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Former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink Explains Why Discipline Equals Freedom

Video Transcript

[Music] we feature in the magazine and on the podcasts every month a lot of amazing leaders the top people in their fields who have studied or lived the lessons that they teach and my interview guest today is the latter Jocko willink was our April cover figure the April issue of success there it is it’s okay don’t be afraid he’s cool Jocko has taken his experience as a Navy SEAL officer and brought it to the world at large he spent 20 years as part of US Navy SEAL Teams he was commander of SEAL team threes task unit bruiser during the battle of Ramadi he orchestrated seal operations that helped the ready first brigade of the US Army’s 1st Armored Division bring stability to the city of Ramadi Jocko returned from Iraq to serve as officer in charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams and there he spearheaded the development and leadership training personally in structuring and mentoring the next generation of SEAL leaders that have continued to perform with great set success and bravery on the battlefield he now has translated his leadership lessons into his company s Shalon front raised a leadership instructor speaker and executive coach he is also the author of the mega bestseller extreme ownership how US Navy SEALs lead and win and he hosts the very popular Jocko podcast it is one of the most listened to fastest-growing podcasts for leaders of all stripes including civilians like you and me everyone bring him out give a round of applause let’s welcome a hero Jacko willing [Music] all right Jocko thanks for being here thanks for having me out appreciate it our theme for the discussion today is one of the guiding tenets of your life it happens to be the name of your new book out October 17th discipline equals freedom a field guide so discipline equals freedom what does that mean to you well I think the freedom part is pretty easy for everyone to understand I think that everybody wants freedom in all the various aspects of their life whether it’s financial freedom those are the two examples I bring up all the time are financial freedom of course everyone wants financial freedom everyone wants to have more free time those are two really easy examples to understand and if you want to have financial freedom well then how are you going to get there the answer is you have to have financial discipline and same thing with more free time if you want to have more free time then you have to have a more disciplined time management schedule and you have to have discipline in your life to say no to the things that aren’t actually moving you towards whatever goals you have so you know you have to have the discipline to to not click the next YouTube video that springs up when you get done watching one dumb video that you should know watched and then it presents you with six more don’t click on those go and do something else and do something productive it’s counterintuitive in a way so it’s it almost seems like something that only someone who has lived that way can testify to well yeah it is definitely counterintuitive because you know one of the things you were just talking about is sleeping in in the morning right it seems like sleeping in the morning is a form of freedom because hey I don’t have to do anything I’m just gonna sleep in but the reality is is when you sleep in now you don’t get things done and now those things that you were supposed to do aren’t done and now the next day you have to wake up early and get them done not because you want to but because you have to so you’ve become a slave to the fact that you didn’t have discipline so if you actually want to have freedom in your life you have to implement discipline on yourself before we get too far away from the theme tell us about the book it’s a field guide yeah it’s discipline equals freedom Field Manual I’m sorry it’s okay you’ll be punished later and so so what it is is honestly there’s not there’s not I’ve never seen a book like this it’s it’s written in a way that’s not normal prose writing it’s broken down into sections two major sections one of them is called thought and the other one is called action and so the thoughts section is kind of the things that I think about and the the reasons and the the kind of why I am the way I am and then the actions are the actual things that I do in my life from workouts to what I eat to how I sleep to how I recover from injuries to how I actually manage my day and train so that’s the way it’s broken up and like I said it’s it’s it’s different from any book that I’ve ever seen so it’ll be interesting what the public thinks of it we’ll find out shortly so I possibly I know you heard the wus and the Rose there are some people here who know you for anyone who doesn’t let’s talk about your background a little bit what drove you to enlist in the seals as a teenager you know I was one of those kids that I was running around the woods taking every stick I could find him pretending it was a machine gun and at some point you know probably around the age of seven or eight I realized that you could actually go and have a job where they’d give you a real machine gun and I said to myself I can get paid for this so eventually figured out that I figured out what the SEAL Teams were I like being in the water and the SEAL Teams were obviously the maritime component of Special Operations and so it seemed like the place to go and that’s where I ended up it’s a major commitment for anyone but as an 18 year old or a 19 oh and this is when people make this commitment do they do they have any idea what’s really in store for them did