Discipline Equals Freedom

UPDATED: October 16, 2017
PUBLISHED: October 16, 2017


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.

You know what you have to do.


You do that with Discipline.


Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.

No. You have to do the work. You’ve got to hold the line. You’ve got to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

So. Dig in. Find the Discipline. Be the Discipline. ACCOMPLISH.

That’s it.


There are people in the world who have skills and strength and talent that I will never have. Never.

These notions that you can “be whatever you want to be as long as you want it bad enough” are not true. They are fairy tales.

We all have limitations. I don’t have the right genes to be an Olympic weightlifter. I don’t have the right genetics to be an Olympic sprinter. Or gymnast. Sure, if I trained my whole life, perhaps I could have become fairly decent in those sports.

But the best in the world? No. I simply do not have the DNA to be the best in the world in those categories.

But what does that mean? Does that mean I give up? Does that mean I quit? Of course not. Not at all.

It means that I am going to try to be the best that I can be. The strongest. The fastest. The smartest human being that I can become.

That is what I am going to go for. And it doesn’t matter that I will not be better than others when I compare myself to them. No, I will look at others who do achieve greatness in a category, and I will say: Look at what is possible. How close can I get to that greatness? How close can I get to that glory?

But my glory, it doesn’t happen in front of a crowd. It doesn’t happen in a stadium or on a stage. There are no medals handed out.

It happens in the darkness of the early morning. In solitude. Where I try. And I try. And I try again. With everything I have, to be the best that I can possibly be.

Better than I was yesterday. Better than people thought I could be. Better than I thought I could be. Faster and stronger and smarter.

And claim one victory that no one can ever take away from me. Ever. A victory that is earned every single day. A victory of determination and will and discipline.

A victory achieved because: I will not stop.


It wasn’t in a war. It wasn’t in a battle. It isn’t in a melee of fire and destruction that most of us succumb to weakness.

We are taken apart, slowly. Convinced to take an easier path. Enticed by comfort.

Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle. We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be.

It isn’t that you wake up one day and decide that’s it: I am going to be weak. No. It is a slow incremental process. It chips away at our will—it chips away at our discipline. We sleep in a little later. We miss a workout, then another. We start to eat what we shouldn’t eat and drink what we shouldn’t drink.


And, without realizing it—one day, you wake up and you have become something that you never would have allowed.

Instead of strong—you are weak. Instead of disciplined—you are disorganized and lost. Instead of moving forward and progressing—you are moving backward and decaying.

And those things happen without you seeing them. Without you recognizing them.

So. You have to BE VIGILANT. You have to be ON GUARD. You have to HOLD THE LINE on the seemingly insignificant little things—things that shouldn’t matter—but that do.


Fear is normal. Every person feels fear at some point.

What should you do? Step. Step. Take the step. Step aggressively toward your fear—that is the step into bravery.

We are scared of what we don’t know, and there is but one way to confront that fear: Step. GO.

And that simple action, this simple attitude answers so many questions.

How do you get to the gym every day? Step. GO.

How do you change your diet? Step. GO.

How do you overcome fear of failure or fear of success or fear of fear itself? Step. GO.

How do you face the fear of the unknown? Step. GO.

Don’t wait anymore. Don’t think anymore. Don’t plan anymore. Don’t contemplate anymore. Don’t make any more excuses or justifications. Don’t rationalize anything else.

No. No. NO. NO.

Instead: Be aggressive. Take action. Now.

And the first action you need to take? The first step you need to take? The first step you need to take is just that: Step.

Step. Go.



The sun doesn’t shine every day. The storms will come. There are times when the nights will be long and dark and you will be alone. There will be times when The Darkness seems to consume everything. But don’t let it consume you.

Don’t let it consume you. Even in the darkest times. Even in the strongest storms. Even when the sun is blotted out and the world is falling apart.

The Darkness cannot extinguish your light.

You. Your WILL. Your determination. No matter what is happening—no matter how hard the fight is. As long as you keep fighting—you win.

Only surrender is defeat. Only quitting is the end. Because The Darkness only wins if you let it.

Do not let The Darkness win.


Fight on.

To fight against The Darkness is to win.

Fight on.


From Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink. Copyright (c) 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.