So many things are talked about when people speak of a champion athlete; Talent, Training, Coaching, Opportunity, Genetics. The list is goes on. A word that is used less frequently and even then often out of context is discipline. Without discipline all of the other factors are worthless. It is discipline that breeds the single most important thing when it comes to performance, and that is consistency. Consistency is more important than anything else because it can make up for any shortcoming in your training, diet, genetics, or anything else. The list of champions that trained in sub-optimal conditions, had sub-optimal diets, or sub-optimal lifestyles is a long one. Their situation wasn’t ideal, but they applied themselves without compromise. They did their best with what they had every single day.
As an MMA fighter, there were many things that I lacked; I wasn’t very explosive, I didn’t have especially long arms or legs, and in the early 2000’s no one on our team knew how to tape hands or design a training program. My sleep and training schedules were a mess, because I was also a police officer working 12hr days, nights, afternoons and weekends. How did I overcome all of that and beat guys that were better athletes and more experienced? The first thing I had was a blessing. I had an absolutely savage group of friends in Justin Bruckmann, Antonio Carvalho, Richard Nancoo, and Adrian Wooley. They and so many others in our circle at that time were so dangerous that no opponent was ever going to intimidate me. The second thing I had was discipline.
I was fortunate to recognize my shortcomings early. I knew that the only way I would ever have a shot at winning was to outwork my opponent. Every single day was grind, and I loved it. On dayshift I’d wake up at 530am for work, lift weights on my lunch hour around 11am, finish my shift at 7pm, go to practice and get beat up, then go to bed at 1030pm. The next day was the same. On nightshift I’d go to the academy before work and do an hour of bag work by myself, go to work from 7pm to 7am, catch a few hours sleep and go to practice at noon. It wasn’t a great training schedule, but I was consistent. I slept when I could. I prepped my food as best I could. I didn’t miss a workout. I didn’t party. Becoming the best fighter I could was my sole purpose.
I’m well aware that my success as a fighter is modest compared many others. Some of the men I fought had tremendous discipline and went on to have much greater careers that I did. My point is, that without discipline I would have achieved nothing.
Without discipline you stay out late, depriving your body of the sleep it needs to recover from training. Without discipline you eat or drink things that push your goals further out of reach. Without discipline you skip a workout because your training partner can’t make it, you forgot your special shoes, or it’s just too nice outside to be in the gym. Without discipline, your talent, sporadic efforts, opportunities, and the time of those people that support you are all wasted.