In his book Your Own Worst Enemy, social psychologist Roy Baumeister talks about an experiment with college students who practiced walking with a book on their head to improve posture.

These students not only learned to stand up straight, they also began eating better, studying harder, and sleeping more — without specifically focusing on progress in these areas.

Baumeister says that small improvements pave the way for big improvements.

Leadership coach Penelope Trunk agrees: “Self discipline snowballs.” Mastering one area makes it easier to master others.

Maybe that’s why Paul said, “I buffet my body and make it my slave…” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He knew that small victories in self-discipline pave the way for greater victories.

If you need to develop discipline, and (like most) you have a number messy areas to choose from, start with the easiest, not the toughest.

Put the proverbial book on your head and begin walking straight.

[today’s post first appeared at the Preaching Library.]