Commentary: Self-discipline: a highly effective business leader trait

Commentary: Self-discipline: a highly  effective business leader trait
August 02
10:01 2018

By Algenon Cash

I often highlight that success in any dimension of your life will require three important qualities – hard work, strong relationships and unrelenting self-discipline.  If you want to improve your golf game, then you must practice long hours (hard work), you may enlist the support of a close friend with better skills (relationships), and you certainly have to discover how to better control yourself and overall muscle movements (self-discipline).

Or perhaps you’ve been dreaming about starting your own business and you’re ready to move the idea into reality.  I can attest that you must be ready to work very long hours, build relationships with other business owners and professionals who can support you, and develop habits that motivate you to do things others may despise.

In my series on “How to Become a Highly Effective Business Leader,” I’ll share wisdom from all three important areas – but in this article I want to focus on the need for self-discipline and share insider tips on how you can grow this space in your life.

1. Always plan for the long term – It’s highly tempting to prioritize short-term goals over a long-term vision because life has grown to be competitive.  We often pay too close attention to what others may be doing, which is easily done in our new world that is connected 24/7 via social media.  We scroll through our timeline and see that a high school friend just got married, a relative started a business, or a co-worker bought a new car.  We immediately want that for ourselves and may inadvertently choose to sacrifice what we are truly focused on in the long-term.

2. Set a daily routine – If you want to make God laugh, then tell Him your plans.  Every day will always be different and only God knows what is to come, but you should have a rundown of what your ideal day may look like.  Determine three to five tasks that you want to accomplish daily.  Always prioritize critical objectives before those that are less urgent.

3. Be genuinely enthusiastic – Challenges will come and they will go, but the way you respond is far more imperative.  Develop a strong passion and zeal for whatever goals you have identified as being meaningful for your life, so that when challenges come you’ll have the energy to give your best effort.

4. Critical thinking is paramount – Adopt a sense of innovation with anything you do in life.  Be prepared to think outside the box and explore unchartered methods to problem solving.  You must take large risks to accomplish extraordinary goals and learn how to get outside your comfort zone while maintaining a positive attitude.

5. Read, read, and read – Every morning, I consume news from sources all over the world, including right in my own backyard.  This daily task not only keeps me informed about what’s happening in government, industry, and the overall community – but it also provides great conversation when I’m engaging with other colleagues or small talk before a meeting.  Instead of watching Netflix every night, curl up with a good book or your latest edition of The Chronicle.  Readers are leaders.

6. Care for yourself – If you want to be effective, then start by nurturing yourself.  It’s vital to get enough rest, exercise often, eat properly and manage stress in your life.  Schedule time for play and fun, which brings satisfaction and joy into your life, while reducing stress.  Find activities that bring your happiness, and then deliberately integrate them into your weekly mix.

Becoming a leader in anything requires a good set of habits that enable you to be self-disciplined; hopefully my insider tips will be helpful as you work to expand and gain new skills in your own life. 

In my next article, I’ll discuss what it means to work hard, and give you strategies on how to stay energized.  Contact me with questions and feedback, good luck!

Algenon Cash is a nationally recognized speaker and the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm. Reach him at

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