Discipline Equals Freedom – Jocko Willink [Book Summary]

by Nick

To achieve any goal – in the profession, sports or finance – you need endurance, perseverance, perseverance. And discipline.

Without it, we are weak. Without it, we go adrift, limp and lost.

Want to be the master of your life?

Learn discipline from the best.

Joko Willink served 20 years in Seals, an elite special forces unit of the US Navy, from a simple soldier to an officer: he achieved all this with the help of iron will and perseverance.

In the book, Willink gives specific recommendations for overcoming fears, weaknesses, bad habits. Section “Application” contains a set of training for beginners and advanced athletes.

Train your discipline and you will gain freedom.

The freedom to live the life you choose.

Get Discipline Equals Freedom:


Idea 1: Do Not Look for Short and Easy Ways.

To Achieve Something Meaningful, You Need Not Life Hacks, but Discipline

We live in a society where it is customary to look for easy ways, the so-called life hacks. Books and articles talk about how easy it is to learn a foreign language, effortlessly have an ideal body and in one day win the favor of any person.

According to Joko Willink, all these easy ways are deception, with their help you will not get where you want. Easy ways will not make you better, stronger, smarter, more healthy, they will not make you free, do not be fooled.

Your plans do not realize themselves, you will not overcome obstacles, you will not become better with the help of some cunning life hack. There are no easy ways, but there is only hard work until late, early climbs, training, practice, continuous training, blood, sweat and discipline.

Discipline can be defined as relentless adherence to the rules and strict adherence to commitments.

But regardless of the definitions, discipline, according to the author, is the basis of any achievements. This is what helps to overcome laziness, makes you stop making excuses.

Discipline makes you get up on time, rather than delaying the climb for “another five minutes,” discipline makes you go to the gym, and not refer to fictitious illnesses and a bad mood.

As the author notes, often discipline looks like your worst enemy, but in reality, it is your best friend.

Where does discipline come from?

Someone can inspire you by example, teach something, talk about a system for achieving goals, but the source of true discipline must not be sought outside, but inside. True discipline is your inner strength, it is self-discipline.

It is connected with your decisions – to do more, become better, leave your mark in the world. You can be charged with motivation from someone, but it will not last long.

Moreover, most of the time you should not count on motivation – it will quickly disappear, which is why you need to rely on discipline.

The author writes that if you do not feel disciplined, it is only because you have not decided to be disciplined. No one except you can make you disciplined.

The Summary you might like: Awaken The Giant Within

Idea 2: Stop Looking for the Best Time and the Best Place to Start.

The Best Time is Now, and the Best Place is Here.

When people decide to change their lives or create something new, they may be indecisive for some time, because they do not know when it is best to begin to embody what they have in mind.

They are waiting for some favorable conditions, a special set of circumstances. But to all such questions about when something needs to be started, there is the simplest and most correct answer – here and now. And this answer is valid for any situation – no matter what you want to improve – start a new business, go on a diet, start doing exercises.

Start right now and right where you are.

You make a decision and just act. The author calls for stopping just thinking or dreaming, meticulously studying every aspect of an idea or discussing it. You need to take action.

Another type of question is related to the word “how?”: How can I stop being lazy ?; how to stop procrastinating ?; how to play sports ?; how to get up earlier?

But for all such questions, only the simplest answer will be correct:

How to stop being lazy? Stop being lazy.

How to get up earlier? Get up earlier.

How to stop overeating? Stop overeating.

How to stop being distracted? Stop being distracted.

When we interact with other people, we have to compromise, and often this is a necessity.

But if we want to achieve something, we cannot compromise with ourselves – we must keep our promises made to ourselves, work hard, constantly improve ourselves, face fear. You need to be proactive and aggressive.

Proactive – not just to respond to what we encounter in our life’s journey, but to control the situation as much as possible. Being aggressive does not mean that you should conflict or treat others badly.

This means that you should always be prepared to attack, move faster and think faster.

Aggression in the understanding of the author is an unstoppable spirit of struggle, a desire to win.

Discipline begins with an early rise. When people think about why they have not done what they have yet to do, their typical excuse is a lack of time. According to the author, there is time that no one can take from you – time before dawn. When you wake up early, you get many advantages, including psychological ones – you feel more confident, knowing that you are well prepared and have already managed to do a lot while others are sleeping. You also train your willpower – the author is confident that the early ups will make you more alert and healthy – you will not want to eat junk food, as discipline generates more discipline. But the opposite is also true – if you give yourself an indulgence somewhere, then there will be a danger that you will violate discipline in other areas.

