Monthly Archives: November 2012




Is Discipline Required?

Friday, November 16, 2012

A friend recently said to me, “I want to work for myself, but I don’t have the discipline.” Is it true? Do some people actually suffer from a lack of self-direction?  I am a recovering accountant with discipline and planning ingrained in my DNA, and I often take it for granted.  If you aren’t passionate about generating and completing to-do lists, are you destined to work for someone else?  I started thinking about the successful business owners I know, and I wondered why they have the “discipline” to succeed. Just what does discipline mean when it comes to owning a business? The entrepreneurs I know and work for are all very different.  Some follow the regiments of military marines while others have a hard time making scheduled meetings.   The common thread I see with extraordinary entrepreneurs is their ability to successfully build a team with varying talents and skills so that as a group, there is great focus and accountability.  A lack of discipline is not a good reason to not become an entrepreneur.  Find a partner or team of people who can help you with the mastery needed to reach your dreams.

Based on my twenty-six years of financial planning experience, contrary to what many think, you do not need to be disciplined to successfully achieve your financial goals. However, you must reach out for help and set up a plan that puts you on a managed path for success.  If you aren’t wired like a clock, you can still buy your dream home, reduce your debt, save for retirement and achieve many other financial goals.  Having helped literally thousands of people manage their 401k over my career, I concur with industry statistics showing that if people must be disciplined enough to sign up for and manage their own 401k account, 90% or more will never do it.  To help the 90%, we create a fully managed program that puts them on the path for a successful retirement.  When we are able to do this for employees, we get 70% to 95% on a path for successful retirement.  Just last week, I reported our managed approach results to a retirement plan client.  With the managed plan, 82% of the company’s 103 employees are on a successful path for retirement vs. only 32% before offering the managed plan.

Many people believe lack of discipline is the missing ingredient to succeed and as a result don’t try.  I can relate to that feeling when it comes to fly fishing.  I’ve read a number of fishing books and am never afraid to ask questions when I’m with true fishermen, the ones who have it in their DNA.  They know where to look and when to cast, what fly to use and when to change strategies.  I’m often not sure I have what it takes to succeed because I question whether I have the genetic composition to be a successful fisherman.  Should I no longer fish? Should I be banned from the great rivers, sidelined to watch as masters enjoy the fisherman’s life? I hope not! Having had success with guides and great fisherman but rarely able to catch a fish when I am alone, I am convinced that I’m the kind of fisherman that needs to travel with masters to catch my dream fish. I can go out on my own, but I will have more success and definitely more fun teaming up with master anglers I can learn from.  That’s not such a bad deal.

To catch the personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish are you going after, you don’t need to be disciplined if you can partner with people who are.  Together, you too can catch your dream fish. More importantly, you will have control over how you catch it, choosing the rivers and streams or oceans you fish in.

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

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