you I honestly thought I would be dead in five years once I got in there that that’s literally what I thought I thought seals were just all over the world fighting in all these wars and I was gonna go and do that too and I was ready to rock and roll so you’ve told me before that one of your favorite things about being a seal was the training when you were going through it yourself and the physical and tactical work that goes into becoming a seal what was it that you loved about that so much well you know a lot of times when people think of the training and the SEAL Teams they think of the training that you see on TV which is you know the guys carrying the boats on their head and carrying the logs around and and that’s what a lot of people talk about but that that actually is just the beginning of of your career and and when you’re in the SEAL Teams no one actually talks about that and no one actually cares because all of us have been through it and you don’t actually learn anything about being a seal in that initial phase of training and so yeah you go through that training a bunch of people quit that’s cool but what I really liked about it was the tactics of when you’re actually a commando and you’re maneuvering elements on the battlefield and you’re closing with and destroying the enemy or you’re training to be able to do that that’s that’s a fantastic job it’s fun it changes all the time it’s dynamic and yeah it’s it’s really hard to find a replacement for that in the civilian sector you you learned a lot of these guiding principles that have shaped your life ever since as an eighteen or nineteen year old did you need them after your you know upbringing your teenage years were you reckless or unruly did you did you need the discipline yes one could say I was fairly unruly as a kid that was a little bit of a maniac of a kid and that’s one thing that was great about the military for me was it’s a clean slate number one and then they give you very specific okay this is what you need to do to succeed and so you show up a SEAL team and they say you got to learn about this radio and here’s what you need to know about it and if you know that you’re gonna be successful in that department and here’s what you know about this weapon and if you learn that then you’ll be successful and that’s a great a great base to start from and then eventually what what you really learn in the SEAL Teams is that what you have to do is you have to be able to think you have to be able to problem-solve and you have to be able to look at complex problems simplify them and then implement solutions to them and that’s what comes a little later once you have that base but it’s it’s a little bit different from what people think because a lot of times people think that the military is everything is super rigid and structured and that all you’re doing is getting orders from above you and the chain of command and you’re executing those orders well that’s actually not true at all and and what you’re really doing in the military is you’re you’re looking at complex problems on the battlefield and you’re coming up with a solution with your team on how to get those problems solved and that’s why I think that part of the military even though it’s not well known it does translate great into the civilian sector because this is what businesspeople and now obviously I work with businesses all the time and that’s what the businesses are doing they’re looking at these problems that they have in whatever industry they’re in and they’re trying to find out solutions so they can execute them quickly and efficiently but by the way it is hard if anyone has any doubts about that and there were as you mentioned people would quit and you’ve told me before that was one of your favorite things of going through the training is is seeing seeing people who didn’t didn’t have it in them to keep going why why did that motivate you or why did you like that mainly it was just really funny you get these guys that were you know a lot of the guys that would quit were guys that were running around thinking that they were super tough and acting like they were super tough and you know it’s not that’s just not the case always and so it was really interesting I guess to see to see people break down and you’d see someone that was acting like a real tough guy and after they’ve been through you know a few days without sleep and a bunch of hard exercises all of a sudden they’re ringing the bell and me I was not a great I was never a great athlete I was never a superstar at any sport but I wasn’t gonna quit and so I guess that’s why I had a little little inner satisfaction watching guys that would just give up it’s kind of sad in some ways too in a way you just as you describe it it sounds like authenticity and you know being able to show or express what you don’t know or what or or maybe some small form of weakness and I have to get I have to get better and acknowledgement that you have to get better can keep you going and and and and keep you from breaking yeah I mean you definitely have to be humble and when you show up in the SEAL Teams and when I showed up with the SEAL Teams as a new guy like I said even though I’d been through this tough training you you better be humble when you show up the SEAL Teams because you don’t know anything and if you think you know something you find out really quickly that you don’t and so it’s it’s actually easy because if you haven’t if you’re humble and you have an open mind and you’re willing to listen the guys are willing to teach you and it’s fundamental fundamental things that you can learn pretty quickly but anybody that comes in that’s arrogant that thinks they know everything they’re gonna have problems and again that’s the