The author urges you to be vigilant – you can lie down a bit later, eat a little more, skip a workout, but these little things will lead to the fact that you will cease to feel strong and disciplined and will feel weak and disorganized.

Idea 3: You Can Control Only Yourself

Other people will never live up to your expectations; they will never become the way you want them to be.

The author calls to get rid of idolatry and understand that even idols are ordinary people, far from ideal.

Those whom we praise are mistaken, they are weak, they can be selfish, arrogant, lazy, foolish, they can deceive, they do everything that everyone else does.

But this is even good because we can learn not only from their strength but from their weaknesses and mistakes.

The author calls to realize one simple truth – you cannot control other people, make them become the way you want. The only one you can control is you. Therefore, you need to focus not on how to change other people, but on yourself – on how to become stronger, smarter, better in different ways.

The ability to control the mind is important. But this is not about mysticism, hypnosis or extrasensory abilities, but about the ability to control your thoughts.

Modern scholars argue a lot about what consciousness is and where its source is, which means what we call “I”.

But the author approaches this issue simply – no need to go into details about what we are – the mind or the body or something else. It’s just what you call yourself, the one who reads these lines.

And you can control yourself, control like a machine. How to manage yourself? The recipe is simple and obvious in theory, but harder to put into practice.

To do this, stop doing what you think is wrong and start doing what you think is right. Do not give the right to vote weakness, laziness, bitterness, disappointment, bad mood.

The next time you feel lazy, emotionally weak, irritable, admit these feelings, but tell them that they do not get the right to vote.

The author is confident that we can fill our minds with the thoughts and mood we need – discipline, strength, will.

You can consciously decide that you want to be stronger, faster, smarter, friendlier, better person, and control your mind without giving a voice to everything that prevents you from achieving goals.

Often people argue about what is more important for success in life – our natural abilities or the upbringing we received (or did not receive).

According to the author, this is all empty talk. He worked with a wide variety of people – those who were lucky enough to be born in rich and loving families, to receive the best education in the world at the universities of the “ivy league”; he also worked with people whose families belonged to the working class; he worked with children who did not have families; and with those who were abused in childhood.

And among the representatives of each of these types of people met, both good people and bad, both successful and not.

According to the author, it is not a matter of nature or upbringing, it is a matter of the choice that each person makes – the decision to be successful, hard work.

Such a choice is never too late to make. For him, you are not too old and not too young. Do not wallow in thoughts and regrets about what you went through and where you are.

Think about where you are going and what you are choosing. Yes, we all have some limitations – someone will never be able to become a world-class dancer, someone – the best weightlifter in the world.

But the main thing is the desire to become as strong and smart as you are capable.

This will be a real victory.

Idea 4: Turn Weaknesses, Stress, and Fears Into Strength

The author admits that he is weak – he is not strong by nature, not flexible, not fast, he is not the smartest person in the world, he made many mistakes, ate bad food, slept little, lost time and procrastinated, worried about nonsense to the detriment of what was really important.

It is said that our strength often becomes our main weakness. But the opposite is also true – our weaknesses can become our greatest strength.

You may realize that you are weak and that you are behaving incorrectly, but that does not mean that you must accept it. And this does not mean that you are doomed to be so. The author calls not to accept his imperfections, but to fight every day, so that every day becomes better.

If your life is in trouble, if you are stressed, think about those people who have gone through terrible trials – wars, the loss of all loved ones, exile.

They endured them, and their stress, most likely, is not comparable with yours. These people endured the unbearable, which means you are capable of it. Therefore, when you are faced with a stressful situation, the first thing you need to do is to see it in perspective – to abstract, to cease to be involved in it.

You need to separate yourself from stress because stress is explained by too much involvement in the fact that you cannot control how on the battlefield you cannot control the actions of the enemy.

If your stress is related to what you can control, then you need more discipline and responsibility to do what depends on you. If your stress is related to something that you cannot control, accept it and think about how you can look at it from the other side.

Is it possible to extract something useful for me from what happened?

Don’t fight stress, accept it, use it to get better.

So it is with regrets. They are familiar to everyone, but there is no point in wallowing in them, becoming their slave. The bottom line is to use them to your advantage – to understand what conclusions we can draw from what happened, what to learn.

