their measurable factor makes it possible to follow the progress, which
reinforces the motivation of the members. When the objectives are ambitious and shared, everyone will become empowered and responsible for moving them forward. Self-discipline will strengthen with this mechanism.
Third tool I wanted to discuss in this post: continuous improvement.
By setting progress goals and using the technique of small steps, it is possible to develop self-discipline, by proving to yourself that you are capable of doing so, and by appreciating the
Continuous improvement helps keep team members engaged and helps them get to know each other better over time.
As a leader, it is important to reward this self-discipline, so that it becomes a norm in teams and for oneself. This positive reinforcement can be done by recognizing and celebrating excellence and perseverance, for example.
However, not everyone will rush into their own development. Some people
will question this need for self-discipline, for example by explaining that it does not suit their way of doing things or their personality.
Others will be afraid of failure and will be held back in their progress.
Still others will see it as pressure and a source of stress.
How to overcome obstacles to self-discipline?
Certain beliefs and thoughts will be limiting in the development of self-discipline: “it’s not for me!”, “I have no will”, “it’s too difficult” or even (maybe my favorite) “I don’t have time”.
It will be necessary to become aware of these thoughts, to be able to question them and question them.
A person who says she doesn’t have time sometimes doesn’t see that it’s precisely the lack of self-discipline that causes her to lack it. By procrastinating or scattering.
It is therefore interesting to dig into these elements with her, to highlight the areas of progress to be put in place, to move her forward.
The same goes for pressure or fear of failure: if the person sees self-discipline in a negative and stressful way, it is possible to explore with them how to progress little by little, rather than feeling it as something something suffered.
Emotion management and emotional intelligence can be interesting to develop in this context, to help people reframe their perception of self-discipline.
Self-discipline is a real asset for teams that want to adopt an Agile mindset and methods, but it is not always easy to develop it. Taking the time to understand and deconstruct limiting thoughts about it is necessary to be able to grow teams and support them in their continuous improvement and excellence.