same thing you see in the business world when we work with companies where the company that is actually asking us to come in and you know maybe the CEO saying hey we want you to come and help us that company they’re already doing well they’re already being successful and their attitude is hey we need help we want to get better we want to be more successful and those companies they ramped up really quickly and we have a great time working with them sometimes we work with companies where let’s say we get brought in by the board brings us in because the company’s not doing well well right off the bat the company’s not doing well and they don’t think they need any help and so it’s it’s the opposite effect they’re saying well we’re we don’t need any help we don’t need you guys here and the fact of the matter is they need us more than the other folks do but the reason that they need help is the reason we’re there in the first place it’s the reason they’re not doing well because they’re not looking at themselves every day humbly and saying what can we do better how can we improve how can we adjust right now and turn our game around or improve our game so that we can get better in the market do you’ve written before and I know talked about on your podcast just humility as a vital vital trait of any leader in the seals if you’re not humble it could get you and your team killed how does that work exactly if are you is it about closing yourself off from ideas from other people it’s it’s that’s definitely one of them you know if you and I are working together and I’m the boss and I have a big ego and I think I’m better than you and you come to me with an idea I immediately shot you out well what if your plan was a better plan or what if you had some piece of knowledge that made sense for a particular operation but my ego is too big to listen to you well now we go out and we put lives at risk and possibly lose lives because my ego is too big same thing you could say about the enemy right if I don’t think the enemy is is any good all the enemies know good there they don’t train hard and they’re not prepared for for the big tough seals well if you have that attitude guess what maybe those guys are training harder and if you start cutting corners and you’re training you’re gonna get caught and obviously it’s the same thing in the business world when a company is doing well if the company stays humble while they’re doing well they’re still looking for how they can improve they’re still looking for things that they can do better and they will stay on top but the minute a company says that’s right we’re the best and no one else even stands a chance well guess what those people down there on the bottom they’re hungry and they’re gonna come and get them so you didn’t start out as a leader you worked your way up through the ranks and and you learned from people and experiences who or what shaped you well it’s really lucky again it’s a great environment to grow up in you know from a kid basically and seeing and being in Co platoons with very types of leadership and I was very lucky that I saw really outstanding leaders and I saw some leaders that weren’t outstanding at all far from it and you can learn from both and I learned from both you know and even as a young kid i’ts I I wouldn’t put it together a hundred percent but I’d say and that that guy does something that makes us all want to do a good job for him I want to act like that guy and this guy over here he makes us all mad and we don’t even want to come to work and work for him I’m not gonna act like him and eventually I kind of figured out what those traits were that they had and actually humility being one of the most important ones that I noticed with the people we wanted to work for and I wanted you do a good job for those guys are the most humble people and ironically always the most experienced too so the most experienced people would be the most humble and the least experienced people would be the least humble and and be the most imposing of how they wanted to do things which is not a good way to lead what are some of the experiences that shaped the leadership philosophies you would develop well it was my whole career but really the the solidification of what I talk about now and what I wrote about with with my brother Lafe babban who’s another seal to serve with me in the battle of Ramadi what we what we talk about now is those lessons that we learned throughout our career that were solidified in the Battle of Ramadi and set certified battle-tested and really you know I say it all the time combat is the harshest of teachers and it teaches lessons that you’re not going to forget and and that’s true and so the lessons that we brought home from Ramadi it’s the same thing the same thing that I taught when I was teaching the young seal officers how to lead on the battlefield is literally the exact same thing that’s in the book extreme ownership and it’s the same thing we teach to companies when we’re all working with them so let’s talk about the ways that discipline governs your life today you’re obviously an incredible physical shape you have a strict diet and exercise regimens that you stick to what are what are some other musts for you on a daily basis to make sure that you’re getting the most out of yourself I mean fundamentally you know this this is so easy and so hard you know people say how can I get discipline in my life and I tell them step number one is wake up early and I know people don’t want to do it it’s harsh I know that your alarm clock is you know your most hated object in your bedroom I get that but here’s the deal with with getting up early in the morning when you get up early in the morning if you can get up before the rest of the