The Value of Discipline

One of my children asked me what I thought about school uniforms. I readily answered that I think that the concept is on the face of it ridiculous and nonsensical. He grinned triumphantly, no doubt planning his speech at school based on his father’s authority, until he heard what followed. While uniforms are ridiculous, if your school principal calls and tells me that you went to school with part of your uniform missing, I will support any punishment that he chooses to give subject you too. The boy was now thoroughly confused not to mention crestfallen. In life I explained, there are a lot of things that we have to do in order to at times survive, and certainly in order to get ahead. Many times they are things that simply do not make sense to us or things that we do not feel like doing. Many of the behaviours that would be considered professional behaviour fall into this category. Some disciplines simply have survival value, like keeping a check on ones income and expenditure (those who can do and those who can’t teach in this case). School uniform is one of those invaluable arbitrary disciplines that give people a chance to practice a discipline that does not always make sense to them. As an individualist myself, I do not need to be told the value of self expression. In spite of being an individualist I well appreciate the value of being part of a group. One can indentify with the collective and still have a strong sense of self and individual identity. This can be achieved without becoming part of that large collective of unique individualists who express their identity and demonstrate their originality by tattooing or piercing a personal brand into their flesh, swopping a fabric uniform for a permanent painted or metallic uniform. It’s as if being like someone else was something to avoid at all costs.  This phenomenon shows the dilemma that we all face, the desire to belong and indentify with others and not get lost in being a faceless number in the crowd. Paradoxically ones sense of unique power and sense of self is established through discipline, taking on and rising to challenges, subjugating one’s own desires for some higher ideal. One of the biggest challenges that managers face in business is that of getting staff to keep to basic disciplines like punctuality and taking pride in the manner in which work is presented. These are life skills that requires practice in order to acquire, and the earlier ones begins the practice the easier it is to master, before one is too self-referenced to be prepared to submit to such disciplines.

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