Use for your own benefit and fear of regrets – think about what you can regret after some time, and make sure that this does not happen.

Idea 5: to Maximize Your Potential, Connect Emotions and Logic

In order not to give up, you need to alternately connect emotions and logic.

When you feel that you are tired and want to quit, connect logic and willpower, tell yourself that you will not give up.

When you cannot find the reasons why you should continue, connect emotions – anger, annoyance, disappointment that will make you continue. In order not to stop, you need a balance of emotions and logic.

While working in the special forces, Joko Willink saw that his people were relaxing as soon as they felt that the main task of the mission was completed. But he wanted to wean them from this habit, since you can not relax until the whole mission is completed.

Therefore, during training, the platoon attacked harder on the way back to the base, when the main task had already been completed, and when the minds of the soldiers were already turned off.

This training was needed so that the soldiers remember that you can’t relax until the end, you always need to be alert and ready to attack.

The author advises to learn that this is also true for ordinary life, where we always have what we need to do, a new mission, a new task, a new goal.

In civilian life, we also wage war – against our weaknesses, ignorance, fears.

Idea 6: Face Fears, Including Fears of Mistakes

The fear of error is dangerous because it can make you abandon your intentions. Not wanting to take risks, you will not proceed to the realization of your plan. The obvious advice is not to be afraid of mistakes.

However, Joko Willink believes that we do not need to try to overcome the fear of error, but we need to listen to it.

Use it to your advantage, because this fear makes you better prepare, plan, train hard, think about unforeseen circumstances, it makes you smarter, more alert and more perfect.

Therefore, the author gives advice that contradicts what can be heard in the training and read in self-help books – beware of mistakes.

But besides mistakes, you need to be afraid of no less terrible things — the prospect of staying in place, doing nothing in your life, waiting for days, months, years, and never progressing towards your goal.

Fear is a natural feeling for any person. True courage does not lie in the absence of fear, but in what you do, despite fear. You need to understand that there will not be some wonderful moment when the fear is gone, it makes no sense to wait for it. There is only one way to overcome fear – to act, to take steps, even though you are afraid.

Continue to act, even if dark days come – the author believes that life is testing us and throws up problems according to Murphy’s law. But on such days, you just need to continue, realizing that trials make us stronger and better. You will only lose if you give up, Willink said.

Doubt arises at the moment of a pause between the idea and the action. If you ponder doubts for too long, you are missing out on opportunities, and doubt turns into cowardice. The author calls for overcoming moments of doubt with action.

Each person hears a voice that tells him – take a rest, stop it, skip the workout, make indulgence, stop. The author calls this the instinct, the protective mechanism of the ego. It seems that this voice sympathizes with you, wishes you comfort, says that you have done the best you are capable of. According to the author, this is the voice of the enemy, he is lying to you, so you must fight him and to destroy, do just what he suggests you not to do. Today do not want to train? Train. Don’t want to get up early? Get up early. Do not want to work? Work.

On the battlefield, everyone becomes concentrated, simply because they have no other choice.

But in ordinary life we ​​often lose focus, allow ourselves to be distracted and distracted. We can set significant long-term goals, but lose sight of them in the pursuit of short-term results. Then time passes, and we realize that we have not come close to the main point. We begin to rationalize, in order to justify ourselves – to consider that the goal was inappropriate, that it was necessary to stay in place.

The author urges you to never lose sight of your long-term goals – constantly remind yourself of them, post on posters in your room, write about them, talk. Do something every day that will move you closer to fulfilling your goal. Then your small projects will be steps towards large goals.

Idea 7: Turn Problems Into Opportunities

Joko Willink believes that you need to react stoically to failures, mistakes, and defeats. When things go wrong, he says, “good.” The mission is canceled – well, the next one will be successful.

You have not received the expected promotion at work – good, you will try harder and get more.

You have not been hired by your dreams – good, you will get more experience and find work even better.

Unexpected problems are good, as they provide an opportunity to find a solution. When everything goes wrong, there is no point in being upset and wailing. And this is not thoughtless positive thinking. You do not deny problems, but you concentrate not on them, but on solutions.

But what to do with the worst – when it’s not just about the problem, but about the tragedy, death of a loved one, friend?

The author believes that in this case too, we can find positive aspects. Yes, the deceased cannot be returned, but we can be grateful that this person was in our life in general, even for a short period of time. There are memories of a unique personality, that this person brought into our lives.

