Ron Kosloff, Discipline: The Elusive Quality (2010)

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It’s the endeavor that separates winners from losers, champions from non champions, successful people from non-successful people, and most assuredly, it’s a quality that’s quickly disappearing in America. Why, because mass marketing is controlling our lives, telling us that we should all be the same, to dress the same, drink the same and eat the same fast food, etc., etc! Everything is the same and it’s all done to make money of course. Mass marketing of products is what helped the economy and the wages of the average American and of course no one ever thought that it would come home to roost in our brains. Mass marketing brains, mass marketing idiots, mass marketing people, who can’t think for themselves, who need the television to tell them what to do, like Homer Simpson. The result is that they are doing our thinking for us, making everything easier, or so it seems.

Don’t make anything difficult. We had a generation that fought the Second World War and they were called the greatest generation, well, I have one disagreement with the greatest generation. The biggest mistake they made is to say that their children weren’t going to have it as tough as they did. Well, tough is subjective, what is tough? During the boom and the glory years and the monetary years resulted in us turning our children into spoiled rotten brats. The great Ernie Harwell once said, “We’ve ruined our children giving them everything we never had.” These children want everything the easy way. Consequently, when you are taught about receiving something the easy way you are then not taught to strive, work or apply yourself, so now, the easy way is not the best way. Everything you learn in life builds character. Everything that you are challenged with and have to struggle through builds self-esteem and gives you a sense of gratitude and appreciation. Discipline is something the average American doesn’t possess anymore. The end result is it ends up being in the hands of the 10-15%. Vince Gironda was the greatest bodybuilding and trainer that ever lived. He created a physique through hard work and mental discipline of bodybuilding principles and nutrition. Have you ever envisioned or realized how difficult that was with no steroids! Vince would say, “I get in shape by deciding to do so.” But deciding to do so involves deciding to get up off the couch and go to the gym and work out.

Vince built the greatest natural physique, shape and definition that bodybuilding has ever seen. As I mentioned before, I saw Vince in a tank top when he was seventy years old and he could still enter a contest. I saw a famous Detroit bodybuilder that now lives on the West Coast and was a Mr. Olympia contestant years ago. He looked like a kid, a shriveled up prune, because he didn’t build his physique naturally. Look at the great Arnold Schwarzenegger, does he have his physique any longer? I don’t think so. When Vince retired to train people he wrote a manual called, Why Champs Muscle Look Different. Vince wrote this book and he patterned it after two of the best bodybuilders of their era, Larry Scott and Frank Zane. By all accounts and practical purposes Frank and Larry were mentally, the ultimate disciplinarians. Although Larry wasn’t as gifted, he won two straight Mr. Olympia’s. I could make this article extended and long by naming all the people who applied discipline and became winners and became champions but I want to keep the article fairly short. This could be applied to any endeavor in American success, whether it’s an athlete, a body builder, a physique champion, a swimmer, a business man, the end result is discipline. We’ve lost it. We’ve become so lazy we don’t even want to work anymore.

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Kids are content now playing their computer games and sitting on their duffs watching TV, eating potato chips, McDonald’s and drinking pop. To say I can do it, I look at myself. I keep my house, my office and my general surroundings organized. My store and warehouse is not trashed, there is a degree of discipline, a degree of structure. Sometimes when I come home at night and I want to hit the bed, it’s easy to drop my shorts and socks and throw them on the floor. That would be easy. But I hang them up, put them on the dresser, I have a place for my keys. It’s very easy to be undisciplined. There is a certain amount of satisfaction to say, I can do it! I can do it! I put a friend of mine on a nutritional program for a deficiency that he had and it worked. But he was so accustomed to being undisciplined he abandoned the program saying, I just can’t do it, I just can’t be that disciplined. Sadly, he was never taught discipline. That is a tragedy because today he is a very sick man with a multitude of deficiencies and illnesses and on a bunch of prescription drugs. If only he would have applied himself, if only he would have been more disciplined, it would have been so conducive to him, so beneficial. I look around the world and I see the Japanese, the Chinese, with a great degree of discipline. I see the Scandinavian countries with a great degree of discipline. America fought the Second World War against a country that was the size of Michigan and Indiana, called Germany. That little country almost conquered the whole world. It took the mobilized world to consolidate its armaments and forces to beat Adolf Hitler. Because he had one thing, discipline.

This is an exaggerated discipline for conquering the world and for war but you can put discipline for evil works and for good works. They chose evil, but discipline can be applied to anything in your life and it’s very, very satisfying. A friend of mine told his kids to take the garbage out. It was about thirty feet from the house to the curb and they argued for fifteen minutes why they couldn’t take the garbage out. It would have taken them exactly thirty seconds to walk the garbage to the curb and walk back to the house, but they couldn’t do it. In life sometimes, we have to do things that we don’t want to do, possibly seeing it as part of the package shines a new light on it. To say, I can do it, is a monumental achievement and I guess there is only a certain number of people that can attain this goal, more should, less do. 40% of all American families are now single parent families and they are being taught at day care centers, not by their parents! Another American tragedy. Does it pay dividends to be 100% disciplined, no, no, no. Once in a while you’ve got to let go of the reins. In retrospect, jobs being too disciplined can create severe mental problems. In the East they call it Yin and Yang.

Physical-Fitness

I think extremism in anything is very detrimental both physically and mentally. I’ve seen many, many body builders that were just consumed and driven to the enth degree. Balance is what Vince (and Mother Nature) always preached. Nature preaches balance. Personally, I love ice cream. When I grew up on the farm Grandpa would say, you kids did all your chores so we’ll make ice cream on Saturday night. Even today, every couple of months, I’ll stop and buy a pint of ice cream and kill it. Then that’s it. Ultra discipline can create ultra stress. I’ve seen people that were so utterly disciplined and consumed that it led to a mental breakdown. I think the words here are balance and control. If a person can attain that balance and control, their life can be pretty decent. I always tell people that when I was a kid I was a dreamer, my mind would dream and wander. Today when a child does that, they put them on a drug and call it attention deficit. One of the things that helped me in body building immensely was to concentrate and focus and close my eyes and envision each muscle getting as big a bowling ball! It worked and now I knew the secret for me. Positive visualization.

There is a story told of 20 victims in a concentration camp. They decided to envision the daily slop that was fed to them as a steak, potato and vegetable. They envisioned these meals feeding their bodies and keeping them healthy and strong. On average, those twenty individuals held an extra twenty pounds on their frame versus the rest of the population that were, in some cases, dying from malnutrition. So don’t underestimate the power of your mind and concentration in all you do. This is a key element in working a program of discipline in your life. “What you see, you can be,” says a close friend of mine often. Continue each day to see yourself in the best light possible. Do whatever it takes but make your life 85% disciplined and of course we come back to the 85-15 again. In order to be successful at anything, one must have this balance.

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Any addiction, alcoholism, smoking or anything that becomes out of control, 85% of the people don’t make it, 15% do. Then again surround yourself with intelligent, positive people. Don’t surround yourself with negative people or drinkers or smokers or drug takers or they’ll drag you down and your balance will be eradicated. Years ago I had started working for General Motors and I was going to school three days a week. I was working out four days a week. I was working 58 hours six days a week and I was building my custom car. After I was done I said, how did I do that? The answer, discipline! But I did it and I was proud as hell that I did do it. If you want to chat about it sometime, feel free to call me.

Thanks for your ear, Ron

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