On having a disciplined life

It’s taken for granted that to get what you want out of life, one needs discipline. And discipline is akin to fuel — without it, we remain forever where we are. Our health problems, our boredom, our emotional dysfunction, everything remains static as the world and our bodies change. This brings a feeling of malaise, unhappiness and possibly depression as we see our time left evaporating at an ever increasing pace and nothing to show for it.

However, in a post-achievement mindset, where you don't give a fuck about becoming anything, what is the purpose of discipline? When one is intentionally directionless, when there is no longer a race, or many races to be run, when there is no future outcome desired or feared, what is the purpose of fuel? Where are you traveling and why?

Perhaps the transformation needs to be from seeing discipline as a tool, to discipline as a practice. Like a sport, or a career or an art form, discipline could be an end to itself, to master one’s mind is the closest we can come to realizing intention and feeling control.

In that scenario, discipline is less like a fuel and more like a lubricant. It is the ability to create torque when there is only inertia or like an Aikido practitioner, to redirect energy and return to inertia. It is not the fuel to take you to some great and transient achievement like a perfect body, a private island, a sell out concert, a sexual fantasy, a loving family. Maybe it is simply the power to accommodate the randomness of the world and certainty of mortality so one can stay in the center, directionless, but not directed.

Originally published at http://www.jacobsingh.name on May 24, 2015.

Jacob Singh
CTO in residence at Sequoia Capital. Independent product and Engineering Coach Mediocre guitarist, singer, rock climber, point guard and baker Dedicated dad. American in New Delhi.
New Delhi