We can be grateful for the wonderful moments, for the fact that life provided an opportunity to share them with another person. Yes, death is cruel, inevitable, unpredictable. But it is a part of life. And the people who leave teach us how precious life is, how unique the opportunity that we have received is unique.

We must remember the departed and honor their memory, but we should not live in memories, the author believes.

Life is unfair, often death takes the best. This is true. But what’s next? Does this mean that we must give up, spend our lives in fear and depression? The author is sure that no matter how terrible things happen, a person is able to endure them, to pass all tests with honor.

When your spirit does not give up, you win a real victory.

Another problem is the negative people who gossip behind your back, condemn you. Yes, you can confront them and join their petty game. And then they will get satisfaction from hitting you, from the fact that they took possession of your thoughts. If the situation requires it, you must answer, but it is important to do it right. The author advises me to answer this way: “I heard you have some tips on what I need to do. I would really like to receive feedback from you in order to become better. ” Such an unexpected move will destroy the usual scenario for this person. He will know that there is someone who reports to you about his words. Nevertheless, it is best to ignore such people and become better than them. Improve yourself while they discuss you and gossip behind you.

Idea 8: Exercise Will Make You Not Only Healthier but Also More Self-confident and Smarter.

Thanks to physical exercises, the level of endorphins, testosterone, growth hormone rises, the volume of the heart increases, insulin sensitivity rises, and the number of natural killer cells increases.

They help overcome health problems – high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insomnia, and depression. Exercise even makes you smarter, as it increases blood flow to the brain, growth hormones promote the growth of new nerve cells, and the plasticity of synapses increases.

Many people wonder what exercises should be, what they should consist of. As the author answers, anything. Walk, run, swim, lift weights, play team games – all if you have no contraindications.

Often, uncertainty about what to do becomes an excuse for not doing anything.

The author’s training consists of several types of movements – pull-ups, pushing, weight lifting, squats.

But you do not necessarily need complex exercises or a scientifically proven methodology. You just need to do at least something.

You do not even need to go to the gym – you can build your own home. Start with horizontal bars, gymnastic rings are also useful – this is the simplest equipment that will help you perform a very large range of exercises at home. You can then purchase a squat rack, barbell, and dumbbell. This is basic equipment and that’s almost all you need.

When you start training, track your progress – record changes in weight, well-being at the end of a workout, and time for workouts. So you better be able to set goals and track that are not overtrained.

Joko Willink believes that everyone needs to practice martial arts, but it’s important to choose them correctly.

Often the enthusiasm for martial arts by their adherents is similar to religious fanaticism, they are ready to argue endlessly and prove their case, but, as the author notes, practice has shown what works and what doesn’t.

The author recommends starting with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This martial art has a significant advantage since it teaches you to get rid of the aggressor on earth, and then to escape from it. And in general, to escape from the aggressor is the first form of self-defense. This is easy to do if the opponent starts swinging his fists or legs, but when you are caught and knocked to the ground, you cannot just run away.

Jiu-juitsu teaches you what to do if someone grabs you, knocks you down and puts you on the ground.

Another reason why it’s best to start learning martial arts with Brazilian jiu-jitsu is because it is the most complex type of martial arts in which there are many movements.

After jiu-jitsu, the author advises you to start boxing, in which you will learn how to use your hand

Thai boxing, in which there is a large arsenal of leg movements.

Wrestling, in which you can learn to keep the enemy on the ground.

It is also worth discovering for yourself – judo, sambo, and other martial arts.

Thanks to martial arts, you will be better physically prepared, they will give you self-confidence and mental incentives for further development.

Idea 9: A Healthy Lifestyle Requires Good Sleep and Proper Nutrition.

An important aspect of a healthy lifestyle is full sleep. Lack of sleep leads to unwanted hormonal changes, increased blood pressure, depression of the immune system, loss of muscle mass, and the ability to concentrate worsens.

How much sleep do you need?

Different people have different needs for sleep, but you can change it and sleepless, it’s easier to wake up and fall asleep faster if you eat healthy food and lead a healthy lifestyle. Many complain that it is difficult for them to wake up, but the obvious solution to this problem is to fall asleep earlier. Another equally common problem is difficulty falling asleep.

To make it easier to fall asleep, the author advises:

To get tired. Be active throughout the day.

Turn off your computer and gadgets. The Internet is filled with information created by people whose task is to keep you on the screen.

Read before bedtime. But do not read a very good book, let it be an educational, but boring book.

