Don’t Kid Yourself, Discipline Matters

What many people outside the arts don’t understand, is that succeeding in this gig takes as much discipline as it does for the CEO, Athlete, Lawyer, Doctor.

In many cases it takes more, especially if you also have a day job. Because, your “night job” is a calling that we almost never feel equal to, in which we regularly disappoint ourselves, and from which the check is normally late-possibley by a decade or two. 

Sticking with something, for which you may never get paid, and doing it with full-blown passion for years on end-takes… real discipline. 

Define “success”

…how you want, but to me it means succeeding aesthetically first, and financially later-which for most artists simply means turning some form of profit. 

However you define it, this kind of discipline means no screwing around. You don’t get there by going to all the parties, hanging out in all the bars, confiding in your friends and family, and talking about all the great work you want to do.

First, do the work

If you believe in yourself, if your goals are realistic, and if you’re driven, then you clamp your mouth shut and work your butt off.


Because you’re giving something to the world that is bigger than you, and more important than you.

In a sense you are serving others, and this requires great discipline. The end result will speak for you. Then you can go to all the parties and bars… at least until you start the next piece.

The haunting misconception

…is that artists indulge in substance abuse, are hopelessly idealistic, and devoid of discipline. This is hogwash. 

Some of the most disciplined people I’ve known have been sculptors, painters, and glass-blowers. Not only did they work very hard, but they had guts, laying everything on the line in a risky profession: their finances, their dreams, their futures.

Some realized the dream, many did not. But every one of them lived with courage and dignity and often a self-effacing humor. It’s that last quality that will save your sanity when all else appears to be failing. Oddly, it’s also a quality that can allow you to laugh off the failures, and persevere through to success.

Sure this is a tough life, full of sacrifices and hardship (although not like those of a Vietnamese rice farmer). I wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks (though I might for two).

2 Responses to “Don’t Kid Yourself, Discipline Matters”

  1. Lynne Oakes says:

    This is always a true thing, but never more than now. I used to hate the “D” word = Discipline because it seemed to come from the demands of others. Now it is mine, I apply it to myself and that is way better!
    Maybe this word has gotten a bad rap because of some of its definitions.
    Here are a few from and I vote for number 2!:
    1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
    2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
    3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
    4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
    5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control: good discipline in an army.
    6. a set or system of rules and regulations

  2. Ariane says:

    Definitely, Lynne. Like most of life, it’s better when it comes from a centered place of self awareness; a choice that increases the flame of our life energy.

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