world is awake right before the enemy’s awake before the rest of the world is awake you can get so much done you’re so much more productive without your phone going off without people sending you emails and texting you or calling you and you wake up in the morning there’s just quiet and you can get things done and you should do things and I do things in the morning that I know they’re a priority for my life but maybe they’re not a priority for that day right so like for instance working out or working out you got to work out everyday you got to stay in shape if you want to I mean if you don’t stay in shape you die right so you got to stay in shape but but working out might not be a priority for every single day because you’ve got things going on in your business world and with your family and all that so guess what it’s a priority for my life so I do it in the morning before my day even starts so I can still handle the priorities for the day but I got my workout done so long-term I look up in a year and I’m not out of shape and breathing hard when I go up in the stairs because I maintain that discipline on a daily basis so I think getting up early I think doing some kind of exercise every day I don’t care what it is I don’t you just have to do something you have to do something physical there’s it’s scientifically proven with not only bro science but also real science that that waking up early or that doing physical exercise every day it Tunes your mind it puts more oxygen in your blood in your brain it is absolutely makes you think more clearly so waking up early working out every day if you start with those two kind of cornerstones and then the other thing is you know figure out what you’re gonna do during the day go don’t don’t go to bed without a plan of how you’re gonna handle the next day your days very structured I know that you write at the same time every day you you have scheduled yeah I have a schedule and I execute the schedule and that’s what you need to do now you actually said that my my time is very structured and it’s actually a little bit not true parts of my day are very structured parts of my day are very disciplined which gives me freedom in other parts of the day and as a matter of fact when people sometimes people will will get okay I’m gonna I’m gonna run a discipline time management schedule so they schedule every single minute of the day and I don’t recommend that just like I wouldn’t recommend conducting a seal operation where your time line is so tight that there’s no room for error because that’s not a that’s not a possibility you’re gonna have errors things are gonna go wrong vehicles gonna brake boats are gonna break people are gonna get lost you’re gonna take a wrong turn and so you’re gonna need extra time and it’s the same thing with your day if you schedule you know 16 hours of your day you’re not gonna hit all your targets but if you look at your workday and you you know you’ve got an eight-hour workday you’re gonna be in your office and you schedule four or five of those hours and you have three hours that you’re gonna fill in and you’re gonna put important things into those as they come up that is a much better way to be successful with with running a time management on your life and so I only schedule hard core like four hours a day the other hours I’m picking up I’m getting phone calls I’m adapting and maneuvering on other things that need to be executed on but what is important those four hours they get done they get done and that’s the difference between finishing writing a book and not finishing writing a book because you know when I write a book I write a thousand words a day it takes me about an hour yeah that’s what I do I read a thousand words a day and in 30 days you got thirty thousand words and in sixty days you got sixty thousand words and in 90 days you got 90 thousand words and that’s a book that’s three months and it took you an hour a day and that’s exactly what I did with the books that I’ve written and and it’s the same thing with physical fitness you don’t you don’t get in amazing shape in in you know this short amount of time but you get an amazing shape in a short amount of time day after day after day after day and that’s where discipline comes in on both those subjects waking up thing that’s pretty unpopular yeah no one likes that that’s okay keep sleeping in that’s fine you wake up earlier you have to go to bed earlier there are fun things that happen at 11:00 yeah and that is true and I you know I’m I’m uh I guess I’m I’m genetically what’s called a short sleeper and people have sent me all these articles about it because I don’t sleep a lot and and I’m not advocating because it’s unhealthy to not sleep enough you know and if you need eight hours go to bed earlier but you know and I’m not saying you need to wake up at four o’clock in the morning but I am saying this you know you know when you are guilty of wasting time and laying in bed and you’re being lazy you know it whether that was seven seven o’clock in the morning or six o’clock in the morning you know it and the other thing that we do is if you want to wake up early in the morning go to bed earlier well that’s real simple to say but it’s hard to do it’s it’s hard to do number one when you’re looking at your phone it’s hard to do when you’re staring at your computer screen it’s hard to do when you’re watching TV those things are meant there they’re designed to make you keep looking at them and so you do so what you need to do is turn those things off and try and go to bed now the first night you’re gonna have a hard time going to sleep what you do is the next morning you wake up early anyways that first night you only got five hours worth of sleep and now you’re tired