I sometimes have people tell me they want to write a book, launch a business, or learn a new sport. When I ask what’s holding them back, many shrug their shoulders and say they’re not sure. A few say they have a hard time getting started.

Years of research and experience have taught me that one difference between achievers and non-achievers is that achievers are able to get up and get going on important projects. In fact, they develop the kind of habits that enable them to consistently start and finish a project even when they don’t feel like it. And even when the project is long and suffers set-backs.

Consider the fact that the largest and most powerful locomotive in the world can be held in place by a one-inch block of wood. Placed in front of the eight drive wheels of the locomotive, the block will hold it motionless. Yet that same locomotive, with a full head of steam, can crash through a steel-reinforced concrete wall that is five feet thick.

If there is one thing we all need, it’s the discipline required to develop the right kind of habits … habits that will enable us to live with consistency and diligence.

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of discipline and wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Every effective leader recognizes the value of consistency and diligence. As followers of Christ our spiritual lives form the core of our character. We’re to be like a runner or a boxer. A runner doesn’t stagger from one lane to another. He rivets his attention on the finish line and runs a disciplined race toward it. A boxer trains himself so he can absorb powerful blows without falling down. Similarly, Paul trained like a world-class athlete. Why? Because he wanted to have the self-control to finish the race without disqualification.

If you want to be an effective leader, identify the habits you need to build into your life so you can lead with diligence. If God has given you a vision, knock the blocks out from under your wheels and get going. Disciplined habits will give you the momentum you need to not only move forward, but to get past the barriers you’ll encounter along the way.

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