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Not Only Germans Need Discipline

April 30, 2018 fm

For almost four decades I fought a fierce fight against my own looks. Thrice I won a battle, but never did I win the war. For almost forty years I bit my fingernails. Biting one’s nails is a real pain in the wazoo. I knew it was wrong, but it was subconscious, and I just couldn’t stop.

Discipline is one of those things many of us know we should have. But – who can really call him or herself disciplined? Are you disciplined? Really?

Fact is, not only Germans need discipline. Passing your driving test? Discipline. Finishing a PhD? Discipline. Running a marathon? Discipline. And I don’t even step foot in the growing-old-with-your-partner-arena. If you want to accomplish something big in life, normally, it takes a huge amount of discipline.

When I turned pro as a public speaking coach and speaker, I looked at my fingers and told myself, Flo, this is not going to work. With those nails you transmit nervousness, insecurity, a lack of discipline! I considered it poison for my credibility as a trainer and speaker.

And still, even when I knew I had to change, it took me some more years to stop completely. Until one day.

A random subway ride in Barcelona. In a moment of thoughts-going-wild, I re-called the power of rituals. I had experienced the power of rituals several times as a training participant myself. Rituals make the subconscious conscious. I thought to myself, Why not apply this power to my nail problem?

From then on, every time one of my fingers touched my mouth, I spread out the fingers of my left hand — in a way that it hurt — and I kept them like that for five seconds – one, two, three, four, five.

Bingo! It worked. After less than 10 rounds of going through this painful exercise the subconscious became conscious. I stopped biting my nails forever.

What happened here? I knew I needed to be disciplined. But knowing it was not enough. I had to add some physical pain to it. Thanks to that painful ritual, after almost forty years, I finally won that war against myself.

Today, I regularly go to have manicure at the W hotel in Barcelona. And I love it!

Comments (2)

  1. Fadel

    I peel my lips unconsciously when I think or I’m nervous , seriously I will try to pinch my mouth next time I touch it , but what should I do with all the books still on the shelf that I didn’t read or the videos I didn’t post ! maybe I’ll need (gain not pain) for that (;

    Thanks FM

    • fm

      Hey Fadel, thanks for your cool comment. The other day, in one of my trainings a guy from Munich said, “Goals don’t work, systems do.” A goal to lose 10 kg, for instance, won’t work. Skipping meat and milk products systematically from your diet might work. What about combining the ideas of system and ritual? Every time you post a video, three of your best friends could call you to congratulate you. They will love the fun, and for you it is a systematic, ritual-based “gain”! 😉

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