Lloyd Percival was a sports and fitness coach for a variety of professional athletes and Olympians, including Gordie Howe. In 1951 he wrote The Hockey Handbook as a way to improve Canadian hockey players, but for him it was more than practicing hockey skills – it was about breathing control, calisthenics, and setting personal goals – new concepts in the world of competitive sports.
Percival is known for his mantra: Keep fit. Work hard. Play fair. Live clean. He believed it didn’t just apply to sports, but to life – it is the way he ended each of his columns in the Ottawa Citizen, and something he taught his grandchildren. Self-discipline leads to personal achievements, happiness, and long-term satisfaction. Someone with high self-discipline doesn’t make choices based on impulses or temporary feelings, but based on the way they want to live their life. It’s not necessarily that they are better at resisting temptation, but that they avoid situations that may tempt them in the first place.
Game Plan: To improve your self-discipline, first you have to decide what behaviour best reflects your goals and values. It might help to create a mission statement of your own that is a quick reminder of who you want to be. Be aware of the times when you are undisciplined so that you know what tempts you and can work to change your behaviour or avoid those situations in the future. Encourage yourself and celebrate the small victories. As they accumulate, your confidence will grow and it will become easier to make decisions that fit with your goals.