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“I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline.” –Vincent Lombardi

Discipline can mean different things to different people. To Lombardi, it meant hard work and sacrifice. Hard work isn’t just the number of hours invested or the blisters and bruises incurred. Hard work is discipline, the kind of focused effort that develops self-control. Discipline, born of hard work, helps you make the difficult decisions. It helps you embrace the pain associated with change. It helps you stay on track in the face of stress, pressure, and fear.

Discipline is also sacrifice, giving up one thing for the sake of another. Achievement involves choices, and choices mean sacrifice. Despite what today’s advertisements tell us, you can’t have it all. If you decide to get to the office an hour earlier to get your paperwork done before the phone starts ringing, you must either sacrifice an hour of sleep or go to bed or get up an hour earlier (even if that means skipping your favorite late-night TV program). Study the great performers in any field—music, theater, sports—and you will find that they all possess an enormous degree of discipline, a sense of duty. They have learned self-control, and they exercise it.

All too often, our culture celebrates success without any sweat. Our media tend to focus on people who achieve their goals in a seemingly effortless way—the “overnight success.”

There are no overnight successes!

“No one who shuns the blows and the dust of battle wins a crown,” said St. Basil.

All those people we celebrate for their “effortless” success have actually put a lot of hard work and sacrifice into preparing for their moment of victory. They may make it look easy; they may even talk in a way that makes their achievement sound inevitable. But if you look and listen carefully, you will see, just below the surface, hard work and sacrifice.

“Once you have established the goals you want and the price you’re willing to pay, you can ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and the temporary failures.” –Vincent Lombardi

A consistent theme for Coach Lombardi was “paying the price.” He felt that achievement required the habits of commitment, mental toughness, passion, hard work, and the willingness to make sacrifices.

It stings and it hurts when you fall short of your goal. The Packers didn’t win every game; nobody does. Sometimes you just want to crawl into a corner and lick your wounds. You don’t want to think about work this weekend, and you certainly don’t want to go to that Monday morning meeting with your VP or your manager. But that’s the price you pay (hard work and sacrifice) to get into the arena.

“Winning is not everything—but making the effort to win is.” –Vincent Lombardi

From “What It Takes to Be Number One” byVince Lombardi & Vince Lombardi Jr.
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