Self-discipline: The Key to Success

The following blog is a transcript of the "This I Believe" speech that Aidan '23 delivered to his Middle School teachers and peers. Every eighth grader gives a "This I Believe" speech about a belief or experience that impacts the way he leads his daily life. In his speech, Aidan shares why he believes that self-discipline helps you reach your full potential and eventually leads to living a stronger, smarter, and happier life.

I believe in self-discipline. I think that in life, the most important thing you must do is choose between what you want most, and what you want now. Most of the time, these are not the same thing, and I believe in having the self-discipline to make the right decision.

Now, by saying this, I don't mean to say that I have perfect self-discipline. In fact, I'm not even close. But just because I am not perfect at it does not mean I don't think its one of the most important things in life. In fact, I want to share a time where I did not have great self-discipline, and that was in Mr. Gagarin's math class.

I know that that sounds kind of strange at first. But hear me out. Last year, in the first trimester of school, my grade in math was doing terribly. It was for a very frustrating reason too, actually... I was doing very well on all the tests and all the quizzes, but what was killing me the most was my homework grade. I had about a 50 percent on my homework average, for a simple reason. I wasn't self-disciplined. For example, there were very precise instructions about how to do homework; you had to put your name, block, and date in a certain spot, and if it was in the wrong spot, that was a point off.

"That's not that much," you might think. But, homework is graded from 0-3, so forgetting to write down the date could drop you 2 or 3 letter grades on that particular thing. You also had to write in pencil, not pen, and writing down the problem was also a must. In the first few months of school, I ignored most of these rules. Who cares, I thought. Its just ONE homework grade. But the ones and twos started to add up very quickly, and I started to watch my grade plummet as I kept taking the easy way out.

It seemed a lot easier to me to just lose a point on that day's homework then to get up and go get a pencil, or to look at the portal and check the homework format one more time. It was simple; what I wanted most was to do well in math class, but what I wanted to do then was to get the homework done as fast as possible, so I could go do something that a seventh-grader would find more fun. At first this whole system seemed like a hassle, but one day I had the revelation that it was more about following instructions and self-discipline then math. This system taught me many valuable lessons about life, not just math. It seemed like it didn't matter at first, but this homework system taught me many important lessons about self-discipline.

Eventually, I realized that I needed to get it together and fix this problem. I worked hard and redid what felt like thousands of math problems over the span of about a week and a half. Each night, after soccer, school, and my other homework, I wanted desperately to just sit down and watch TV for a few minutes. But each time I sat down, my parents reminded me of the missing or incomplete assignments I needed to finish. I eventually realized that if I had just spent the extra few seconds each day to make sure I was doing things correctly, I would never have had to redo all that. I realized that if I had just used some self-discipline and not taken the easy way out, life would be a lot easier then.

Even though some things can seem like they don't matter or are a waste of time, they often teach important life lessons and give you valuable insight about how to live. In fact, at the end of trimester, the one thing stopping me from Honor Roll 1 was my math grade. Well, no, it wasn't my math grade; it was my lack of self-discipline and my unwillingness to buckle down and just do what I was supposed to. My math grade an 84, just one single point away from the requirement. Even though I had saved my homework grade as much as I could, and my other parts of that grade were good, it just was too late. Taking the easy way out cost me something that I had otherwise worked hard for and wanted very much.

Self-discipline doesn't just help in school, it helps in all aspects of life. Oftentimes, the best players on the soccer field are the ones who focus and work on their weaknesses before practice, instead of having some fun and shooting with their friends. Now, don't get me wrong, it's good to have fun with your friends. I think that is really important. But there is a time and place for everything, and you just have to choose between what you want most and what you want now. It may seem appealing to go do what you want now and goof off before practice, but if what you want most is to play soccer at a high level, then you have to have the self-discipline to do the right thing.

Self-discipline also creates a positive cycle that helps you grow and become better in all aspects of life. The players with self-discipline are focused and get better, so they improve the most during practice. When they do well in practice, the coach gives them more playing time. The more playing time they get, the better they become, helping them to keep getting better and better due to their self-discipline. Although some things can seem like they don't matter, they do. Believe me.

Small actions can have big consequences. But with enough self-discipline, anything is possible. World-class athletes are the ones eating healthy even though it's not delicious, and training as hard as they possibly can even when they are tired. The most respected scientists and professors are the ones who have the self-discipline to still work outside of work hours. Self-discipline is the key to being happy and successful in life. If you have power over yourself, you will become stronger, smarter, and happier. Self-discipline is the key to success in life. This I believe.