Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learning Discipline vs Being Disciplined

Saturday morning, teaching the candidates class, Kyoshi made a comment which has stuck with me: You come to the dojo to learn discipline. Not to be disciplined.

I've been thinking about this since then. It's a distinction that intrigues me and which I wish I fully understood. I wish everyone understood it.

Discipline should be internal and self-motivated. That seems clear. But beyond that, my understanding is murky.
  • Is discipline a habit that can be learned through others providing external motivation?
  • Is it a clever organization of incentives?
  • What is this self-discipline of the second pledge?
Being in the parenting and education business, I'm very aware of the difference between internal motivation and external motivation. At the extreme, this is the difference between studying because you want to learn and studying because your parents tell you to.

In reality, the line between internal and external motivation appears gray to me. For instance, is it external motivation if a students want to get As so that she can get into a good college? Is it internal motivation if I work out everyday since I like to look and feel a certain way (and I know that if I do my wife will smile when she sees me)?



Sue C said...

Hi John

You ask some interesting questions! I think that self-discipline comes naturally to some people but needs to be acquired by others. I think having good role models can help here which is probably why a good martial arts dojo can provide the right environment for achieveing this.

I have one son who is naturally self-disciplined in just about everything he does (lucky me!) but my younger son seems to be able to turn it on and off depending on what the reward for his efforts is! I suppose this is where discipline is linked to motivation.

I think motivation is internal when there is no expectation of a tangiable reward for the behaviour other than it made you feel good i.e altruism. If your behaviour is driven by the expectation of reward i.e there is a clear goal to achieve be it getting into a good college or pleasing your partner then I think the motivation is externally driven.

In martial arts perhaps those people who demonstrate self discipline simply because they enjoy the training and want to be good at it and become better people are internally motivated to train, whereas people whose discipline is related to achieveing the next belt are probably externally motivated.

I suspect that for most people self-discipline can be internally motivated for some things and needs to be externally motivated for others. Although life is easier for you and others if you are internally motivated to succeed I don't think one should consider internal motivation to be superior to external motivation - we are only human!

Unknown said...

What I think about discipline is that it cannot be taught it is perceived by a person having strong motivation to posses it.
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