Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

by Jocko Willink

In this updated and expanded edition of the 2017 New York Times bestseller Discipline Equals Freedom, you will learn new ways to become stronger, smarter, and healthier. It consists of strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear and attaining a healthier lifestyle. By imposing the mental and physical disciplines in this book, you’ll achieve freedom in all aspects of your life. 

Summary Notes

Improving Your Life

“Discipline can seem like your worst enemy. But in reality, it is your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.”

To improve your life and make progress toward your goals, you need to adopt the following practices:

  • Overcome procrastination: Your idea isn’t going to execute itself - so stop thinking, researching it, and dreaming about it; instead, go after it here and now.
  • Be in control: To control your mind, you must decide that those thoughts of frustration and negativity don’t get a vote. You are going to do what you want to do.
  • Use stress to improve your life: If your stress is something that you can control and you are not doing it, that is a lack of discipline and a lack of ownership. You must deal with it now. If the stress is something you can’t control: ask yourself, “How can I look at this from a different angle and use it to become a better person?”
  • Question everything: We can all do better; ask yourself the hard questions about what you are doing with your life and how you can improve your efforts and help more people. Eventually, your path will reveal itself.
  • Apply discipline: Discipline means taking the hard road, doing what is right for you and others, and not taking the easy path and giving in to short-term gratification.
  • Be disciplined even when you do not feel like doing the work: Go through the motions and see how you feel tomorrow - taking a day off is the one thing you need to put off until tomorrow. Today, keep on the path, the routine, the discipline.

Actions to take

Overcoming Adversity

“No matter what is happening—no matter how hard the fight is. As long as you keep fighting—you win. Only surrender is defeat.”

Facing adversities is an inevitable part of your life journey. Here’s what you can do to deal with them:

  • Overcome your weaknesses: Use everything you’ve got to overcome your shortfalls and flaws. Some days you will win, some days, you will lose, but strive to be just a little bit better today than you were yesterday.
  • Turn your problems into ‘Good’: When something is wrong, don’t get frustrated; instead, take that issue and use it to gain experience that will increase your skills.
  • Stand tall when bad things happen: This is the time to step up and face the issue with courage, to be the one who can handle the tough times and lead those around you.
  • Let adversity make you a better person: Line up those problems, struggles, and challenges and confront them. Let them raise you up to be a more capable and resilient person.
  • Fight the instinct to give up: “You did the best you could…” is your ego giving you an easy way out. Ignore it and use sound judgment to decide whether to change tactics. Make that your fundamental reaction to adversity.
  • Live life to the fullest: Those we have lost have taught us how precious life is and how blessed we are to wake up every morning. So embrace everything life offers and live with purpose and passion.

Actions to take

Achieving Success

“Go down swinging. And I’ll tell you: If you fight with all you have, more often than not, you won’t go down at all. You will win.”

We all have goals we want to achieve in life. To succeed, we must adhere to the following practices:

  • Focus on the goal: We may lose focus and stop the daily tasks and disciplines that will allow us to achieve our long-term goals. We begin to rationalize: “Maybe I can’t.” “Maybe I don’t really want to.” To prevent this, do something daily that moves you toward that goal. Make sure to keep it in front of your mind.
  • Learn to make progress: We make many mistakes, but the most important thing to learn is that we can all improve. We can only learn from school, people, and experience if we are open to processing new information.
  • Stay motivated: Every day is a new beginning, and although you may get knocked down and have some bad days, do not make excuses and stop. Through determination, will, and unwavering discipline, you will become what you want to be.
  • Reach maximum potential: It takes both fierce emotion and concrete logic to really give it your all and push beyond your limits. Both have their limitations and when one fails, you need to turn to the other.
  • Go the extra mile: Every day, and especially when you face a challenge, remember you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by fighting with everything you’ve got until your last breath. Only then can you rest easy.
  • Become default aggressive: Aggression is an internal character trait – the drive, the fire in your mind that says: I am going to win. Use it to move fast and create or control situations (rather than simply responding to them) as much as you can.

Actions to take

Dealing With People

“You may have to challenge statements that might be damaging to the team or the mission. And when you do have to engage, do it professionally.”

When working with other people, sometimes we must compromise. We must find common ground between teams, merge different approaches, and reach agreements in courses of action.  But what do you do about the negative person talking behind your back and trying to bring you down? 

Sure, you can confront them and join them in their little game by giving them the satisfaction of knowing that they got in your head and turned your life into a grade school gossip hall. But there’s a better way to deal with them: Ignore and outperform. 

While they are over there watching and talking about you—you are working hard, and you will win. This especially applies to situations when people are playing office politics, forming cliques, or working on their personal agendas. 

Unfortunately, there are times you must engage with people like this - when you need to set the record straight. Then you must communicate clearly and directly, and professionally with language that aims to deal with and stifle the situation.

Actions to take

Improving Your Overall Health and Staying Safe

“If you are confronted by another person or a group of people, the best thing you can do is run away: avoid the conflict.”

Having a healthy lifestyle is important. It will help you perform at your best and boost your mood. Here are the different ways you can practice to improve your overall health and feel secure: 

  • Avoid eating sugar-coated lies: Although those donuts are tempting, with their colorful sprinkles and cream filling and glorious glaze, that junk isn’t food, it literally kills you. You don’t need that kind of poison, so stop eating it now.
  • Stick with a Paleolithic Diet: Our bodies perform best with this diet. This includes eating beef (preferably grass-fed), poultry (preferably free-range), fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fungi, roots, some dairy (full-fat butter, cream, yogurt, cheese), and limited fruit. Eliminate processed foods, grains, and potatoes, causing insulin levels to spike.
  • Perform stretching and warm-up: Stretch every day for 10 to 15 minutes to improve range of motion and prevent injuries. Include the kneeling hip flexor stretch, swimmer stretch, Cossack stretch, hip external rotation stretch, reverse sleeper stretch, couch stretch, downward dog, cow face pose, or any stretching routine which works best for you. Before you start your workout, your warmup should include doing exercises slowly and through the entire range of motion.
  • Have physical training: Commit to exercising every day by having a gym in your home. For an initial setup, install a pull-up bar, some gymnastic rings, a squat rack (which should include a dip bar attachment), a barbell with bumper plates, and weights; these are all you need for exceptional fitness.
  • Train in martial arts: Start with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, then study boxing, wrestling, and Muay Thai. Beyond self-defense, the benefits of martial arts training include physical conditioning and mental toughness. Choose a martial arts center that is convenient, engaging, friendly, and fun.
  • Get enough sleep: Failure to get enough sleep has serious physical and mental side effects. Physical side effects include negative impacts on hormones, blood pressure,  the immune system, less muscle mass, and weaker bones. Mentally, the ability to pay attention, concentrate, problem solve, and reason diminishes.

Actions to take

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