Coffee has been a part of my life since I was in college, back in the late 90s. I could only survive so many lectures in which the professor made little effort and which were therefore just boring. Later, at work, coffee was a companion for many exciting hours when we were researching something new at university, inventing something at the company or working on a tricky deal. In the morning, coffee is part of the wake-up routine and at meetings (now via web session) it is still an integral part. At the weekend, a good coffee is part of an indulgent breakfast. So why on earth would you want to get off coffee? I did and I want to report on it here (yes, I survived it!).
Coffee belongs to the sgt. stimulants. We do not need them to survive, but consume them because they simply do one thing: they taste good and they provide (short-term) happiness. This is also the reason for the danger of addiction, which varies depending on the stimulant. But that's not why I gave up coffee, because I love drinking coffee. It was rather a recommendation in the context of a 1-week cure fast to do without any stimulant. And I can therefore confirm that coffee is a) addictive and b) giving it up can lead to real withdrawal symptoms. In my case it was mainly persistent and sometimes severe headaches, but also restlessness, followed by listlessness and a certain irritability. This only got better after 2-3 days, but I managed it with a lot of discipline. At least for one week.
What has it done for me? I see (at least) the following advantages:
- Conscious perception of body and mind: You learn to pay more attention to the signals and to act accordingly.
- Concentration: focused work is also possible without coffee. Take a break to enjoy your coffee instead of drinking gallons of it.
- Natural flow: without coffee you learn to follow the flow of your biorhythm. Work in the high, rest in the low.
- Better sleep: for me, coffee works 100% and I can't fall asleep if I have another cup after a certain time. Without coffee I can simply sleep better and recharge the batteries.
What's the next step?
Forever giving up coffee and other stimulants. I'm too much of a hedonist for that (another topic for another article). However, the planned and controlled withdrawal has taught me mindfulness (another topic!) for pleasure: to enjoy pleasure consciously . I've since significantly reduced the amount of coffee I drink, and I've been enjoying every cup double and triple ever since. For me, this now applies to many other indulgences and foods as well. If you ever get an idea like that, let me know if you've managed to do it without making a killing.
In all my years as an entrepreneur, athlete and private person, I have observed that discipline is a virtue that can help you move mountains. For me, discipline is therefore a positive term. It means "the mastery of one's will, feelings and inclinations in order to achieve something."
Discipline is important to achieve goals. If you want to be successful, I think discipline is essential. Because success is rarely luck, but the result of perseverance (do not stray from the path), consistent action (decide and do) and personal responsibility (vs. blame always the others). It is quite possible to provoke success, and therefore happiness, with discipline. A positive cycle to the freedom and self-determination created by discipline.
Applied to oneself, one moves from discipline that is often externally determined to self-discipline. Wikipedia says: "Several long-term studies in recent decades found that the level of ability to self-discipline in childhood, as determined by tests and examinations, was a sure indicator of diverse success in later adult life." I have always considered myself to be very (self)disciplined and can only confirm this from my perspective and career.
In the following articles I write about my experiences with discipline and where it can lead. Privately and at work. Examples of this are manifold:
- Coffee withdrawal (just went through this in the context of the next topic - I can already tell this takes a lot of discipline for a techie).
- Digital fasting
- Writing a diploma thesis (is called Bachelor and Master today, isn't it)
- PhD thesis
- Build a house
- Various sporting goals, e.g. finishing a triathlon
- 30 Days Kettlebell Challenge
- Start a company and make it big
I'm already looking forward to the follow-up articles on this topic, but now it's time to get out into the air. Because the sun is shining and I have to enjoy it. What is your attitude towards discipline?
When you start and grow a company you are often asked for a vision / mission statement. I went through this exercise several times with my team, analysts (like Gartner), my coach, etc. and I believe that understanding your vision is more important than you think for at least the following reasons: understanding why you do things helps you to 1) align you business, 2) explain your offering to prospects, and 3) re-invent your company whenever needed. Ultimately, it helps you to stay in the driver seat (vs. being driven by others).
I have read a lot about how to sharpen your vision / mission statement and can recommend to review 2 ideas from Simon Sinek - this is the best I have seen because it leads to clear and easy to understand messages. That does not mean that it is easy getting there, though.
- Read the idea of framing a vision by a "Just Cause" that meets the following criteria: 1) for something, 2) inclusive, 3) service oriented, 4) resilient, and 5) idealistic.
- The "Just Cause" is linked to your mission statement that can be derived following another of Simon's ideas: the "Golden Circle". According to Sinek many companies start messaging with the "what" they do, followed by the "how" and the "why". Since your customers expect an answer to "why are you here?" It's good to turn this around in your mission statement and start with the WHY.
This is not a one-time exercise. Share some brains around this approach and get started. And then refine it over time based on feedback and insights that you gain on your way. I will continue to share my experience about a corporate model based on your vision/mission statement that helped my former company grow over the years.