To fall asleep early, you need to wake up early. And if you want to train yourself to get up at 5 in the morning, you need to go to bed at 10 in the evening.

But if you went to 12, still get up to 5, so you get tired and fall asleep easier.

Follow the regime every day, even on weekends.

If you feel tired during the day, a short 10-15 minute afternoon nap will help you. During such a dream, the author advises putting your legs above the body to normalize blood circulation. But do not let these short sleep breaks turn into a long sleep, because because of them you will have problems with going to bed in the evening.

One of the main characteristics of our body is the ability to self-regulation, homeostasis. When it’s cold, we tremble, when it’s too hot, we sweat, and the body cools itself. Our body also has systems to maintain a balance of acidity, blood pressure, and potassium concentration in the blood.

The inability of the body to maintain proper balance in these systems can lead to serious health problems. One of the important abilities of our body is the regulation of blood sugar/glucose levels. And we can influence our blood sugar through what we eat. When we eat a lot of carbohydrates, blood sugar rises significantly.

To regulate high sugar levels, the body uses the hormone insulin, which turns sugar into fat cells. And if we do not use reserves of fat, then get fatter. But weight gain is not the only problem. Another problem is insulin resistance, in which cells do not respond to insulin. They acquire insulin resistance, do not use it, which ultimately leads to hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes.

High levels of insulin in the blood lead to heart disease, strokes, retinopathy (blindness), and renal failure.

The solution is simple – stop eating carbohydrates, especially sweets, or at least reduce their intake. But for many people it is very difficult, because carbohydrates are addictive, akin to narcotic.

Studies show that eating sweets stimulates the same areas of the brain as heroin. When a person stops eating sweets, he has a withdrawal syndrome – a headache occurs, he becomes irritable and anxious. To remove this condition, he again has a sweet. Therefore, the author calls sweets not food, but poison.

He himself considers healthy food that our ancestors ate even before the advent of the modern diet. The modern diet originated about 10,000 years ago when people learned to cultivate crops and engage in agriculture. It was mainly cereals – wheat, rice, corn. But our bodies have not yet adapted for this meal.

When we eat cereals, they turn into sugar in our body. And insulin levels are rising. The author advises to adhere to a paleo diet with a minimum of carbohydrates and completely eliminate processed foods. If healthy food is not available, for example, on an airplane or in a restaurant, the author advises simply not to eat – observe the post.

He believes temporary fasting is very beneficial for health, as it improves recovery processes, increases endorphins, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Temporary fasting also has psychological advantages. You train your willpower, and you can also reconsider your attitude to hunger and food and understand that most of the time you do not experience hunger. The author advises to adhere to a paleo diet with a minimum of carbohydrates and completely eliminate processed foods.

If healthy food is not available, for example, on an airplane or in a restaurant, the author advises simply not to eat – observe the post. He believes temporary fasting is very beneficial for health, as it improves recovery processes, increases endorphins, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Temporary fasting also has psychological advantages.

You train your willpower, and you can also reconsider your attitude to hunger and food and understand that most of the time you do not experience hunger.

The author advises to adhere to a paleo diet with a minimum of carbohydrates and completely eliminate processed foods.

If healthy food is not available, for example, on an airplane or in a restaurant, the author advises simply not to eat – observe the post. He believes temporary fasting is very beneficial for health, as it improves recovery processes, increases endorphins, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Temporary fasting also has psychological advantages. You train your willpower, and you can also reconsider your attitude to hunger and food and understand that most of the time you do not experience hunger.

He believes intermittent fasting is very beneficial for health, as it improves recovery processes, increases endorphins, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting also has psychological advantages. You train your willpower, and you can also reconsider your attitude to hunger and food and understand that most of the time you do not experience hunger.


Despite the fact that the ideas of the book by Joko Willinka will be well known to people familiar with the literature on self-development, the presentation of the material itself, the original design and experience of the author make this book worthy of attention.

It is felt that the author tested each piece of advice on his own experience, experienced it and has the full moral right to give it.

In the book of Joko Willink, you will not find invented examples and abstract theorizing.

His advice is sometimes simple to the point of banality, but in general, the book will surely make you think about the direction your life is moving in, and perhaps change it.

Why You Should Read “Discipline Equals Freedom”

  • To give up bad habits and build the good ones
  • To become stronger, mentally and physically
  • To build an earthshattering discipline that will help you achieve anything you want

Get Discipline Equals Freedom: