Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink


Discipline Equals Freedom is a field manual for doing hard things. Jocko would know one or two things about that of course, he was a navy seal for 20 years and wakes at dawn every single day.

The goal is to be so disciplined that motivation does not matter. I listened to the audiobook and it was short and enjoyable, with brief lessons and some practical tips on how to live a more disciplined life.

I liked especially the idea of attacking the day early and with exercise, something I’ve tried to incorporate in my own life, as well as to think about the value and effects of the things I eat (esp sugar). I also liked the part about getting enough sleep and the tips to ensure sufficient and consistent sleeping habits.

The idea of discipline being equal to freedom is an old one. Aristotle mentioned it, saying, “Through discipline comes freedom”. So did Rousseau, who argued that liberty is living within the laws we set for ourselves. (I learnt of that courtesy of this brilliant political philosophy course offered at Yale).

Well worth a read, though the ideas and principles are not exactly new. 8/10


The notes below are mine, made while listening to the book, though they are by and large paraphrases of the text. I captured them on Google Keep.

Where does discipline come from

– from inside
– its an internal force
– comes when you decide to make a mark on the world
– discipline will make you free

Overcoming Procrastination
– start here and now
– kill your idols
– learn from the faults of others
– the only person you can control is you
– faster stronger, smarter, humble, less ego
– you become this by mind control

Mind Control
– this is controlling your own mind

– Step 1 is to gain perspective, others have gone through worse
– detach
– caused by stuff beyond your control
– if it’s something you can control but you ain’t then it’s a discipline issue
– use stress to make you a better you

Destroyer Mode
– takes emotion and logic
– let one help the other

Until the end
– you can’t relax
– there’s always more to do
– don’t be finished, always be starting

Application of discipline
– Discipline starts with waking up early
– control your emotions
– discipline means taming your ego
– discipline is your best friend

– Knowledge is the ultimate weapon
– it is gained by asking questions
– which questions to ask?
– question everything
– ask until you understand
– most important question yourself
– who am I?
– what am I doing to improve?
– is this all I can give?
– do I want to live like this?
– ask the hard questions

– fight as hard as possible
– give the full measure
– fight against weakness, against fear
– give every day the best you can give
– Go forward

– a failure to compromise is a failure to succeed
– compromise is required with external people
– internally there is no compromise
– you have to hold the line

Default aggressive
– proactive is aggressive
– create a situation so you are controlling
– aggressive means you are always ready to attack
– this does not mean recklessness
– it means fast thinking, fast moving, fast response
– aggression is a fire that says I’m going to win

Nature v Nurture
– its neither
– successful people decide to be so
– they take on the hard stuff
– think not of the past. Think of where you are going
– eat good food, workout, keep your mind clean

Fear of failure
– Can paralyze
– be afraid of failure
– this should motivate you to work hard, think hard, be relentless
– be HORRIFIED, TERRIFIED, of sitting on the sidelines doing nothing
– being no closer to your goals must scare you over all other things

The War Path
– we are always fighting
– prepare always
– leads to control and ownership of your own life
– the warpath is a path of discipline, that leads to freedom.
– I’m the end it leads to peace

Sugarcoated lies
– they are poison
– it kills
– it won’t make you faster, stronger, smarter
– you don’t need to eat
– fight the temptation, to strengthen your will and protect your body

Bad instincts
– the instinct that says you have had enough is a liar
– that says you can rest
– push it into the ground, destroy it
– replace it with an instinct that says get up and fight

Not feeling it
– just go through the motions
– hammer on it
– Get out of bed
– taking a break is the one thing that should be procrastinated
– the desire to rest is often weakness
– stay on the warpath

– the most important thing to learn is that we have so much to learn
– you get one shot
– regret is useless
– except as a lesson
– walking around full of it doesn’t help
– let it teach you and move on
– be filled with knowledge, not regret

– your long term goal should be so embedded in your mind that you never lose sight of it
– never lose focus, a day of no small steps leads to a week, etc
– you lose focus. And you start rationalising
– maybe you can’t. And you settle
– embed the long term goal in your kind. Burn it there
– think about it, write about it, talk about it
– every day take a step. EVERY day

