Discipline Equals Freedom: Book Summary

by | Oct 27, 2021 | Reading

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I recently read Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink. One of my development plans this year is to focus on mindset and mental toughness. Willink knows a thing or two about mental toughness since he was a Navy Seal. I love that he doesn’t pull any punches and doesn’t allow any room for us to make excuses.

If you are looking for a field manual to help you with both mental and physical toughness, I encourage you to read this book. You can purchase it here. (Affiliate Link)

Below are some of my highlights, taken directly from the book during my reading… 


Part One: Thoughts

    • We are the product of our mistakes…The most important thing to learn is that we have so much to learn…The most important thing to understand about regret is that in and of itself, regret is worthless. It does nothing for you. In fact: The only thing valuable in regret is the lesson you learned. (Page 51 · Location 545)
    • How do I deal with setbacks, failures, delays, defeats, or other disasters? I actually have a fairly simple way of dealing with these situations, summed up in one word: “Good.” This is something that one of my direct subordinates, one of the guys who worked for me, a guy who became one of my best friends, pointed out. He would pull me aside with some major problem or some issue that was going on, and he’d say, “Boss, we’ve got this thing, this situation, and it’s going terribly wrong.” I would look at him and I’d say:“ Good.”…So I explained to him that when things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that will come from it…Oh, mission got canceled? 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. Didn’t get the job you wanted? Good. Go out, gain more experience, and build a better resume. Got injured? Good. Needed a break from training. Got tapped out? Good. It’s better to tap out in training than to tap out on the street. Got beat? Good. We learned. Unexpected problems? Good. We have the opportunity to figure out a solution…Accept reality, but focus on the solution. (Page 60 · Location 664)
    • Don’t worry about motivation. Motivation is fickle. It comes and goes. It is unreliable and when you are counting on motivation to get your goals accomplished—you will likely fall short. So. Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline. (Page 68 · Location 738)
    • People ask me, “How are you doing?”…If I were to speak truthfully when people asked me how I was doing, I would tell them: “It doesn’t matter how I’m doing.” Because that’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if I feel good or bad or excited or bored or happy or sad. IT DOESN’T MATTER. I am going to do what I am supposed to do. (Page 105 · Location 1096)
    • DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY…When you view things in your life from a long-term, strategic perspective, then absolutely: Do what makes you happy. The problem comes when people decide to let that ethos drive their daily life…These actions all result in short-term happiness. The problem is they all also result in long-term misery…Don’t do what makes you happy. Do what makes you better. (Page 107 · Location 1115)
    • THE COUNT IS ZERO. Wake up with that attitude every day. You have to prove yourself all over again. You have to earn your seat at the table. You have to GET AFTER IT. (Page 111 · Location 1145)


Part Two: Actions

    • By working out, you will increase your endorphins, testosterone, growth hormones, cardiac volume, insulin sensitivity, and natural killer cells. Those changes will help prevent or treat the following health issues: high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insomnia, and depression…Working out will make you smarter. Yes: Smarter. It improves blood flow to the brain. It boosts growth hormones that promote growth of new nerve cells. It improves synaptic plasticity, the ability for neurons to send and receive messages. It releases brain chemicals that help cognition, like: dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and serotonin. It also boosts the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps with mental processes. (Page 141 · Location 1422)
    • Discipline begets discipline. Will propagates MORE WILL. (Page 148 · Location 1481)
    • Everyone should train in martial arts, just as everyone should eat. (Page 166 · Location 1614)


Fuel: Feeding the Machine

    • Fasting will recalibrate what hunger is to you. You will realize that you aren’t actually hungry most of the time. You are just bored. And, at the end of a fast, your food will taste better, too. (Page 201 · Location 1895)


Repair and Maintenance: Injury Prevention and Recovery

    • My theory for overcoming injuries and illnesses is simple: DO WHAT YOU CAN…Take advantage of physical injuries and sickness by doing something you don’t normally have time for. (Page 207 · Location 1933)


Game Plan

The premise of this book is that being mentally and physically disciplined will lead to freedom. Freedom from anxiety, insecurity, and most importantly a self-defeating mindset. In which area do you need more discipline: mental or physical? After determining that, what is one thing you can start doing this week to increase your discipline in that area?


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