The metaphor of "developing a muscle" applies to many situations and skills. Therefore, it is worth talking about separately, though it is included in many sections.
Essentially, we do not develop power in life without following these principles. Violating them will only lead to frustration.
The first principle of muscle building is that it does not just happen to you nor can anyone do it for you.
In counseling or in consulting, the client may say "you know me, you just provide me with the answers/solutions" or "you can do it so much easier" or "it's too hard for me".
The reason something is "too hard for me" is that the person hasn't developed the skill or muscle to do the specific thing.
And, guess what. The person must exercise the muscle to get it stronger, even though another person could move the weight for them.
In counseling or consulting, the way of thinking, the direct awareness, and the ability to solve problems can only be developed through the client actually engaging in it, even if the client cannot handle much weight yet and will not be able to do it right (which always happens in the learning process as more and more "not knowing", which causes mistakes, is replaced by "knowing").
Dependency on someone else to do it for you simply leads to flabby muscles and you not being able to carry your own weight in life - and to be more of a victim rather than a causer. If a person does it for you, that person is enabling you to remain dependent and less skilled and able.
The second principle of muscle building is that you keep doing it until you get to where you want to be.
One time exercising will not build big enough muscles.
Too few times and amount of lifting will not achieve the strength you want in life or in any particular area.
The third principle, if you have a coach, guide, or book, is to follow what is recommended as it will have you more efficiently and effectively get to where you want.
Part of this metaphorical weight lifting, in terms of "effort", is that we have to think. The more we think, the more we develop thinking ability (i.e. "muscle").
One thing that will be recommended by almost all coaches is that you use the practice of writing things down as a means of thinking things through in more depth and detail. Otherwise, all the factors to deal with are just floating around in the head in various states of amorphousness (shapelessness and ambigousness). This is the reason coaches will say a plan unwritten is not a plan.
In sports and life, one must become aware of the individual elements involved in completing something. Your coach can tell you about it, but you must also be aware of it. And only you can know what is going on in your head - and until you identify what that is, usually by forcing more definition by writing and in-depth thinking, for yourself you will not have owned it nor given it enough significance in your brain to be remembered.
In math, for instance, what would you think if a person refused to do the exercises because they "already" understand it just from the lecture? In self-development and in any learning, a person will benefit by using the brain to put what he thinks he learned into words - and as he does that, he discovers that he missed some of it. Also, when one has to think enough to be able to formulate the words and explanations, the brain is more deeply wired to remember and to be able to access it.
I am amused, but sometimes also sad, when I hear a person say "I already know that" when they haven't yet learned enough and/or they haven't shown they can implement it effectively in their lives - which is the only way of proving one actually does know enough to accomplish the result. See Intelligent Awareness And Sufficient Knowing - a simple idea, but one that can lead you to never making yourself wrong for 'not knowing' (as indicated when you make mistakes) and simply have life be about "oh, I apparently don't know that, so I need to learn it" - not as a "make wrong" but simply as an objective observation completely free of feeling bad about it.
THE ROLE OF HABITS
In a way, the secret to getting great results in life and to make life easy is to develop the right habits. Habits are simply automatic, relatively effortless programmed ways of doing things.
Essentially, they are "muscles" of the mind.
If you want to have a life that doesn't work, leave in place all of your bad habits. And then believe that it is so hard to develop new ones, forgetting that it took you alot of time and effort to develop the old habits. And forget that habits are built a little bit at a time. And then give up too soon and expect that the new habit should have been formed sooner and easier.
You can believe all that BS, or...
If you want to have a great life, then decide what habits to develop and then life the weight and pretty soon it'll be relatively easy to life what seemed to be so hard to life before.
Self-discipline is simply a habit, comprised of a habitual way of thinking ('this is worth it and not hard') along with a gently putting oneself back on the pathway going toward what one wants and sees is worth it.
It has an ominous sounding name with negative connotations, implying that you have to crack the whip and overcome the struggle with the evil force on the other side. Well, no wonder it seems so hard! But that is a total misunderstanding.
You simply develop a little bit of weightlifting at a time, repeated a number of times, and eventually you have a habit that serves you. It is then automatic and easy, especially with the easy way of thinking about it not being hard.
Self-discipline (and its sub-component, self-control) is the single most important determinant of your getting much more of what you want in life.
I recommend that you do your weightlifting here and become a powerful, strong life-shaper.