Discipline Equals Freedom – Jocko Willink (Book Summary)

When Jocko Willink has somethings to say, you stop whatever you are doing, listen, and learn.

When he writes a book, you’d better get it as fast as you can and start becoming a better version of yourself.

No nonsense(I mean BS) manual on how to be a warrior in daily life. How to destroy laziness, anxiety, and inner fears.

It teaches you the success principles that will support you through your lifetime.

Why You Should Read Discipline Equals Freedom?

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

Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Freedom

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Check the book on Amazon or, browse my Top 10 Books

The Book in One Paragraph

To achieve any goal – in career, sports, or finance – you need endurance, 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.

In Discipline Equals Freedom, Jocko Willink gives specific recommendations for overcoming fears, weaknesses, bad habits, and procrastination. The book also 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 want.

Lessons I Have Learned

  • Lesson #1: To achieve any worthy goal in your life you have to be disciplined.
  • Lesson #2: Motivation is ephemeral. You can start practicing good habits and get rid of the bad ones just by using your self-discipline.
  • Lesson #3: Work with what you have. Postponing things for tomorrow and procrastinating is not an option.
  • Lesson #4: Waking up early can give an enormous edge over your “enemies”.
  • Lesson #5: Proper diet and training build discipline and sharpen your mind.

How The Book Changed Me

  • It helped me fight anxiety and stress during a tough period of my life.
  • It made me realize that self-discipline is one of the most necessary parts of my life.
  • It encouraged me to wake up at 5:30 almost every morning.

Discipline Equals Freedom Summary + Key Ideas

As you’ve already learned from the points above, Discipline Equals Freedom is a kind of book that certainly has something to offer even to the most educated and sophisticated reader.

Down below, I’ve listed the most important ideas, concepts, and insights from the book that I hope you will find useful and helpful.

Let’s get started with the first key idea:

Key Idea #1: There is no shortcut. Nothing worth having comes easy

victory comes with hard work

We live in a society where it is normal 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.

According to Jocko 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.

Let me repeat that again:

  • Your goals will not accomplish 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.

The question is:

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.

Which brings us to the second key idea:

Key Idea #2: The best place to start is here. The best time to start is now

start here and now

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 is an unstoppable spirit of struggle, a desire to win.

Now, let’s move on to the next key idea.

Key Idea #3: You should Take Control over your mind

powerful mind

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; 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. Speaking of which…

Key Idea #4: Start Waking up early. Really early

wake up early

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 – the 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.

Key Idea #5: Eat Proper Food and Start Exercising

Training at home

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 gym. Start with pull-up 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.

Jocko 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.

Jocko 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-jitsu teaches you what to do if someone grabs you, knocks you down, and puts you on the ground.
  • After jiu-jitsu, the author advises you to start boxing, in which you will learn how to use your hands.
  • 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.

Regardless of which martial art you choose, they will all bring great benefits for your self-dicipline and health.

Putting It All Together

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

However, the author tested each piece of advice on his own experience, experienced it, and has the full moral right to share it.

In the book of Jocko 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.

Going Beyond the Summary

You wouldn’t expect me to leave you with the book summary alone, would you?

There are some extra materials I would like to share with you.

They might make a great addition to the knowledge you gained from the summary above.

So if you are up to going down the rabbit hole, I suggest you the following resources.

Recommended Reading

If you like Discipline Equals Freedom, you may also enjoy the following books:

Purchase the Original Book

There is always much more to discover from the full-text books.

Most of the time, you will even find some additional ideas and insights that have almost nothing to do with the book’s main topic.

So if you found my summary helpful and the book worth your time, consider buying the original version on Amazon or browse for more book summaries to discover more promising titles.


Additional References

  1. Willpower and Personal Rules by Roland Bénabou, and Jean Tirole
  2. The Physiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self-Control Matthew T. Gailliot, Roy F. Baumeister
  3. ‘Willpower’ over the life span: decomposing self-regulation Walter Mischel