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My word for this week is discipline.

In March 2020, when the U.S. was on the verge of a “two-week” lockdown due to the coronavirus, I knew that the estimate was optimistic, to say the least. I wasn’t sure what was in store for us, but I was convinced that faith and optimism alone wouldn’t save me; I needed to deploy “The Stockdale Paradox.”

Admiral James Stockdale was a prisoner during the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1973. When he returned to the U.S. after the war, Jim Collins interviewed Stockdale about his experience as a POW for his book Good to Great. The Admiral’s response became known as the Stockdale Paradox. He said:

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

I wrote Stockdale’s quote on a whiteboard in my office and kept it there for over a year to remind myself that faith alone wasn’t going to carry me to the other side of the pandemic. I needed to rely on discipline if I wanted to succeed.

Yes, faith is sometimes all that we have left when things are at their worst. But we still need discipline to face the obstacles that await us.

In 1888, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” One hundred thirty-six years later, I disagree with Nietzsche’s famous quote. I would tell him that what doesn’t kill you only means that you must face the obstacle in front of you—sometimes again and again—until you figure out how to get past it. Discipline reveals itself in the “again and again” part of that battle.

In business, my advice is to use discipline to accurately assess and respond to your current landscape. Let discipline guide your daily actions, not just when inspiration strikes. And let discipline reveal the clarity and purpose you need to light your path to success.

Brian Moran

Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

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