Parable from Wins, Losses, and Lessons:
Lou Holtz Autobiography
A parable I always use to make the point about the importance of discipline involves two young men, each of whom owned a new puppy. The first young man showered his puppy with love and affection, and allowed the dog to do whatever it wanted. No restrictions, only unconditional love and freedom. The other young man loved his puppy as well, but he also put a choke collar on the animal. Anytime the dog behaved improperly, the young man would tug on the choke collar. It didn’t take long for that dog to realize that there were limitations on his freedom.
A year later, the second young man was able to take the choke collar off of this dog, and the dog roamed the neighborhood. The owner didn’t worry, because he knew that the dog would obey his commands, that he wouldn’t bite anyone or destroy property and he wouldn’t abuse the freedoms the owner had given him. The dog understood that actions had consequences. The first young man could not give his dog those same freedoms. If let loose, the first dog would have terrorized the neighborhood, destroyed property and possibly harmed someone. For those reasons, the dog had to remain confined indoors.
The freedom the first young man thought he was giving his dog by not disciplining him turned out to be exactly the opposite. The lack of discipline became a lack of freedom. The dog that had been properly disciplined and shown the boundaries of acceptable behavior was allowed to run free, because the owner loved the dog enough to discipline it.
When I finish telling this story, I always ask the athletes who have been forced to listen, “Now, the question I have for you is, do you want a choke collar for a year so that you can enjoy freedom for the rest of your life? Or do you want to be coddled and never be free?” It is a rhetorical question, but the point gets across. My job as a coach was to prepare the young men on our teams for a life of success and happens. That life had to start with discipline.