Are You Disciplined Enough to Fail?

Thoughts of disciplined leadership often ignite memories of the infamous legend of Alexander the Great and the “Siege of the Sogdian Rock.” The story goes that Alexander’s out numbered army intimidated Oxyartes of Bactria into surrendering by obeying their commander’s order to march, even when it meant marching over a cliff. Surely their discipline was key to their winning.

But could losing require more discipline than winning?

Last night, two rival college teams–both loaded with talent and a will to win–competed in the most anticipated game of the season. One college took an early lead, and was putting 2 points to the other team’s 1. At the half, the score read 37 to 15. It was over.

Or was it? Shockingly, the trailing team came out strong and fought hard. The score came within 20, and then within 10. As fans lost their voices screaming on both sides, both teams began to realize that this was anyone’s game. Although the underdog never took the lead, they played with heart and intensity, down to the last second.

How did this team stay disciplined against the odds?

They won the mental battle

Missed shots and low scores did not shake them. They took every shot as if it were the game’s first. Discipline chooses not to believe that the situation is hopeless.

They did not assign blame.

I have no idea what was said in that locker room, but not once did the fans see teammates get angry at each other. Healthy teams attack problems and encourage people.

They played their game.

While some teams are all about watching what the other team is doing, others just play their game. You cannot let competitors dictate your life. Know what you do best and do it.

They never gave up. 

Not one person in the crowd tonight could accuse the lagging team of “checking out.” If you are sure your goal and your method of attack is right, resign yourself to relentless pursuit.

While it requires discipline to be a great team, successes solidify training. Keeping things under control in the face of failure requires another measure of commitment. It was a great game, and I am proud of both teams. I am also thankful I could learn discipline from both of them.

How do you stay disciplined when the opposition seems insurmountable?


  1. I’ve been running sound for churches since I was 15. The real test of an operator is what they do after they mess up. Everyone is going to make mistakes. But those that dwell on the mistakes lose focus and make more mistakes – which only turns into a vicious cycle.
    The best operators shake mistakes off immediately and keep going. As much as I hate making mistakes, I realize that they’re in the past and I can only focus on operating the console from here on out.

    • That goes along with Jason’s comment: You have to get your eyes back on the target! Great illustration too, as we have all been in settings where the (grossly unappreciated) tech crew made mistakes. 

  2. For me it’s a matter of keeping my eyes on the end goal. Raising monthly salary support, fundraising money for the mission trips, even just doing my duties within Ignite when it seems like nothing is happening can be difficult. But I’m not in it for the short term. I have a goal in mind and even if it takes 10 years to see it happen, I’m keeping my eyes on that goal.

  3. These are some great life lessons. It’s easy when your winning but it takes a true winner to keep moving forward when they are losing. This is when the true winners come out. I have tried to play my own game to me this means running and focusing on what I’m called to do and become.

  4. Love it.  It’s so easy to lose before the games over, and concede when you still have a chance to come back.  Thanks for the reminder, Noah.

Speak Your Mind