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Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

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Jocko Willink's methods for success were born in the SEAL Teams, where he spent most of his adult life, enlisting after high school and rising through the ranks to become the commander of the most highly decorated special operations unit of the war in Iraq. In Discipline Equals Freedom, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Extreme Ownership describes how he lives that mantra: the mental and physical disciplines he imposes on himself in order to achieve freedom in all aspects of life. Many books offer advice on how to overcome obstacles and reach your goals—but that advice often misses the most critical ingredient: discipline. Without discipline, there will be no real progress. Discipline Equals Freedom covers it all, including strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear, and specific physical training presented in workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes, and even the best sleep habits and food intake recommended to optimize performance.

Within these pages discover the keys to becoming stronger, smarter, faster, and healthier. There is only one way to achieve true freedom: The Way of Discipline. Read this book and find The Way.

169 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2017

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Jocko Willink

55 books2,453 followers

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5 stars
6,208 (43%)
4 stars
4,320 (30%)
3 stars
2,430 (17%)
2 stars
800 (5%)
1 star
369 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,063 reviews
152 reviews13 followers
December 2, 2021
This is harmful nonsense for one very simple reason: an amount is not an approach.

Leave aside the many aesthetic failings (the black pages with white text, the self-parodically terse phrasing, the meathead vacuity) and look only at the ideas. What do we have?

"Work hard"

"Hard" is not what to do, it's how much you do. It is not a prescription, it's a dosage. He says again and again that the secret to success is early mornings and late nights, that the way to be tougher is "BE TOUGHER". That is not useful information.

Worse than that, it creates a false model of the world in which the only thing that matters is how many hours you threw at a problem, how white your knuckles got, how deep your brow furrowed. If you succeeded: great, you spent enough time. If you failed? Guess you were weak, loser.
Profile Image for Stephen Heiner.
Author 2 books45 followers
December 22, 2017
I had originally thought to go with 3.5, but that's not possible on Goodreads, and so I rounded down.

This can also be entitled "Intro to Jocko's philosophy." The problem is, if you have even listened to a handful of his podcasts, you've got the whole book, so for those who "get" and "like" Jocko, as I do, this book is not valuable. It's valuable to give as a gift to others who have never heard of Jocko, especially if those people are struggling with execution, as Jocko relentlessly strips away excuses through his short 2-3 page "essays."

To get a good sense of whether the book is for you, my favorite chapter is also my favorite content from Jocko ever, and it is entitled "Good." (pages 58-60) You can watch him read it here:


The book itself is printed in an innovative way - black pages and white ink. There's also an appendix to get you started with working out without complicated machines. Stuff you can do in hotel rooms.

"Go through the motions. Lift the weights. Sprint the hill. Work on the project. GET OUT OF BED. I don't like procrastination. But if you feel like you need a break - that is one thing you should procrastinate." (p. 49)

"Every day is a Monday." (p. 64)

"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." (p. 72)

"Fasting will recalibrate what hunger is to you. You will realize that you aren't actually hungry most of the time. You are just bored. And at the end of a fast your food will taste better too.
Profile Image for Jewelianne.
115 reviews10 followers
December 17, 2017
Okay, hear me out. On the one hand, I read this book after midnight while eating licorice. The next day (which I had off of work), I slept until 11. So that's kind of EXACTLY the opposite of what the author is advocating for people to do in their lives. But maybe that is why I need this book. I feel like I'm pretty good at not being in denial about all my many shortcomings and bad habits. The thing I like about this book is that there is no room for the denial. At times it is a bit repetitive, but the author's main point is if you want to do something, then you should do it. The end. Don't waste time on all the planning, fear, perfection, etc. And don't make compromises and excuses with yourself. In general, I feel like this is my philosophy too. Any time I have accomplished something difficult (impossible!) it finally happened when I got out of my own way and quit making excuses. Weight loss (or in this case, more like health and exercise in general) are probably no different.

I also really like what the author says about self-discipline having to come from within. That is entirely true also. As much as you SAY you want to do something, you would do it already if you really wanted to. None of the pills, or medications, or programs or anything else are going to help you to achieve your goals if you aren't really committed to it internally. But even if you aren't at that point yet, I think it's good to read books like this. The more you expose yourself to people and ideas that you wish to emulate, the more you will realize it is possible. And hopefully that will cause the internal motivation to click on a little sooner (like you know, before your genetically likely diabetes sets in...)

