"I think of discipline in the context of self-control. For a lot of us, it's hard to imagine anything besides 'I want it, and I want it now.' Picture a hungry toddler banging on the table waiting for dinner. Impulsive behavior is appealing: In the heat of the moment, you want that piece of cake or that pair of shoes, but you are not thinking about the consequences. Instant gratification can lead to trouble
Self-discipline is not just about temptation; it's also about our own emotions and reactions. It's important to have enough self-discipline to hit the pause button and appraise a situation. It's about not reacting to the latest and the loudest, but instead thinking about your future self. For example, if you don't pay your bills, you won't be able to get credit. That's where habit comes in; you have to train yourself—it's almost like building a muscle. Self-discipline reminds us we always have a choice. If you are willing to explore alternative behaviors, you open yourself up to possibilities that you never dreamed of."—Boardman is a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College.
"I'm hardwired to be disciplined. I never needed an alarm clock as a child. What you have to work against is discipline to the point of being too rigid. Rigid people are dangerous, which becomes obvious when you look at some of the financial firms that went under.
We're in the business of numbers. The numbers have to be right every time—there has to be zero-error tolerance. I tell my team all the time, 'If you have a problem, the only way to fix it is if you have a process you can dissect, so that when something is missed you can go back to your source document.'
I do better with order than chaos, but at the same time I can be very fluid. Discipline should be balanced with flexibility. There are people who are so disciplined that a change upsets their constitution. But survivors rescue themselves—they never point fingers, or wait for someone else to rescue them."—Hobson is the president of Ariel Investments in Chicago.
"Discipline? Oh, I have none. Do you ask yourself when you breathe, why and how are you taking a breath? No. For me, it's normal. For me, life is discipline. It's not intentional—it is the way I live. So in that way, I'm not disciplined at all. It's not something I have to fight for. I'm just pleased with what I'm doing, and I'm lucky to do it in great conditions and with people I like. I don't have to battle with anybody, and everybody does exactly what I want them to. Perhaps that is my suggestion: If you do something that you love, you won't need to force yourself to do it. Love and discipline: Are they that different?"—Lagerfeld is the creative director of Chanel and Fendi.
"I would like to create more space and have more time to do nothing. Art history is filled with examples of artists who have fought their entire lives for their work and their beliefs. To create unique energy you have to be disciplined. But it's also important to learn how not to let this energy destroy you. I have very strong work habits, but when I decide to take a rest, I'm also a master at doing nothing without guilt.
When you create, the higher the euphoria of creation, the lower you can fall in your private life. I made up the term 'body drama' to describe this idea. It's like when you see a rock group singing to thousands and thousands of listeners. The audience gives all of its energy to the performer. It inflates the ego. Once the concert is finished, that energy can destroy. It's why so many great performers are brought down by drugs or alcohol.
This is why discipline is essential."—Abramović is an artist living in New York City.
"I don't think discipline applies to one single school of cooking. I don't think molecular gastronomy requires more discipline than rustic French cooking or mama's cooking in a Greek village. It's the idea that you put yourself completely into the process of cooking and don't cut corners. For me that applies to every kind of cooking. It's all about being alert to what's going on in the pot or in the pan. It's about a state of mind.
I know a lot of people have this romantic image of going to the market and rummaging through your spice cabinet, but actually I do a lot of groundwork before I go into the kitchen to try things out. You really need to sit and think if you're going to produce quality recipes every week.
There's something about the physical work in the kitchen—there's a limit to how much you can do. Even in the busiest kitchen, there's always a point at the end of the day when you go home."—Ottolenghi is a London-based author and restaurant owner.
"When you realize what matters most to you, that's when you understand how to discipline yourself. You're not going to always have people telling you yea or nay. When you're an athlete and in the limelight, people feel like they can't tell you certain things. You have to be disciplined on your own. I had to learn to check myself as I understood there weren't a lot of people who were going to tell me when I was doing things wrong.
Being disciplined is being a professional, understanding that I have a job to do and knowing that I'm not walking around worried about just me. It's my three boys, Zaire and Zion and Dahveon, who I'm concerned about. The first thing—morning, noon, night—is them. Getting custody of my sons and deciding to raise my nephew, that was the most disciplined moment in my life."—Wade is a guard for the Miami Heat.