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Discipline vs Motivation

Discipline is an ability to be productive even if you desire to do otherwise. Motivation is the ability to generate enthusiasm for something and direct your energies into it.

Discipline vs Motivation

Discipline can be applied to tasks both pleasant and unpleasant, optional and mandatory. This allows an individual to reach a reasonable level of productivity in any situation. Motivation requires desire and is more difficult to apply to a wide range of tasks. In practice, both discipline and motivation are typically required for productivity, improvement and attainment.


Motivation is associated with rewards, recognition and self-fulfillment. This can be expensive and involve a great deal of overhead. For example, an organization that requires expensive compensation packages, regular recognition of success and a cheery, pleasant office space with many perks to keep staff motivated versus a bare-bones operation that simply requires discipline of its employees. Likewise, motivation can be expensive for an individual such as a jogger who feels they need to reward themselves to stay motivated versus a jogger who simply has the discipline to do what is required to improve.


It is possible for a disciplined person to lack creativity as they may be pushing themselves through something they find unpleasant. As such, a motivated person may outperform a disciplined person in situations that require creativity. For example, a motivated musician may be more talented at composition than a disciplined musician who has reached a higher level of technical perfection. This explains musicians who have written brilliant songs who aren't particularly competent with a musical instrument.

Organizational Behavior

Discipline allows individuals to work together towards common purpose as they can support the decisions of the group even if they think the decision is wrong. This can be both highly productive and potentially destructive. Motivation implies that individuals truly believe in the direction of an organization and support it with enthusiasm. This may help to prevent flawed decisions from being supported by the group but can also lead to less unity of action and direction.


It can be argued that the global economy is transitioning from a system of discipline to a system of motivation as work demands more creativity and less repetition and focus due to the introduction of automation and time-saving tools. For example, a production line requires discipline but this can be easily automated whereas social and creative professions that are more difficult to automate require creativity that is better served by a motivated individual.
Discipline vs Motivation
The ability to be productive even if you desire to do otherwise.
The ability to generate enthusiasm for something and direct your energies into it.
Associated With
Coordinated, systematic and standardized processes and practices whereby members of a group all do something the same way.
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