The only thing I kind of don't like about this book is how the author applies this theory to pretty much all aspects of life. He does say to learn from mistakes and failures, and use that as a learning opportunity, which I agree with completely. But I do think there are SOME things that are impossible. For example, there are always going to be poor people, and poverty is not a moral failure or a character flaw. Some poor people can rise above their station, but not all of them. Of course he doesn't say anything about poverty, so maybe I am being unfair on this point. But I think that while his philosophy can absolutely apply to many people and situations (specifically of course health and exercise for otherwise healthy people), it is too simplistic for others.
Profile Image for Gina.
9 reviews
February 24, 2018
About as useful as a drill sergeant yelling at you for 30 minutes. Black pages, large gimmicky font with weird offset that looks like Instagram meme material, not much content other than a hefty dose of tough love. The gist of the entire book:” shut up, don’t complain, just do it!” There, I just saved you from reading the thing.
14 reviews2 followers
October 20, 2017
If you follow Jocko, you have heard it all before. I was intrigued by his workouts that range from beginner to advanced, I am excited to start those. I could hear his voice as I read the book. Read it in an hour. Consider it Jockos version of Ray Dalios Principles.
Profile Image for David Chabot.
313 reviews8 followers
January 11, 2019
Okay, so I've read Extreme ownership and loved every word in it. Willink is obviously some kind of superhuman and I respect the guy a lot.


This book couldn't be more boring. It felt like reading the transcript from a motivational youtube video. I expected so much more from the author, such as real life example, thorough explanation of his thought process, even philosophy.

In the end, it's just a mind numbing repetition of a few keywords mixed with ''You can do it if you set your mind onto it'' type of chapters.

It's actually sad, because Jocko Willink has a LOT to teach and I was first in line to listen.
Profile Image for David.
Author 1 book86 followers
September 19, 2018
I agree with a lot of Jocko's advice. It might even bear repeating. And repeating. AND REPEATING IN ALL CAPS.

In my own words, the core principles found in Discipline Equals Freedom that I agree with are:

* Doing things is the cure for procrastination
* Master yourself, don't worry about people or situations outside your control
* Have long-term goals and move towards them in a meaningful way
* If you can't do what you planned (illness, injury), do what you can, even if it's just a little bit; keep the momentum going
* Don't wait for motivation
* Sugar is the devil (and a person weakness of mine)
* Humans don't have to eat constantly (fasting is natural)

In my own personal improvement journey I've experienced each of these things. I agree with them. I believe in them.

So why the low star rating? First, as other reviewers have noted, there is very little content in this book.

Second, I don't think Jocko makes a very convincing case for his principles. If you're not already convinced, I don't see how this text will convince you. If you are already convinced, this is little more than a pep talk.

And third, the section titled "Psychological Edge" demonstrates several serious misunderstandings of the science of willpower.

"Now, some scientists have claimed that discipline dissipates the more it is used -- that willpower is a finite resource that is reduced every time it is used during the day."

Right, that's what I've read and it certainly reflects my experience.

"This is wrong. That does not happen."

Take that, science!

Okay, Jocko. So how does it work?

"To the contrary, I believe, and studies have shown, that discipline and willpower do not go down as they are called into action -- they actually get stronger."

Funny, I've read that too...by the same scientists! How could this be!?

Because in the second case, they're talking about the strengthening of willpower (by exercising it) over the course of many days. It's just like a muscle, Jocko. You can wear out a muscle in the course of a day, but strengthen it over the course of many days. Same thing. The scientists are saying that willpower is like a muscle.

"This is obvious if you actually try the experiment yourself: Before you go to bed...Stage your workout clothes so you don't even have to think when you get up."

Oh, for Pete's sake! That works because you're not depleting your willpower in the morning - you've already made the decision the night before. The fact that the "experiment" works literally demonstrates the point about depleting willpower: you get the stuff ready at night because you know it would be harder to make the decision to get on your gear and go workout in the morning.

Furthermore, I don't think Jocko demonstrates that he understands the role in which habit plays in his morning workout ritual. At this point, I doubt it requires much if any willpower for Jocko to wake up early and workout. It's a deeply ingrained habit. Of course he has to maintain the habit, and that does require discipline, but it's not a decision he has to make each morning any more - it's as automatic for him as brushing our teeth is for the rest of us.

The willpower thing rubbed me the wrong way.

I'll end with this: I think this book would have been far stronger if it had included some anecdotes and examples to reinforce the principles. Surely Jocko has some stories from his own life or inspiring people he's known whose lives illustrate his message? I would have liked to have read that sort of material -- and as an added bonus, they would have helped with the word count!
Profile Image for Jason Crawford.
28 reviews6 followers
January 24, 2018
I am a person who gets enjoyment from reading, studying, and working my mind. The danger in this is that many times I don't "do". I don't take action on what I learn.

