Jocko Willink is probably one the scariest people you could meet. He’s 230 pounds and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. He spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy and commanded the most highly decorated special operations unit from the Iraq war. He served as the officer-in-charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams. He created and implemented some of the most challenging combat training in the world. He co-founded Echelon Front, a management and leadership consulting company and co-authored the New York Times Bestseller Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEAL’s Lead and Win. He also discusses war, life and leadership on his podcast.
Jocko says that if he had to put something on a billboard it would be “discipline equals freedom”. This seems a little contradictory at first, but he essentially means that you can use positive constraints to increase perceived free-will and results. While you might think having nothing to do all day is the dream, it can actually be daunting because you continually have every option available to you. You’ll have to think about “what to do next” all day which can lead to decision fatigue.
He says to help with this, you can have some things pre-planned. He gives the example of pre-scheduled workouts and says they “act as scaffolding around which you can more effectively plan and execute your day”.
We all dream about days off from work, when we think we will be happy with nothing to do. If you’ve ever been on a long vacation or had a break for a couple weeks, you might have noticed that it was fun for the first couple of days, but then you found yourself bored, waiting to get back to your normal schedule. Jocko wholeheartedly believes this is from decision fatigue. You’re getting weighed down by having too many choices. He is firm in the belief that you need discipline to achieve freedom. This can be in any aspect. He says, “if you want freedom in your life — be that financial freedom, more free time, or even freedom from sickness and poor health — you can only achieve these things through discipline”.
For example, if you think about wanting freedom from sickness or poor health and work backwards, you’ll need to be eating healthy and working out to maintain your body so you don’t get sick. If you are disciplined and have scheduled workouts and a meal plan that you stick to everyday, you are going to be free of sickness and bad health because you put the time in to keep yourself healthy. This is the same concept that can be applied to any aspect of your life.
Let us know if you agree with Jocko in the comments below!
Ferriss, Timothy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers HMH Books, 2016.