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I once met a woman who would always say “Discipline is Freedom.”

At first, that struck me as a pretty odd statement. ‘Discipline’ and ‘Freedom’ aren't two words we often hear in the same sentence.

When I hear the word ‘Freedom’, I think of a soaring eagle, or smiling travelers, or people on adventure doing whatever they would like. And when I think of ‘Discipline’ it feels tough and hard. I think of characteristics of warriors or athletes or a scientist studying in a lab.

These two words feel worlds apart.

But then I sat and listened to this woman’s story, and her message became clearer.

This woman was an addict. She had become reliant on drugs and alcohol to get through the struggles of life. She described being tied down to fear, overcome by insecurity, trapped by feelings of being less than and unlovable...and the only way she could find temporary relive was through a mind-altering substance. (keyword being temporary)

Her life had no meaning, the only item on her ‘to-do list’ was to score more drugs and booze…but finally, one day when the pain became terrible enough, she found AA, and began a journey to stay clean.

She soon found just how important discipline was.

She attended meetings frequently, she worked with a sponsor, she went through the 12-steps of the program. When she wanted to quit, and go back out and get a drink or fix, she stayed disciplined. After months of ups-and-downs, she started to see the bondage of her life disappear.

  • She says the anxiety removed.

  • The insecurities diminished.

  • She wasn't a slave to the fear.

  • She was achieving peace of mind and mental freedom.

She was so excited as she began to talk about how her ‘discipline had created a life of freedom.’ She spoke with such enthusiasm…in a way, I had never heard people talk about the word discipline.

I was very inspired by this woman, and if her message had stopped there, I would have had a great takeaway.

However, I am so happy she continued speaking because what she said next was incredible.

A couple years into her journey with sobriety, she was in a terrible car accident and as a result was bedridden for several months.

She was unable to walk on her own.

She couldn't get to the bathroom.

She had many limitations, parts of her physical freedom had been taken away.

She then started the long road back through physical rehab. She got up each day with a big challenge ahead of her. She had a new fear of never walking again.

But she remembered about how it felt early in recovery.

She knew that once before in her life, she had experienced how discipline provided freedom, so she trusted in the process. Slowly but surely, she stayed on task, she stayed persistent and faithful, she did the work, she was disciplined, and she eventually walked out of the hospital, and regained her physical freedom.

I know that it could not have been easy. I know there were moments when she wanted to quit. I know that it was not only a physical rollercoaster but also an emotional and mental rollercoaster.

Once again, her disciple led to freedom.

The first time with addiction it was mental freedom. And the second time with the accident it was physical freedom.

I share that story because I never saw discipline that way.

I always looked at discipline from a cop’s kid mentality: An athlete, a warrior, a tough, King Leonidas in 300, Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy type of disciple. I saw it as a sacrifice needed to be tough and stoic.

But this courageous and disciplined and dedicated woman gave me a new and different way of looking at discipline.

Maybe you struggle with discipline because it feels too hard.

Maybe you struggle with discipline because you don’t believe it will lead to anything worthwhile.

Maybe you struggle with discipline because your reasons to act aren’t strong enough to overcome.

Perhaps it is time you adopt this woman’s mantra.

Perhaps we can start to view discipline as helping us achieve freedom. That souring eagle high above the mountaintop type of Freedom.

When I think of Glorious Freedom and Victorious Freedom, it makes the discipline feel more enjoyable. It gives the discipline meaning and it develops purpose.

  • I start to believe that getting out of bed at the time I set the alarm for will take me closer to freedom.

  • I know sitting down and writing when I want to be a writer will get me closer to freedom.

  • I trust that going to the gym consistently will take me closer to freedom.

  • Having the discipline to not buying the things we don't need will help us find financial freedom.

Whether it is mental or physical or financial, discipline gets us closer to freedom, and I think that freedom is at the core of what we really want in life.

Let's work to change our outlook on discipline, so we can practice it, we can own it, and then we get the reward from it which is: Freedom.


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