"Discipline Equals Freedom" is a shot of motivation right into the veins. Nothing in this short book is anything ground breaking or new, but it is said in a way to make you want to attack your day with purpose and self discipline.

If you enjoyed "The War of Art" then you will love "Discipline Equals Freedom". If you haven't read either then stop what you are doing and read them now. You will look for the challenges in your life so you will have something to attack and slay.

Do the work! Do!
Profile Image for Benjamin Uke.
221 reviews35 followers
December 4, 2017

Written by an alleged navy seal wrote out a simple formula for self improvement in a series of white typewriter lettering vomited upon black paper. Full of proclaimed techniques of mastery with no scientific backing or ideas but that of artistic bold block-text that belongs on spray painted on the wall of a gym.

I get that exercise and well being are a mindset, I get that. However there is a lack of underlying scientific knowledge that makes it insincere and full of empty bravado. It's not a 1/5 on account of having one or two useful standard operating procedures (SOPs) that would in fact build some form of discipline. But expecting over thirty dollars for a book, that has around five-pages of writing fully compressed? That's just pretentious.

Profile Image for Luke.
28 reviews11 followers
August 22, 2018
This book is terrible. Only 2 concrete steps to follow can be distilled from the entire book: get up early and don't eat junk food (also, some of the suggested workout routines in the Appendix do seem useful.) The rest essentially amounts to a book-form elaboration of Shia LeBeouf's viral "JUST DO IT" Youtube video; a collection of motivational catch-phrases. Some choice bolded quotes from the book: "GET AFTER IT.", "BE RELENTLESS.", "GET UP. GO. FIGHT ON.", "HESITATION IS THE ENEMY.", "ACCOMPLISH."

No insights are offered in how to stay motivated or how to achieve self discipline. In comparison to Jocko, I am lacking in these areas, and I could have written this book. Jocko's keen insight into how to be disciplined is to BE DISCIPLINED.

Thankfully, it is a very short book, and you can skip and skim without missing much. You can read it in less than an hour.
Profile Image for Denis Vasilev.
630 reviews92 followers
June 8, 2020
Книга мантра, я не поклонник такого стиля. Психология, бизнес, единоборства, спорт, еда. В конце сборник упражнений. В целом похоже на то, как на вас должен кричать сержант в армии
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,184 reviews1,064 followers
April 10, 2018
I got this from the library for the home-based fitness routine, but I actually really liked the whole thing. I wish there had been a section on pull exercises for absolute beginners. The "easy" option of doing a negative repetition is beyond me. I cannot hold my weight up with my chin over the bar if I stand on a box. I cannot even suspend my own weight hanging. I have nil pull strength. I cannot be the only human who is starting from absolute zero. Also, I weigh only half a pound less than the max weight for any pull-up bar I could find: I seriously don't trust them to hold me. It would have been great if Willink just had, like, one paragraph on some alternative exercises. At least I found options online. Still an awesome book, enough I'm considering buying a copy when this has to go back.
10 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2022

This book is exactly what the author himself critises in the first few pages: generic self help with no real substance.

That's not to say that I disagree with Willink's lifestyle or ideas. Quite the opposite is true. It's just that everything here has been said countless times before.

Willink barely covers his time as a SEAL. Why couldn't we hear more about this, and how he applied his principles in those situations. Instead, we get a trite motivational speech for 150 pages.

Part two was slightly better. Willink actually shares some useful knowledge and advice about martial arts here.
Profile Image for Eli Nichols.
24 reviews
May 3, 2022
This book was like poring through a precocious high schooler’s journal. Throughout the book, I dipped between rolling my eyes, taking notes, reading sentences in a South Park voice, and actually being inspired.

Jocko is obsessed. What is he obsessed with? A prose style. Sentence fragments. Strung together. He loves it. Why? Because short sentences fill the page. Every sentence feels lean. Mission critical. It adds gravitas. To uninspired ideas.

It’s like Hatchet mixed with Hemingway, and it’s really exhausting. The most interesting parts of the book were when he shared in-depth knowledge about what he’s clearly an expert in: strength training, physical fitness, diet, martial arts. The rest of the book comes across as a series of half-baked platitudes. But in the end, the idea is so simple and true that these shortcomings don’t really detract it from its goal. This book is a swift kick in the pants, and a welcome reminder to the reader to “Just Do It.” I’ll probably never read it again, but I’ll keep it on my bookshelf so I can see it as I walk by and be reminded of that elementary, easily forgettable truth.
Profile Image for Henrik Haapala.
507 reviews86 followers
May 31, 2021
2021-05-24 update:

“People look for the shortcut. The hack.
And if you came here looking for that:
You won’t find it.

