Discipline divorced from wisdom is not true discipline, but merely the meaningless following of custom, which is only a disguise for stupidity – Rabindranath Tagore

I found this amazing gem of a quote, and decided to write about it. It goes against a lot of other quotes that preach persistence and discipline. I personally am a big believer in persistence and discipline. However, i do realize that if the effort is not wisely selected and oriented, it would be a big waste of time.

Discipline divorced from wisdom is not true discipline, but merely the meaningless following of custom, which is only a disguise for stupidity

– Rabindranath Tagore

I will just give you few small examples before analyzing this quote further.
1- I have been running this blog since 2013 (since 9 years at time of publication of this post). Revenue wise, the money generated from ads wouldn’t even buy me a cup of coffee daily for more than a month. I know another person, who is also a blogger and posts in a very disciplined and regular manner. The person have a blog in another language, and writes at a C2 level (highly professional). Both of us don’t make enough money from our blogs to even pay a cup of coffee daily for 1 month. Yet these blogs take thousands of hours of our time. Is it wise to have such blogs ?
2- After a bet with my son, i started making Youtube videos for this website. Currently i am at 65 videos, for only 25 subscribers, and most videos get less than 10 views. Again, same question, is it wise to waste hundreds of hours to make videos no one watches and generate no revenue ?
3- I know a lady, that have learned Spanish by being disciplined, it took her many years, but she learned the language to a level that she was able to find a job requiring this language. She now is learning Latin. Latin might not be a wise decision, but it is a hobby.

The popular opinion is discipline and persistence are the key to success. They definitely are, but not without proper planning, or wisdom and insight. You simply can not grab a problem or an objective and just keep at it till you succeed. It does not happen like this, not in this time and age, and especially not if it is internet related. There are millions of Youtube channels competing for views, even great content often goes unrecognized, meanwhile low quality content can get huge reach. All depends on planning and luck and then discipline. The same can be said about blogs, websites, and even startups. That’s why bootstrapping a startup is good, but it should not last forever.

As i said above, it is a popular opinion that discipline is key to success:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison
Passion, creativity, and resilience are the most crucial skills in business. If you’ve got those, you’re ready to embark on the journey -Jo Malone
Anything worthwhile achieving takes time, organised persistent effort, and more time
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not ;Genius will not; Education will not – Calvin Coolidge
Focus is more important than genius
You don’t try to build a wall, you lay brick by brick and soon you have a wall – Will Smith

Again, Discipline and persistence are very important for success, but we need to be smart or more specifically we need to be wise. Creating a discipline for something with a very difficult outcome can just lead to waste of time. Creating a discipline which have no meaningful effect to the person is just a custom. And customs can be considered stupidity (i don’t) if you wish.
For example, to improve the reading skills, a person decides to read few pages from a comic book everyday. This will surely not do much to your reading skills, hence not a wise discipline. I am trying to do exactly that with a foreign language, but here my goal is different, for my goal such a discipline might actually work, however don’t count on comics to teach you proper reading skills.

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Abdallah Alaili

I'm a serial entrepreneur (mostly tech) and micro-investor (tiny), this is a blog to learn from other entrepreneurs and spread the wisdom to many more. You can find me on: Instagram - Twitter - Linkedin - more about me