Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink

— 10 minute read

Summary: permalink

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

Notes permalink

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?
- discipline comes from inside
- it's an internal force
- it 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
- get faster, stronger, smarter, be more humble, have less ego
- you become this by controlling your mind

Mind Control
- this is controlling your own mind

Stress
- Step 1 is to gain perspective, others have gone through worse
- detach from the present circumstances - stress is often 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 to get into destroyer mode
- 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
- discipline is being in control of your emotions
- discipline means taming your ego
- discipline is your best friend

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

Compromise
- 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, be proactive
- create a situation so you are in control
- 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
- it's 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
- fear 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.
- In the end it leads to peace
-

Sugarcoated lies
- sweet/fatty things are poison
- sugar kills
- it won't make you faster, stronger, smarter
- you don't need to eat poison
- fight the temptation, to strengthen your will and protect your body

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

Not feeling it
- when you are not in the mood 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

Regret
- 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

Focus
- 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
- you start thinking maybe you can't do it. And you settle
- embed the long term goal in your mind. Burn it there
- think about it, write about it, talk about it
- every day take a step. EVERY day

Hesitation
- 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 - draw fire

Good
- How do I deal with defeats and setbacks
- say, when you encounter 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

Death
- say, of past colleagues (and I suppose, experiences and lessons) "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

Everyday
- There are no weekends
- every day is a Monday
- every day is 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
- ask "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
- so remain vigilant, practice discipline at all times

Fear
- 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

Overwhelmed
- life can be overwhelming
- when it gets overwhelming it's time to fight harder
- it is time to dig in
- assess which problem to attack first
- let the challenges elevate you
- let the adversity of today turn you into a better person
- Look back on your challenges and thank them
-

Negative talk
- sometimes confront negativity but do it cleverly - however it's better to ignore and outperform
- out work and outperform

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

Begin
- Get up and go
- do it quickly, without thought
- don't reason
- begin early
-

Engage
- say "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 laugh
- laugh at them all

Part 2 Actions permalink

Physical Training
- You'll be healthier
- exercise will make you smarter
- working out fights disease

Stress
- sometimes stress is good:
- stress releases glucose to the brain, also cotazole which helps focus and gives energy
- however stress is often bad
- it causes fat
- exercise is stress, so it's good release of cotazole

When
- when?
- lack of time is the chief excuse - 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 is key - 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 also true: when you stray off the path you stay off
- discipline begets discipline

Sleep
- get enough sleep
- if you eat clean and y0ure fit your sleep is better.
- stay healthy and eat clean
- go to bed earlier
- get up early
- there are no distractions in the morning
- 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, there are many ways of keeping fit
- track your progress - records can help achieve goals
- be consistent
- maintain the routine

Building a home gym
- eliminates all kinds of excuses
- start with a pull up bar
- also get a squat rack
- then get a 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 weapon of all - practice situational awareness to be safe
- in terms of weapons the firearm is best
- Brazilian Jujitsu first, most fighting happens on the ground.
- but first run away - next is boxing
- simple and easy to learn and also gets you fit enough to run - punch and avoid being punched
- then run
- then Muai Thai and wrestling