No other book I have read in the last couple of years has kept the fire burning within me like this one. Discipline Equals Freedom, by Jocko Willink is exceptional. The current “Expanded” edition includes even more Jocko wisdom.
For a few seconds, I thought I may have reviewed the first book, but then I decided it didn’t make any difference because this is the expanded version and I will focus on what was added.
Before I get into the added material something needs to be said about the overall book. It is Jocko Willink’s defense of his belief that discipline equals freedom. Just like the Tao, Jocko titles one section, “The Way of Discipline.”
There is no shortcut or “hack” says Jocko. Not in this book. He assumes that if you bought his book you want to be “stronger, smarter, faster healthier and better.” He stresses that to achieve these things there is no easy way and he defines discipline as being “the root of all good qualities.” Here is exactly how he puts it:
“Discipline: the root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: Not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow.”
The Binary Code
Jocko introduces the binary code in this expanded edition. He says “machines make their decisions based on binary code. Yes or no. So if you ask yourself if you are going to work out the answer is either yes or no. Are you going to eat that donut? Yes or no.
This way of thinking makes every decision much simpler or as Jocko says, “It’s not complicated.”
We hear a lot about this these days and Jocko says, “One of the most powerful things you can do as a human being is detach. Detach from your ego. Detach from your emotions. Detach from your perspective. Detach from yourself.”
Then he goes on to describe how to do that. “Take a step back. Physically change your respective by stepping back. Put your hands at your sides. Lift your chin just a little bit. This opens your airway and forces you into a slightly vulnerable physical posture…” Take some deep breaths and listen.
He says people talk about how they self-sabotage because they are afraid to win but he says they are afraid to work. That they are lazy!
“Don’t be lazy,” he says.
People ask him how he is doing and he says fine or good, but according to him, it doesn’t matter how he is doing, because he is going to do what he is supposed to do.
He says that is the real truth. It only matters that he is doing what he is supposed to do.
I can remember listening to Dr. Lara Schlesinger, a talk show host that answered calls from listeners and gave advice. She would tell them that happiness didn’t matter and that all the mattered was whether or not you were useful.
Jocko takes a similar stance by saying not to do what makes you happy but to do what makes you better. “Do what challenges you. Do what pushes you. Do what sets you up for long-term strategic success.”
Internal Thoughts and Dialogue
When I hike I repeat mantras to myself. They help me to get to the top of a mountain especially if I am struggling that day. For example, “I am powerful. I am strong. I can do this all day long.”
Jocko disagrees. He says that he thinks about nothing. “In fact: I shut my mind down and do what I am supposed to do.” He says to “turn off your brain and let your body function independently.” That would be very hard for me. It is the one thing in his book that I would struggle to accomplish. Turning my mind off is very difficult.
There is so much more in this book. Please buy it and read it for yourself.