Here’s to you Mr & Mrs Jackson*  With the rain and wind in my face, I run up the hill for the tenth time.  This is one of my fitness sessions – hill repetitions which I believe will help with my stamina and strengthen my joints.  To be honest, I didn’t really want to do this session this morning because of the weather, and I could think of lots of other things I could do instead which are less exhausting and painful. 

So why do I do it?  After forty years of running, I am still looking to improve.  In a nutshell, this is self-discipline.

After the first leadership lesson I learned about putting other people first  this is the second lesson I learned as a young man of 16 at the Army’s Junior Leaders Battalion.  How can you manage and lead others if you can’t manage yourself? Self-discipline was always the order of the day.

What is self-discipline?

  • The ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses.
  • The regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.
  • The ability to do the things that need to be done

5 Disciplines that will set you free

  1. Controlling your thoughts and behaviours.  Give yourself a good talking to everyday.
  2. Persistence continuous  (perseverance and tenacity) – you are in it for the long game.
  3. Training.   Athletes know if they skip even one training session, they are already behind if they don’t follow through with their plan.
  4. Surrounding yourself with people who are self-disciplined (and positive). They will inspire you and support you.  My family do this for me.
  5. Commit. Self-Discipline is a practice. Accept you will not be perfect every day. What is important though is to turn up each day ready to go. So, what changes am I going to make today?

7 things I needed to do to maintain self-discipline

  1. Build routines into my timetableOnce I have a routine, I start doing things automatically, so they become a habit.   This morning I went swimming at the local leisure centre at 6am.  The previous night I laid out the kit I needed so that I was all set to jump into my car at 5.30am to go to the Leisure Centre.  This will now become a habit.
  2. Set Goals – Setting a goal(s), decide why and how it is going to help you develop, this gives you a laser like-focus/purpose.
  3. Incremental growth, making small incremental improvements towards my goal(s).   For instance, I want to come first in my age group for a Parkrun (5KM) in Colchester later in the year (this is an objective)  Each month I will increase my mileage by 10% and add cross training, such as weights, into my programme.
  4. For some people meditation works – I used to work for someone who regularly took breaks to mediate.  For me visualisation works – visualising the achievement of the goal I set.  I used this technique to run under 16 minutes for 5Km – and then achieved this time consistently.
  5. Self-Control – the instant and immediate temptation for self-gratification.  At the moment it is trying to control my urge to eat chocalate.  I don’t drink or smoke, but it is a constant battle to avoid Mars bars and Turkish Delights.
  6. Monitor, Review and Evaluate my thoughts and actions especially when it comes to achieving my goals
  7. Ensure I get 7-8 hours’ sleep then get up early and hit the ground running.
* My daughter, Bettina, sitting with Mr and Mrs Jackson during Covid19

Each time I reach the top of the hill I bow to Mr & Mrs Jackson.  Although I didn’t know them, I feel I do in some way, and it is important to pay my respects.  There is a name plate on the bench that overlooks Lexden Springs (Colchester) in memoriam of Mr Jackson 1923-1976 and Mrs Jackson 1925–2015.  RIP 


We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication & discipline”

Jesse Owens

Steve Raw