“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Self-Discipline isn’t about self-denial. If you think it is, that’s why it’s not working for you. Self-Discipline isn’t about trying to force yourself to behave according to some arbitrary list of Shoulds and Oughts. It’s certainly not about killing your desire.

On the contrary, it’s about connecting more viscerally and consistently to your desire. I’m not talking about junk food or video games here; those are just surface urges that come and go like the wind. I talking about the things you really deeply desire for your life and those you love.

Self-Discipline is simply the regular practice of choosing what you want most over what you want right now.

The key to making it work? Getting really clear on what you want most ~ for yourself, for your life, for your relationships ~ and keeping that in front of you every day.

So here’s a 3-step process to build more self-discipline into your life.

1. Grab a journal, or just some paper and a pen, and for each area of the Whee of Life, write your answers to the questions below.

ACG Expanded Wheel Of Life

  • What kind of person do you most want to be in this area of your life? How would you describe him/her?
  • How do you most want to respond when things go wrong in this area, or something ticks you off?
  • What do you most want others to say about you when they observe you engaging with this area of your life?
  • What do you most want to change about this area of your life?
  • What’s one thing you would have to begin doing regularly for that change to happen?

2. Based on your responses, craft a list of one regular action you can begin to take in each of the areas of the Wheel that will move you toward creating what you most desire for that area of your life.

3. Once you have the list of actions, choose only one action from one section of the wheel (this is important!), and commit to putting it into practice. Do not add a second action until the first action has become automatic.

For example: If one of your deep desires is to deepen your relationship with your spouse, and your action step is to touch them and say you love them at least once every day, then make that your only assignment until it becomes so automatic you no longer have to think about it. Then (and only then!) move on to tackle another regular action from your list.

This is the way authentic change happens. We get connected to something we really desire, not out of self-loathing or fear, but out of self-love and love for others. Then we make one change. And once it sticks, we make one more. Before you know it, your entire life looks radically different, and immeasurably better, than you ever thought it could.

(By the way, if you’re trying to make some big changes in your life, and you’d like a little help, drop me a line. I’d love to talk!)


“As goes the rudder, so goes the ship.”

I posted this on Instagram last week, but it bears repeating here:

Check the photo. My personal strategy session, every new morning, happens here.

Each day is a miracle. A big part of success is learning to engage each new day with gratitude, and strategic intention. How do you want to show up today? What kind of person will you choose to be? What will you give your life to today? Developing a daily personal strategy session is key for me in this.

If you want an extraordinary life, you have to treat each day as extraordinary, full of possibility, and worthy of your best. That first hour sets the course for everything that follows.

If you want to know more about how to do a Personal Strategy Session, click here.

“How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.” ~ Stephen Covey


You may have noticed in recent weeks I’ve often tagged my tweets and Facebook posts with the hashtag #LiveWideAwake.

That’s because after all these years of working with coaching clients, I’ve concluded the thing people (including me) have struggled with most is waking up.

Of course I don’t mean literally “waking up” ~ as in don’t even think about talking to me before I get my coffee! (That’s important too, though. Seriously: Don’t talk to me before I get my coffee.) I mean waking up to the wonder and possibility of your life. I mean shaking yourself awake from the hazy, half-alive dream in which most people live their entire lives. In the years we live, we take on a series of roles and tasks that are handed to us as though they are the only possibilities that exist for our lives. School, graduation, job, marriage, kids, mortgage, retirement, death. You know the path as well as I do. We walk it out without the slightest question of why it matters, whether it’s God’s best for us or the world, or whether it’s really the life we want to create, and then wonder why when we reach middle age we so often discover the life we’ve built on autopilot isn’t really the life we wanted to live. Saint Augustine nailed it when he said:

“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”

Many people I coach come to me suddenly asking, Why isn’t my life working out like I hoped? They followed the script they were given; wasn’t that supposed to be enough? But regardless of whatever specific challenge they’re facing ~ career, family, faith, etc. ~ their struggle always seems to come back to the same fundamental question:

What does it look like to be fully alive?

The answer is different for everybody, of course ~ what makes me come fully alive might scare the crap out of you, or worse yet, bore you to tears. But underneath the specifics of each soul’s unique expression of life, there’s a common thread of desire we all share, a common experience we all want to have, and that all of us regularly struggle to find. Continue Reading…

My Story (Part 2)

February 9, 2015

(Hey, friend. This is the second part of My Story. You can read the first part here.)

As I write this, I’m in the latter half of my 50th year on Earth. As anyone my age or older will tell you, by the time you get here you’ve already been many different people and lived many different lives. There isn’t time here to recount them all. So let me tell you instead a little about the man I’ve become now, and why I’m so passionate about the work I do.

Continue Reading…

My Story (Part 1)

January 31, 2015

I don’t think I fit into any particular box very well.

I know because I’ve tried.

Man, have I tried.

I’m a native Texan, with all the big-hearted fun and ethnocentric pride that brings with it, but none of the southern drawl or cowhide boots or country music. I was always more spaceman than ranch hand, even as a boy. My dad loved cowboy heroes, but the Wild West could never capture my imagination like the Final Frontier could. I’m a devoted son of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and every brilliant or ridiculous film or TV show they’ve inspired. I have loved them all (and still do). As a boy growing up, when I wasn’t building model rockets, I was converting my bedroom into the bridge of the Enterprise and going on wild adventures where no young man had gone before.

Part of this was just the natural expression of my adventurous imagination. And part of it was because I really was trying desperately to get away, and this was the only way I knew how.

Continue Reading…


We call it Inspiration. Or a Creative Burst. Or the Voice of the Muse. Those enchanted blocks of time when we feel super-charged with creativity, clarity, and motivation to work. Our vision becomes clear. We know what we want to do, and we feel compelled to do it.

It’s like somebody plugged us in, and we feel compelled to burn bright as long as the inspiration lasts.

But it never does.

Why is that?

Like so many other things in our human experience (eating, breathing, sleeping, a woman’s sexual cycle, and so on) I believe creativity is a cyclical process in our lives. I believe that’s why we experience it as “coming” and “going”; why some days we can connect with our creativity, and other days we can’t no matter what we try. As we are constantly called on to “be creative” in our workplace, at home, in our social circles, as well as within the inner life of the soul, it can be immensely helpful to understand a bit about this “Creativity Cycle,” so we can begin to notice its natural rhythms in our lives, and come to work in alignment with it as much as possible, rather than constantly feeling as if we’re fighting against ourselves to try to constantly be creating.

So what is this “Creativity Cycle”?

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“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How strange the world is. I’m currently reading Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, and it’s such a peculiar miracle to me that through these writings, which I know he penned while sitting in a cell in Nazi Germany in 1943 (over 70 years ago), I can so easily join him there and become a voyeur to his experience. Writing, I’ve always maintained, is one of the greatest forms of magic there is in the world. And there is magic everywhere.

Continue Reading…