Conscious choice

(First published September 20, 2012.)

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”

That’s what Jim Collins says at the end of “Good to Great and the Social Sectors.”

morning reflection“Creativity is natural. Discipline is not. The marriage of creativity and discipline is key to leadership success.” Collins said that at the Global Leadership Summit.

Understandably, he’s been getting under my skin a lot recently. Because discipline is not something I enjoy.

I like to believe it’s because I am creative and flexible and empathetic and introverted. I’m beginning to think that it’s because, at times, I’m just lazy.

To avoid arguments, I probably should back away from the word “lazy” and stick with “undisciplined.” That is a word that leaves room for improvement, that allows for learning and growing.

I’m amused that I am reading so much Collins (Good to Great, Great is a Choice) at the same time that I am studying Nehemiah at the same time I am learning Colossians at the same time I am reading Center Church at the same time I am starting to help write a course on church administration at the same time I’m part of a group looking at vision. You all see the pattern I only see in retrospect.

All of them are about clearly identifying a project, a passion, a vision, and then pursuing with steady discipline. A thousand small steps. Two hundred days of oatmeal for lunch in a row.

I know that one of the things that has kept me from reading Collins in the past is concern with definitions of “great.” Modesty prevents us from pursuing “greatness”, right?

What that means, unfortunately, is that we too often pursue good enoughness with a half heart.

But Nehemiah is curing disciplining me.