By Manny Cabrera III, Chief Instructor

Previously, we learned that discipline was the key to leading a successful life.  It is the glue that makes all other aspects of a Black Belt Life possible.  Now, let’s look at the first aspect of becoming disciplined:  Disciplined people.

At Sidekicks, one of the goals to which we aspire is to cultivate the leadership qualities of our students.  We want to see students of ours go on to be the business and social leaders of our communities who are intelligent, value driven people.  What kind of a leader do we want them to be?  The type of leader that we want is the kind that puts the success and well-being of others before their own needs and ego.  The Black Belt Leader exercises the discipline and restraint to treat everyone like a human being who deserves respect before fulfilling their own need to be respected, achieve celebrity status, or snake away whatever’s in it for them.  As Jim Collins put in his book Good to Great, they should be “more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.”

The discipline to channel our ego needs away from ourselves and into a larger goal doesn’t mean we live without ambition or self-interest.  It means that we understand our success lies in helping others become successful, the company we work for successful, etc., without thinking of ulterior motives.  We simply cannot stand mediocrity and we will do everything we can to make whatever we are a part of the best it can be.

In today’s business world, the trend for executive leadership is to hire a larger than life savior.  Examples of that type of person include Lee Iacocca and Donald Trump—someone who has achieved celebrity status as a result of their business prowess.  However, their ambition is for themselves.  Chrysler began to slump even during Iacocca’s reign when he began to entertain the idea of writing what would become his bestselling life’s story.  And The Donald practically talks about himself in the third person, yet he’s only amassed great personal wealth as a result of his land deals—companies in which he tried to do something else, ahem The Taj Mahal ahem, are currently going through debt reorganization in Bankruptcy Court.  The most successful companies, the ones who become truly great, are the ones who have leaders in the top positions that are first for the company and its people (employees and customers) and their ego second.

Abraham Lincoln is acknowledged as one of our best presidents.  This is largely a result of his enduring will to preserve a great nation instead of suing for peace.  This intense will for others came at the expense of hundreds of thousands of American lives, including Lincoln’s own.

Interesting, these disciplined leaders are a unique mix of “intense humility and ferocious will.”  We too can develop this type of leadership through discipline; it has to become a habit, something constantly exercised and strengthened.

Another aspect of creating disciplined people is by exercising the “First who…then what” principle.  Essentially, by building relationships with other people on the road to a Black Belt Life, we will be successful.  We have to get the right people on the bus (people of Black Belt character) and the wrong people off the bus (those who are negative influence in your life) before deciding where to drive the bus.  In business, this means we should hire the right people who will own the company’s mission and be self-directed.  In our personal lives, however, it means having the discipline to “hire” the right people to associate with; those people of good character, rather than just anybody.  This is especially hard for children.  Kids want to be liked and accepted by the “in” crowd so much they’re often willing to compromise themselves to fit in, sometimes sinking into negative behaviors like drugs, alcohol and underage sex.

To make the transition into a disciplined person we must be willing to wait it out.  Sometimes we’ll have to go it alone until we meet people who like us because of our values and not because of our $100 Hollister jeans.

Through putting the needs of others before our own vanity, we make the step into Black Belt Leadership.  By trying to find the right people to associate with before other social graces we help stave off negative influences.  This puts us on the road to becoming disciplined people because it affects how we interact with others (Black Belt Leadership) and how we allow and who we allow to influence us.

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About the author: Manny Cabrera III is an expert in self-protection, fitness, personal development, and is a life-long martial artist.  He serves as chief instructor at Sidekicks Family Martial Arts Centers and has written for multiple publications.  Mr. Cabrera resides in Brandon, FL with his wife Jessica, their twin sons, and an energetic Austrailian Cattle Dog.  Follow Mr. Cabrera on Twitter.

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