By Miles Clyne
I was recently introduced to the work of John “Jocko” Willink. Jocko co-authored the book Extreme Ownership. I haven’t read it yet, but listened to a podcast where he was interviewed. Jocko is a decorated, combat-proven former US Marine Seal officer. He is now a coach for anyone interested in training to lead high-performance teams.
Battle-hardened and brutally honest, the message in the podcast was pretty straight forward: discipline equals freedom. I have zero combat experience, so I won’t pretend to comprehend the challenges the men and women who have served have faced. But Jocko’s message was impossible to miss. On the battlefield there was little room for random actions. The ultimate goal was success of the mission, and survival. And it was probably not in that order.
Listening to what Jocko had to say about discipline equaling freedom rang very true for me. Without discipline, we often lead a life of minimal direction, and ultimately gain very little true freedom. A lack of discipline can show up in any or all aspects of our lives, from employment, to relationships, health and finances. In my opinion, finding joy in our lives should be a high priority. The less discipline we apply in any area of our lives, the more challenging it will be.
I believe one of the greatest gifts a parent, friend, or advisor can give is the expectation of discipline. This includes everything from honesty, keeping promises, to intolerance of abuse of oneself and others. Expecting less, lessens our lives. The people I want in my life are those with high expectations of not only themselves, but of me.
You don’t have to be a Navy Seal to appreciate the value of disciple, but hearing from someone who’s life, and many others depended upon discipline, helps us appreciate the importance. My experience is that we are more disciplined when we have goals that are meaningful to us.
If better health was our goal, it wouldn’t happen overnight, but any steps towards improving our diet and exercise will ultimately get us closer to where we need to be. Maybe one less dessert a week and one longer walk. The same laws apply to all other aspects of our lives that we want to improve. I know it is all too true with regard to our personal wealth. The advice, just start, we get nowhere without a change in our behavior. The first step is personal discipline, and the second is taking full ownership. But that’s for another time, after I’ve read Jocko’s book.