Discipline and Trust: a Common Thread

By | June 18, 2019

[June 18, 2019] It seems like yesterday that I joined the U.S. Army. That was 45 years ago, and my thinking hasn’t changed much since then. My values remain largely unchanged, and my commitment remains rock-solid. What has changed, however, was my devotion to the discipline necessary to succeed and my understanding that only through discipline can we gain the trust of others.

“If you want me to trust you to do the right thing, then you must show me discipline.” – Anonymous

The linkage of discipline and trust was something I was slow to appreciate. Like any soldier, I wanted my buddies to trust me. I also needed confirmation that leaders in the military had enough confidence in me to allow me to work unsupervised and with little guidance. Procrastination was the enemy of those desires; something I forever had to steel myself to overcome.

Did I have the discipline to get into good physical shape and pass the Army’s Physical Fitness Test? Could I score the maximum points to show my sergeants I had the fortitude? It would take time and a lot of time to get ready. This was my first lesson that showed how discipline could instill trust. No discipline meant no trust.

Fortunately, I passed the Army’s PT test and scored the highest in my unit. I missed the maximum points by only five push-ups and therefore failed to meet the goal I had promised to obtain. Two months later, I scored a maximum grade. Despite being only a Private (the lowest of ranks), I had gained the respect and admiration of leaders in my unit.

Things changed for me. I was brought into leadership conversations more often by my Team Leader. New and more interesting missions were tasked to me. I was given other Privates to supervise. Yes, I had to show I would succeed, but it all began because I showed that I had the discipline to do the hard work necessary to prove myself.

The path was not easy. Passing a PT test was not the only thing I had to do. Showing a positive attitude, for example, was helpful (and not easy to maintain all day). My room and my uniforms had to be perfect. I had to show that I was willing to work hard, think smart, and respect everyone around me. Easy? Nope. But I did it and was given a Letter of Commendation by the Company Commander upon my departure. I still have his letter.

If you don’t have the discipline to do a good job, you will not be trusted. Leadership means learning many lessons. Remember this one.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Discipline and Trust: a Common Thread

  1. Jonathan B.

    The world is not made up of pixie dust so get some balls and buck-up. Only thru discipline can we gain the needed trust to succeed and be happy in life.

  2. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” By none other than William Shakespeare in “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      …and here’s another one from Nietzsche that hammers home the same point, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

  3. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Another “thinking-man’s” post. Keep it up. Sometimes it’s hard to think. Your blog helps me do so.

  4. JT Patterson

    “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
    ― Charles Darwin, The Life & Letters of Charles Darwin

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” by Charles Darwin in his autobiography.

  5. Andrew Dooley

    Another great article that made me think. Also, thanks to the many regular readers who comment here at https://www.theleadermaker.com. Because of them and General Satterfield, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about leadership.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Thank you for recognizing us but it’s all about getting those easy lessons of leadership (which in itself is very difficult). All you have to do is devote the time.

      1. Danny Burkholder

        Linked-In and Facebook are some of those who censor content. I’ve seen it happen if you deviate from their ultra-liberal PC agenda. They employ moral cowards.

    1. Doug Smith

      He’s interested in eliminating censorship, any kind. But he sees a serious flaw in the social media platforms that call conservative speech as violent and thus censoring them. I say, “go for it.”

  6. Albert Ayer

    Many days a week, I’ve tried to gain and maintain the discipline needed to get my job done and done right. The wheels keep grinding and I’m getting better.

  7. Max Foster

    Good job on today’s article. I was attending a wedding yesterday and saw how the ‘lack’ of discipline created a confusing and ultimately poor social atmosphere. The groom had been a serial liar and had gotten into trouble with the law on many occasions. I was there for the bride, who I respected for her good upbringing and clean record of accomplishment. She told me that she planned to change her future (now current) husband for the better. I only hope he has the discipline to do what it takes to gain the trust of the rest of the family.

    1. Len Jakosky

      I agree with you. The link between discipline and trust is often not looked at. In fact, this is the only time I’ve seen them linked. Keep up the great articles, Gen. Satterfield. Today’s article is a keeper.

  8. Georgie M.

    Loved today’s’ article. I too find that anytime you use your military experiences to emphasize a point, that the blog post is much more interesting. Job well done. This is also the reason I like Mr. Kennedy who writes for you occasionally. He uses his life’s examples to reinforce his points.

  9. Forrest Gump

    Your stories of your time in the military is great. I guess that they had a beneficial impact on you. Obviously, having been promoted to Brig. General, that is the case. Well done.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Good point, of course. Keep those stories coming our way. It helps me remember the lessons.

  10. Janna Faulkner

    Interesting link between trust and discipline. I never thought of it that way. Much appreciated, so thanks.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.