There is only hard work, late nights, early mornings, practice, rehearsal, repetition, study, sweat, blood, toil, frustration, and discipline. DISCIPLINE.

2021-05-31 update:

“Discipline: the root of all good qualities. The driver of daily execution. The core principle that overcomes laziness and lethargy and excuses. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that say: not today, not now, I need a rest, I will do it tomorrow.”

“When people think of the words ‘mind control’, they think of people controlling the minds of other people. Not me. I think about controlling my own mind.”

One sentence summary:

The book talks about discipline, mind control, training and preparing to fight.
Profile Image for Ashley.
487 reviews219 followers
April 17, 2021
This book won’t be for most people, as evidenced by the negative reviews, but I ate up every word. I desire to cultivate my own mental toughness and the discipline I know I can have. I love working hard, pushing myself, and this book is the perfect dose of motivation to help bring the reason why back to the forefront of my mind.

No excuses. No laziness. No weakness. Just a hard dose of “Get After It.” 👍🏻
Profile Image for Lakhan.
63 reviews3 followers
February 15, 2021
Good motivational book from JOCKO. Gave a decent background on his beliefs; how to stay healthy, and becoming relentless with training. Make the choice and get disciplined with no excuses! 'DO IT'
Profile Image for Carles Caño.
Author 48 books58 followers
December 6, 2020
Leí este libro por primera vez el verano de 2018. Entonces me flipé con él y le puse cinco estrellas.

El libro me lo recomendó Marc Alier, amigo con el que hacíamos zetatesters, podcast de desarrollo personal en plan cachondeo. Digamos que Marc me lo vendió muy bien y eso me condicionó.

Dos años más tarde lo he releído para grabar otro episodio comentando el libro, ahora con Rick Téllez, otro flipado de Jocko Willink.

La segunda lectura no me ha gustado tanto por eso le bajo mi valoración a tres estrellas.

Creo que Willink tiene un discurso simplista con unos mensajes que son muy fáciles de decir, pero complicados de seguir. Me recuerda al discurso "Si lo quieres de verdad, lo haces y punto".

No siempre es tan fácil. Hay más factores que lo que uno desea para lograr sus propósitos: tu identidad, tus valores, tu educación y sobre todo, tu entorno (familiar, cultural), que te puede condicionar muchísimo.

Un ejemplo:

"Los seres humanos pueden soportar un estrés casi inconcebible, y tú también puedes."

Esta frase la pone después de citar a varios héroes de guerra de varios conflictos bélicos históricos. Mi pregunta, que Willink en ningún momento plantea, es: ¿Qué consecuencias tiene un estrés casi inconcebible?

En el caso de veteranos, hay muchos casos de transtornos por estrés postraumático (TEPT o PTSD en inglés). Ocurrió con veteranos de Vietnam y también con veteranos de Irak. Hubo muchos combatientes que luego tuvieron serios problemas cuando volvieron para adaptarse a la sociedad.

Cada vez me gustan menos estos discursos que lo que hacen es cargar de súper responsabilidad a tu consciencia para lograr tus propósitos. No lo dicen abiertamente, pero se deduce que "Si no lo logras, es porque no lo querías de verdad, mierdecilla". Eso crea sentimientos de culpa y acabas sintiéndote fatal por no lograr lo que te habías propuesto. Más que motivador, es desmotivador.

Es probable que este discurso le sirva a algunas personas. Seguramente sirve para un contexto militar. Pero en mi caso y creo que en el de muchas personas fuera de este ámbito, no resulta tan práctico.

Estoy de acuerdo en el QUÉ de Jocko Willink: la disciplina te da libertad, pero no estoy de acuerdo en el CÓMO: discurso simplista de "HAZLO AHORA Y NO PIENSES SOBRE ELLO". En realidad, tampoco te dice el CÓMO, ya que apenas te da estrategias prácticas.

