This week’s #WednesdayWisdom comes from Dr. Julie Gurner on The Knowledge Project Podcast – specifically the portion about Discipline versus Motivation. I found this interesting because it almost seems in direct conflict with Brian Kight’s blog which has a high emphasis and is almost always all about discipline.


Here’s an extrapolation of what Dr. Gurner says:


We regularly get the advice: “We have to rely on discipline.” However, we also recognize that discipline requires a lot of push. You have to push yourself to do it.


Motivation is a pull. It’s internal. It fuels you. It drives you. You don’t have to be pushed to do something if you’re motivated. You’re stoked to do it. You have to be told to turn it off…to stop thinking about it during off-time.


How is discipline useful?

Discipline is useful to help you get back into a cycle or routine – this requires that you push yourself.

Discipline is also useful to start something completely new – you know it’s good for you and so you push yourself.


However, if you over rely on discipline…if every day requires that push and every day feels like your slogging through….this can be a flag that maybe you shouldn’t be doing this. This is when people retire. They’re worn out.


Discipline is talked about because it feels tough to do – we’re doing the hard thing BUT…when we are at our best we are not pushing – we are in a flow state. We are in the groove. We experience Zen. Great people are obsessed, they are driven, they are motivated, they are engaged, they are in flow…they’re not slogging through or pushing.


We all have ‘off days’ – and we should discipline in these times. We know we need to do it even on our worst day and we feel gratification in doing it on our worst day. Grit and happiness are closely correlated – when we push through we are proud of ourselves.


However, we shouldn’t use discipline or ‘pushing’ as our primary strategy in life or it can make life pretty unbearable.