How important is self-discipline in business success?


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How much discipline do you have when it comes to business?

Let’s look at three people who personify success – and all got there through self-discipline. While they’re in three very different industries, there is a remarkable amount they have in common. And what’s perhaps most interesting is how success in motor sports, entertainment, and technology can each be related to the world of the entrepreneur.

In short, if you follow these three, you can’t go far wrong.

So let’s look at how they became so self-disciplined, and how you can apply that same approach to your working life. 

  • Lewis Hamilton
  • Mark Wahlberg
  • Steve Jobs


Lewis Hamilton

It might seem that Lewis Hamilton was just destined for Formula 1 greatness, but with each successful step towards his goal came a huge amount of passion, focus and self-discipline.

Even as a junior racing go-karts he was finding success (and that’s after racing radio controlled cars when he was just six). It wasn’t like the family had a huge amount of money to fund his dream of becoming a driver. But somehow Hamilton went, as one critic noted, from being worth zero pounds to two hundred million.

That’s quite a jump.

Hamilton has used some key approaches in order to achieve his:

  • Total clarity on what you’re focusing on – never waiver
  • Reverse engineer everything – work out what you want, then work out the steps to get it
  • Always remember your end goal
  • Timing is everything – be strategic
  • Avoid distractions – focus on the big picture


With those points in mind, Hamilton really used an athlete’s approach, particularly around physical conditioning and boosting his mental clarity. That meant eating clean, non-stop training, and focusing on being consistent. It’s doing the same things again and again that leads to success.

Just like business, Formula 1 never stops. You’re always training, testing or competing. In business you’re planning, executing, selling, marketing. But having the right focus – remembering why you’re doing each of these things – is so vital to ensure that you stay on track. Have that end goal always in sight, however far away it might be.

And do all of this in the knowledge that success isn’t overnight.

True, not everyone is going to be a six-time world champion, but everyone can start to emulate the kind of self-discipline Hamilton has leveraged to take him to the top of his field.

Mark Wahlberg

He might have won an academy award and be worth over USD 200m, but when you look at Mark Wahlberg’s focus on self-discipline, it has echoes for anyone in business.

How many times have we heard that successful people get up early? Wahlberg is no different – starting his day at 4 a.m. with a work-out, then he goes to church. He says that after that start, he feels he can accomplish anything. Now, whether you’re a religious person or not it’s hard to argue with taking physical exercise then also taking some spiritual time to yourself before starting your day.

As we’ll see with Steve Jobs, that may take the form of meditation – or in the case of Wahlberg it’s church. Either way, it’s quietening the mind, getting in the right place to achieve everything you want out of your day.

Wahlberg is an expert at ‘time’. Despite having multiple projects, he’s known for always being there when something is needed. And there are a lot of them – acting, restaurant ownership, fitness chain investor, even a car dealership ownership. The point is, he has great visibility over all his projects, and he only takes on what he feels passionate about.

Some Wahlberg tips:

  • However successful you become, work like you have nothing
  • Monitor your life – are you on track?
  • Being consistent generates discipline
  • If you really want something, you’ll always make time for it


His routine may seem extreme, but for Wahlberg this strict discipline actually breeds freedom. Like Hamilton, he’s in the physical and mental shape to attack any business goal that may present itself, and he’s able to quickly evaluate an idea to figure out whether it’s something that’s worth his time.

If he decides that it is, then he’s all in.

Steve Jobs

For Wahlberg it’s church, for Steve Jobs it was meditation that he used to reduce stress, gain more clarity, and boost his creativity.

Jobs’ idea of discipline was that it was something you practice, something you do every day, something you repeat. It’s not a one-off. It’s truly taking some time out to sit and observe your mind, to see how restless it is, and to try to calm it.

This then creates clarity in your thinking and gives you a few moments of your working day away from all the noise. That’s when creativity can really take flight.

Jobs was certainly ahead of his time, but these days some major companies – from Google to Ford – are starting to introduce their employees to mindfulness. With a positive effect on both mind and body.

Why take quiet time when you feel you should always be working?

  • It helps eliminate stress
  • It can help battle insomnia
  • It allows you to think more clearly and creatively
  • It boosts your overall productivity


For Jobs, the idea of being focused was key. He was focused to the point of obsession – all the more reason to have relaxing meditation away from work to clear the mind.

And Jobs, like Wahlberg, was great at looking at an idea and deciding whether it was worth his time. Here’s how he approached it:

  • An idea may be great – but does it line up with your overall goals?
  • When an idea presents itself, put it through the ringer. Are you ready to make sacrifices for this to work?
  • Learn to say no


Stay disciplined

Motor sport, entertainment, technology. Very different worlds. But for the entrepreneur looking to build their business, analysing the best in different fields always brings great returns. Look at how they used discipline to achieve their goals, then see what you can implement in your own working life.