– Between the acting and the first action, the action is a phantasm or dreadful dream – Brutus.
– fear causes hesitation, hesitation causes defeat
– it defeats us, so we must defeat it

Draw fire
– life is not fair

– How do I deal with defeats and setbacks
– Good
– there’s always a small good everywhere
– say Good
– accept reality and focus on a solution
– If you are breathing you can fight

– I was lucky to have them
– death is part of life
– it reminds us to be thankful for everyday
– to live every day
– to have a purpose
– to go out there each day and live
– embrace life
– let us live for those who live no more

– There are no weekends
– every day is a Monday
– its an opportunity to come out like a man possessed and attack the day without mercy
– no more excuses
– no more I will start tomorrow
– now is the time for strength

Staying motivated
– motivation is fickle and unreliable
– count on discipline rather than motivation
– there’s no magic pill
– you have to do the work

Me v Me
– We all have limitations
– there are things we cannot do or be
– but it does not mean quitting
– it means being the best version of myself
– how close can I get to greatness
– my glory happens in the darkness of the early morning, in solitude
– every single day earn a victory
– a victory of determination and will

Remain Vigilant
– we weaken slowly, over time
– we are not defeated in one decisive battle
– weakness is a slow incremental process, chipping away at our discipline
– One day you see you are weak, disorganized and decaying

– fear is normal
– step aggressively towards your fear
– Step
– everything starts with step
– be aggressive
– step

The Darkness
– The sun doesn’t shine everyday
– don’t let the darkness consume you
– the only defeat is quitting /surrender
– to fight against the darkness is to win

– life can be overwhelming
– its time to fight harder
– to dig in
– assess which problem to attack first
– let the challenges elevate you
– let adversity of today turn you into a better person
– Look back on your challenges and thank them

Negative talk
– confront but cleverly sometimes
– however better to ignore and outperform
– out work and outperform

Hold the line
– Get stronger, get better
– grow, learn and live
– in defiance of decay
– fight do not surrender

– Get up and go
– quickly, without thought
– don’t reason
– eaely

– weakness is strong but I’m stronger
-Fight against fatigue and weakness and soreness
-don’t submit

Laughter wins
– have fun 😊
– life is hard but gets easier when you are laugh
– laugh at them all

Part 2 Actions

Physical Training
– You’ll be healthier
– will make you smarter
– fights disease

– sometimes good
– releases glucose to the brain, cotazole, helps focus and gives energy
– however its often bad
– causes fat
– exercise is stress, so it’s good release of cotazole

– when?
– lack of time
– we all have time at predawn
– Get up before the sun
– guaranteed to make your day better

Psychological edge
– you win in your mind. You’re working out while they sleep
– discipline
– plan your workout the night prior
– Write down the things you need to accomplish in the morning
– your mornings will feel good 😁
– you’ll want to stay on that path all day
– the opposite is true
– when you stray off the path you stay off
– discipline begets discipline

– sleep enough
– if you eat clean and yiure fit your sleep is better.
– stay healthy and eat clean
– Go to bed earlier
– get up early
– there are no distractions
– set your alarm early and no snooze

Steps to sleep early
1. Get tired, work out,
2. Turn off the computer
3. Read
4. Get up early
5. Do it everyday

Power naps
– elevate your feet
– keep it short.
– 6- 8 mins

The Workouts
– do something
– track
– records can help achieve goals
– be consistent
– maintain the routine

Building home gym
– eliminates all kinds of excuses
– start with a pull up bar
– squat rack
– barbell and weights

Martial arts
– everyone should train in martial arts just as everyone eats
– 3 categories : grappling, striking, weapons
– the mind is the most powerful
– situational awareness to be safe
– the firearm is best
– Brazilian Jujitsu first, most fighting happens on the ground.
– but first run
– next boxing
– simple and easy to learn
– punch and avoid being punched
– then run
– then Muai Thai and wrestling

By Tawanda

In search of Eudaimonia (The Good Life). Hopefully Tolkien was right that "not all those who wander are lost". Currently interested in programming, electronics, development economics, philosophy, fitness and good books.


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