Inspiration vs. Discipline

Discipline: The Secret Key To Unleashing The Genius Within

Let us begin by talking about one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Well-known for his virtuoso service returns, this man was enigmatic and often effortless on the court. His combination of guile, skills and heart led him to one of the most coveted achievements in the game – a ‘Career Grand Slam’ – which means that he managed to win all four of the most prestigious majors during his career. Battling through injury and personal setbacks, this man managed to carry on nevertheless and forge one of the most amazing resumes in tennis. And yet, in his own words, he hated tennis.

We’re talking, of course, about the great Andre Agassi.

In his own words “I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have.”

It’s shocking, right? How could one of the best of all time secretly hate the game he became so well-known for?

Agassi is not the only one. Throughout history, there have been several mega-successful people who have stated that they disliked their chosen profession. Certainly, in light of this information, we must reexamine what drives us to greatness.

Most of us think that inspiration is the key. If you’re inspired, you can get through great hurdles and succeed wildly. And certainly, this is true to a certain extent. But it doesn’t tell the full story.

Inspiration, you see, is temporary. Inspiration will get you off your couch. Inspiration will help you explode off the starting line. But it won’t get you all the way. Once the monotony of daily life sets in, inspiration wanes. And this is when diets are abandoned. This is when businesses lose their way. This is when people stop working on their personal projects.

The real key to unlocking your inner potential then, is…


That’s right. Discipline will take you farther than inspiration ever can. Inspiration is fleeting. It might strike you on the back seat of a bus while you’re traveling to work.

But what if it doesn’t?

Are you prepared to continue living the way you always have, hoping that a spark or an idea will ignite action? Or are you prepared to go out and get things done anyway?

Discipline is what differentiates amateurs and professionals. Bestselling author Steven Pressfield talks about this very idea in his seminal book ‘The War of Art’. Pressfield says that showing up is more important than almost anything else. If you’re at your desk at a certain time, day in and day out, come what may, the results will come.

If you want to write a book, write every day. If you want to have a thriving blog, post something to it every day. If you want to have a successful business, work on it every day. Yes, there will be days when you’re tired and sore and aching and the world seems to be against you. But you show up anyway.

Because you’re a professional.

One of the keys to developing discipline is to create a daily routine for yourself. You wake up at a certain time, show up to work at a certain time, work out at a certain time and so forth. Let us take a look at how you can create a great daily routine that will help you unlock your inner genius.

Crafting a Winning Daily Routine

In the fantastic book ‘Daily Rituals’, author Mason Currey examined the lives of dozens of different bestselling authors, creative people and visionaries. And despite the wildly different lives they all led, they all had a few things in common. These are the traits that all of these great achievers had in common.

1.     Work on the most important thing first.

Almost all of the people Currey researched would start their work by focusing on the most important tasks first. This allowed them to tackle the most important tasks when they were the freshest and most energetic. When you’ve just woken up, you’re rejuvenated after a few hours of sleep, and the demands of the day haven’t yet started diminishing your energy. This is why you should always start working on the most crucial things first.

2.     Show up every day.

It’s easy to believe that prolific and successful people are enigmatic individuals who work in a mysterious, unknowable manner. The truth is the exact opposite. The most successful people stick to their daily routine irrespective of whatever else is happening in their life. The moment you start letting external circumstances dictate the pace of your day, you are setting yourself up for failure. There’s always going to be some excuse for not showing up to work. there are going to be days when you show up to work and don’t get much done. But you do it again the next day nevertheless.

3.     Make yourself accountable and set clear goals.

Just showing up and sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day doesn’t automatically make you more productive or creative. Even if you’re engaging in a creative pursuit, you need to have specific targets that you can aim at. For example, if you’re working on a new app, you can set targets like ‘Complete the database module in 10 days’.

By setting small, distinct goals and achieving them, you harness the power of momentum and positive reinforcement. Your reward mechanism is activated and it gives you the fuel to keep going, even through tough times.

4.     Commit yourself to your work over the long run.

A lot of people who start businesses are dabblers. They try a business idea for a couple of months, and when it doesn’t pay off, they move to the next one. This is completely counterproductive. To really produce something of value, something that other people would love to use and pay you money for, you need to be in it for the long run. Did you know that the creator of Peanuts, Charles Schultz, would work by himself 7 hours a day, 5 days a week? And he kept this up for 50 years! By any benchmark, Schultz was a massive success, but that didn’t stop him from working on his craft.

Listen – whether you’re building your own business or learning a new skill, discipline is the key. Don’t wait or hope for inspiration to strike you or the stars to align. Get out there, keep working, and stick with it. 

You CAN do it!