"Discipline Equals Freedom" by Jocko Willink

Book Summary:

Discipline Equals Freedom: A Field Manual” by Jocko Willink is unlike any motivational or self-improvement book I’ve read. This manual will tell it to you straight–it doesn’t care about your feelings or about making you feel good. It cares only about making you better. Jocko doesn’t waste time talking nonsense or using filler words, he gets to the point and then moves on. 
This book covers strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear, and specific physical training workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes, and even the best sleep habits and food intake recommended to optimize performance.

Within these pages, readers will discover the keys to becoming stronger, smarter, faster, and healthier. There is only one way to achieve true freedom: The Way of Discipline. Read this book and find The Way.

Author Jocko Willink at TEDx. He gave an awesome talk, you can watch it  here .

Author Jocko Willink at TEDx. He gave an awesome talk, you can watch it here.

Author Bio:

JOCKO WILLINK is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, author of the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he is a leadership instructor, speaker, and executive coach. Jocko spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, starting as an enlisted SEAL and rising through the ranks to become a SEAL officer. 

As commander of SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser during the battle of Ramadi, he orchestrated SEAL operations that helped the "Ready First" Brigade of the US Army's First Armored Division bring stability to the violent, war-torn city. Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the Iraq War. 

During his career, Jocko was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and numerous other personal and unit awards. In 2010, Jocko retired from the Navy and launched Echelon Front where he teaches the leadership principles he learned on the battlefield to help others lead and win. 


1)  Discipline Equals Freedom


The title of this book is also one of its most important lessons. It may seem like a contradiction at first, but having more discipline in your life will give you more freedom. 

When you have discipline, you don’t let outside factors influence your life. You will be in control of your life, not your impulses, addictions or anything else.

For example: 

  • If you want financial freedom, you have to have financial discipline.

  • If you want more free time, you have to follow a disciplined schedule.

  • If you want to have high levels of energy and be free to go hiking or rock climbing, you need to have the discipline to eat a healthy diet.

So discipline is good, but where do you get it?

Discipline comes from within. Sure you can have someone like a drill instructor or coach force discipline on you, but that will go away once the person leaves. Instead, you need self-discipline. You need to create a fire inside you that won’t go out. 

Now you might be asking, “How do I do that?”

The answer is simple. Every action you take, gives you a chance at building self-discipline.

  • Do you eat an apple or chocolate bar for a snack?

  • Do you go to the gym or stay home and watch TV?

  • Do you read a book before bed or do you scroll through social media?

Every decision you take, gives you a chance to build your self-discipline muscle. 

2) Sugarcoated lies

Don't fall for the lies ( source ).

Don't fall for the lies (source).

This is one of my favorite lessons and it has reached meme status on the internet. 

Jocko writes about how sweet and soft donuts can be and how a lot of the time they are free. Birthday celebrations, office parties, free breakfast Fridays, free donuts are everywhere. 

So if someone offers you a nice sugary donut for free, it’s basically a sign from the universe that you should eat it right? 

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Jocko says that donuts aren’t food. They are poison.

It’s the same with chocolate chip cookies, cake, soda...all junk food is JUNK. It doesn’t fuel you, it literally kills you. One bite at a time. 

Think about it. You get a short ‘high’ feeling, but junk food won’t help you get stronger, faster, smarter, healthier or in any way better in life.

You don’t need junk food in your life. It will tempt you, but remember, these are SUGAR COATED LIES. Use your self-discipline to say NO to junk food. 


3) GOOD Mindset


How does Jocko deal with a setback, failure or defeat?

Simple, he says the word “Good.”

Jocko tells a story of when he was in the SEAL teams and one of the younger guys came to Jocko to tell him about a problem or issue, and Jocko would just say to him: “Good.”

This happened a couple of times, but then one day as the young soldier was telling Jocko about a problem, and he said “I already know what you’re going to tell me.”

So Jocko asked, “What am I going to say?”

And the young soldier replied, “You’re going to say good. That’s what you always say.”

Jocko said “Well I mean it.”

  • Mission got cancelled? Good. We can focus on another one.

  • Didn’t get the new high-speed gear we wanted? Good. We can keep it simple.

  • Didn't get promoted? Good. More time to get better.

  • Didn’t get funded? Good. We own more of the company.

  • Got injured? Good. Needed a break from training.

That’s it says Jocko. When things go bad, don’t get frustrated–that won’t do anything–instead say “Good.”

Jocko makes a distinction to say that being positive is better than being negative, but that still isn’t enough to solve the problem. What will solve the problem, is action. 

So whatever you may be going through, if you can say the word “Good,” then guess what? It means you’re still alive and you still have the energy to fight and make things better.

So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, re-engage–and go out on the attack.
— Page 60


This book doesn’t have any secrets to life, but that’s the point. THERE ARE NO SECRETS or SHORTCUTS. It’s just hard work, day-in and day-out.

The entire book is also in black and white, perhaps to convey the fact that the world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I believe it’s also to show that there is darkness and light in the world, and it’s up to you to decide which one you will follow. 


People already know a lot of lessons in this book, such as work out often and don’t eat sugar, but when it comes from Jocko, there’s a much higher chance of it sticking in your mind. I think part of it is the amount of respect people have for him. This guy wakes up a 4:30 AM every day–even on Christmas and New Years– and works out, and posts a picture on social media as proof for everyone to see. 

In the end, readers will have learned at least two valuable lessons from this book. The need to build self-discipline and the need to do. Don’t just read this article and read his book, but go and do. Do the work, do what needs to be done even if you don’t feel like doing it, do what will make you a smarter, stronger and a better person in life. Now, go and GET AFTER IT!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

You can get the book here or by clicking on the image below.


If you enjoyed this book or you're a fan of Jocko, I recommend reading his other book "Extreme Ownership."


For a ten bucks and a few hours of reading, a book will give you an enormous amount of valuable information that can help you in life. It’s practically highway-robbery. So take advantage of this and read as much as you can.

If you want to check out my list of recommended books, you can find that here.

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