is the ability to regulate the direction and focus of one’s attention and effort.

Helping others before yourself while keeping yourself safe.

This non-cognitive trait simply explains a student’s willingness to reject distraction, avoid momentary temptations and steer clear of obstacles to achieve long-term goals. Self-discipline is a large predictor of academic and self-reported success (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009). An OLP can specifically challenge and create awareness of a student’s self-discipline as many of the activities demand a level self-regulation of effort, food, mental toughness and distraction from discomfort. This trait is a determining factor for becoming a highly functioning leader as often the needs of the self become secondary to those who are being led. A leader who is not able to regulate or control themselves will find it difficult to motivate others.

How can self-discipline be included in OLP lessons?

The ability to paddle into darkness relies on knowing yourself.

One of the key traits of a successful person is the ability to make themselves do something they have to do, when it should be done, whether they like it or not. An OLP course can have a large impact in the areas of self-regulation as many trips require students to become self-aware and to balance their needs against those of the group.

A tired individual still must participate within the functions of setting up tents and preparation of food.  For many teenagers, developing this trait can be difficult and is the point of group conflicts.  Thus, many of the OLP activities are pointedly training participants to become self-aware of strengths and weaknesses that develops a sense of self-regulations  Leaders are self-discipline role models, so the group can have a positive non-verbal example of self-regulation. Each OLP activity specifically will challenge the participant to cultivate a certain level of self-discipline or self-awareness.


Self-discipline key points for consideration

  • Organization. Does the leader or participant know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
  • Establishing trip, group and personal priorities. Where do the priorities of the leader and the group mix? Where do they separate?
  • Setting activities and tone of the trip with personal temperament. Self-discipline is a very personal matter that cannot be faked for long.  Be an honest and authentic leader who expresses decision-making rationale and motivating factors.
  • Understanding the pitfalls of multitasking. It takes self-discipline to remain focused on the top priorities and to not get scattered by working on many small details.
  • Focus on the results, not just the activity. A self-disciplined leader keeps the long-term group goals in focus so that others can relax, rest or play.
  • Be responsible for mistakes, bad decisions and each participant. When correcting mistakes or making unpopular decisions, self-discipline is needed to keep a positive, fair and empathic attitude.

Click on the link below to view the self-discipline activities and lesson plan link.  

Each page contains: (a) an overview of the lesson, (b) information, videos and images to share with students, (C) enduring questions and (d) a downloadable file of the full lesson.

 OLP overnight snowshoe hike