There’s a 58-story luxury skyscraper in downtown San Francisco called the Millennium Tower. It was designed to house the city’s wealthiest residents—the penthouses within are some of the west coast’s most expensive—and provide them with on-site amenities like a four-star French restaurant and wine bar.
BUT, there’s a problem with the tower; it’s sinking into the ground.
The building was completed in 2008, and in the last ten years, it has sunk a not-insignificant 17 inches. It’s also leaning 6 inches to the northeast, and the tilt is getting worse. The building’s developer is blaming the nearby construction and a new city transportation hub built in 2010. But regardless of who’s to blame, the fact is, the gleaming 58-story structure has sunk by almost a foot and a half. I can’t begin to imagine how they’ll fix this one. I’m sure there are some brilliant structural engineers being paid a fortune as we speak to deal with this fiasco.
My point is not to discuss structural engineering, but rather, to provide an analogy: Even a world-class skyscraper is only as good as its foundation. A building’s foundation has to withstand the elements: rain, flooding, salt, sun, wind, snow, freezing rain, and everything in between. And it has to withstand the unexpected: that nearby construction the developer didn’t plan for. If a building can’t do those things, it doesn’t matter how elegant it is, or how good the wine list is at the restaurant. The building will collapse.
I can’t even begin to describe the amount of stress, money problems, staff emergencies, and customer issues I’ve had to withstand during my 27-year tenure as company president. Most days it felt like I was standing outside, being pelted by the elements, waiting for something to take me down.
Just like a tall building.
And as a tall building requires a strong foundation to withstand the elements, I stood on the foundation of one key trait/habit that has served as my core building block and has provided me with my strong foundation. Without it, I would fall, just like the Millennium Tower.
And what is that habit?
Discipline. Discipline in three key areas
Disciplined with my money. To lead a financially disciplined life, you have to know when to say no.
It’s easy to say yes. Say yes to the dress, the new car, the new house, the new boat, the nice vacation. It’s significantly easier to say yes to spending than it is to say no. Living a disciplined life means knowing when to say no and understanding delayed gratification.
Disciplined with my time. There will always be competing demands on your time. But time is a finite commodity. If you’re spending your time in a useless meeting, or a sales call that goes nowhere, you’ll never get that time back. Treat your days as you do your dollars: as something precious.
Disciplined with my goal-setting. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there. You must always have a dream. Live by the expression: “If you don’t have a dream, you’ll never have a dream come true.”
Master the habit of discipline in these three core areas of your life, and your chances of success increase exponentially.