throughout the day good because then when you get to bed that night you will turn off that computer you’ll be able to go to bed earlier like you wanted to so you have to start the cycle of waking up early by waking up early you can’t start the cycle by going to sleep early you know they’re clapping about it I like it you are making progress you’ve turned them you are a family man – does discipline play a role in making sure that you are being everything that you need to be for your wife and kids well again you have to carve out time for your family and you have to do another huge thing I talk about is balance right you have to have balance and if you get out of balance in one direction or the other and the classic example because I’ll have some people that say you know I’m just not spending enough time with my family and I’m working too much and so I’m just gonna focus on my family okay well let’s let’s follow that to the end what happens is you focus on your family and now you’re not performing well at your job and now maybe you’re not getting promoted and you’re not making more money or maybe you’re even getting fired or you’re not doing as well financially so you can’t provide the the financial security for your family which is actually gonna cause more stress and will impact negatively your family so if you focus too much on your family you’re actually doing them a disservice and I know that’s that’s hard to understand the same thing in the other direction hey I’m gonna take care of my family my family is my number one priority so I got to get forget them financially secure so I’m gonna focus on my work and focus on my work and focus on my work and we know what happens there so what you have to do is balance and if you get drawn too much to where you’re working all the time and you disregard your family you’re gonna lose your family and then if you go the other direction you’re focused on your job too much or you focus on your family too much you’re gonna lose your job and by the way you’re gonna end up losing your family anyways so you’ve got to find the balance you’ve got you’ve got a look at that every single day you gotta know when to shut off your phone and you know that’s hard one for all of us because we’re all expecting the big call become in of course is gonna come during dinner with my family so I have to look at my phone right now no there’s no one that’s calling you that you need to talk to you in the next 45 minutes while you’re sitting with your family it’s not gonna happen go recharge your phone our our time is running short here so I want to see if you can give people a sensory perspective of what it’s like to live with this much discipline to have to be structured to get up early to work your ass off in in in between what does it feel like what does it taste smell sound like to have this kind of discipline tastes like steak number one I’ll tell a quick story this is this is a little bit of a wake up call and I was I was on social media and I posted a picture of like my morning write a couple pictures of my morning and I like worked out in the morning and then I went surfing and I think I trained jiu-jitsu and I posted these pictures right and you know I said hey cool you know good good morning or something like that and I was reading some of the replies and and someone wrote must be nice and I was like dang you know that that cuz you know I didn’t have a lot of money growing up and I was in the military for 20 years you have a lot of money growing up you’re not running around doing whatever you want and I thought to myself I’m kind of a jerk kind of a jerk because Here I am posting these pictures I’m working out in the morning and I’m going surfing and I’m trying to jiu-jitsu with my friends and there’s some guy out there that’s probably been up at 6 o’clock in the morning I don’t care what his job is but he doesn’t like it I can tell that and he’s saying to me must be nice and and I actually thought to myself you know I’m I’m gonna back off from from posting those kind of pictures right because I’m rubbing into someone’s face and I’m not I’m not intending to do that at all and you know the afternoon or whatever came around and I went and kind of looked at some of the responses again and someone else had responded to that guy and he wrote discipline equals freedom and I said to myself yeah that’s what it is and when you see me and I’m surfing or I’m hanging out with my family or I’m training jiu-jitsu or I’m traveling and having a good time and enjoying my life you’re seeing the freedom part and what you have to remember and what everyone here should remember everyone here wants to enjoy their life to the maximum but if you want that kind of freedom it all starts with a discipline and I leave you with that thank you thank you very much Jocko Willink thanks everybody appreciate it

Jocko Willink knows a lot about discipline. He’s achieved things that required him to have a lot of it, such as commanding a Navy SEAL team during the Battle of Ramadi, leading training for all West Coast SEAL teams and launching Echelon Front as a leadership instructor, speaker and executive coach.

On the SUCCESS Live stage, he speaks with powerful conviction as Josh Ellis, editor in chief of SUCCESS magazine, makes an interesting point about something Willink strongly believes in: how discipline leads to freedom.

 

See also: Elevate Your Potential Magazine| Self Improvement Solutions at Elevate Christian Network

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Cee Harmon is founder of Elevate Christian Network and Elevate Your Potential Magazine. He enjoys helping people improve the quality of their lives - spirit, soul, and body.
 
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