December 8, 2023

Discipline or compliance?

Author: George Couros
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I recently shared this image on Twitter:

This was written in my book “The Innovator’s Mindset,” and since then, my thoughts have evolved on the question.  I will get to that in a minute.

Here is one of the challenges I received on the question:

I agree to some extent with the comment. I don’t believe that these are an “either/or” scenario but empowerment is the end goal, yet compliance and engagement are steps in the process, not a final destination.

The word I want to focus on here is “discipline.” From what I have read in many comments, “compliance” and “discipline” get used interchangeably where there is a crucial distinction between the words. In my view, compliance is done to you by others. Discipline is something you do to and for yourself.  If you look at through the perspective of sports, compliance is listening to my coach and doing what I am told. Discipline is doing things that make me better when my coach isn’t necessarily asking or watching.  That will separate the good from the great.

When I think of “discipline,” this Muhammad Ali quote says it well:

Doing something challenging when you are not asked or pushed by others is not compliance; it is discipline.  Helping our learners develop that internally is crucial if we want “empowerment” to lead to success in the short and long term.

Source: George Couros

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