Más que "El camino de la disciplina" yo creo en "El camino de los hábitos" o si quieres "El camino de los sistemas". En concreto, soy más de lo que predica James Clear y otros expertos en hábitos de lograr tus propósitos con hábitos pequeños y sostenidos en el tiempo. Sin estos discursos que machacan tu conciencia. Vas construyendo tu nueva identidad a medida que avanzas con tus hábitos atómicos. El problema de Willink es que intenta darte una identidad de Marine de ejército de Estados Unidos cuando tú no tienes nada de Marine. Te motiva al principio, y más con el vozarrón y el cuello de dos palmos que tiene el hombre, pero es una motivación que se disipa rápidamente al cabo de poco.

Con todo, hay cosas que sí me gustan del libro y que pueden resultar motivadoras o útiles, al menos para mí. Cuando habla de centrarse (focus), cuando le comunican cualquier problema y él siempre responde "Good" y ve una parte buena para hacer otra cosa de provecho. Hay tintes estoicos en la filosofía de Willink y eso me gusta. También están bien algunas de las cosas que comenta en la segunda parte del libro sobre alimentación, ejercicio físico o ayuno.
Profile Image for Sean.
44 reviews2 followers
November 4, 2020
Calling Discipline Equals Freedom a field manual is an apt title for a book that is direct, to the point, and leaves you feeling like you've just had a drill sergeant screaming in your face. I love Jocko's undeviating view on finding discipline from within, and providing practical no-nonsense advice that you can apply instantly in your life.

Are you struggling with your nutrition? He tells you exactly how to eat. You don't know what exercise to do? He provides example routines. Are you struggling with motivation to get up early and begin the day? No excuses, do it anyway.

My key takeaway from the book? No more excuses. No more listening to the weak lies your mind is telling you. Just get out there and do it.

I picked up Discipline Equals Freedom because I wanted a motivational book to help me begin to tackle some new challenges in my life, and this book has been worth it's weight in gold for showing me that willpower is not a finite resource, and to simply take the first step.
Profile Image for Tungstenmouse.
47 reviews21 followers
December 29, 2019
I think this would have been great if it didn’t require supplemental material. The meat is in the last 4th of the book. But, apparently there are lots of other things to go along with this like videos and a podcast. This book alone amounts to a version of the Nike slogan, “Just Do It”. So I would say look for the videos and podcasts but you can skip this book.
Profile Image for Ben.
188 reviews13 followers
November 4, 2020
Five stars for unintentional comedy. This was so different from all of the other self help books written by buddhists and people who sit in chairs. This guy commanded the highest decorated Navy SEAL team, that painted comic book skulls on their uniform and had the motto "NO MERCY". If you put this guy and Carl Rogers in a room, who would win?

I'm probably going to read this again, because while the writing style is comical ("GET UP. AND. GO"), I feel like it's worth getting over the aesthetic and trying to understand his mindset a bit better. Basically he's advocating extreme vigilance, and a ?completely? tyrannical top-down control structure of behavior that gets positive feedback from beating people. In a world where there are enemies, this seems legit. My question for myself, is, do I have enemies? What am I afraid of? Jocko would advocate highlighting that to extreme importance and being vigilant against behavior leading in that direction. It's also inspiring to look at self discipline as a thing which can be practiced, although I have a lot of personal skepticism about whether that is actually desirable for me at the moment.

Has some nice workouts and such.
Profile Image for Gemma Goldie.
5 reviews18 followers
July 8, 2021
Este libro es lo que pasa cuando alguien realmente se toma en serio el mantra "Fuck motivation, hello discipline".

Todo se resume en esta cita:

Despite fatigue and soreness.
Curse the warmth of the bed.
Curse the comfort of the pillow.
Fight the temptation of weakness.
Get up and go.
Do it quickly, without thought.
Do not reason with weakness. You cannot.
You must only take action.
Get up
and GO.

Estoy segura de que mis niveles de testosterona han subido mientras leía este libro. Y a veces no sabía si estaba leyendo un libro de poemas del Sargento de Hierro, o un speech motivacional de un gurú de Silicon Valley. Y sin embargo, es divertido y útil que de vez en cuando te recuerden lo más básico.
Profile Image for Arber Lajqi.
22 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2021
A very motivational and quotable book, felt the rawness of Jocko's mind, but had a few issues here and there, it is not as specific as required in some instances throughout the book, and the workout programming style in the appendix in my opinion is not fully optimized. But overall a very good read.
Profile Image for Kristin Boldon.
1,125 reviews27 followers
March 31, 2018
A short, powerful book about making short, powerful changes in your life. I am not the target market for this book; I'm not a hardcore fitness enthusiast. But there's something for everyone here, and the exhortations to cut the crap and hold the line are useful to me. I started getting up an hour earlier at the beginning of the year and now have a morning routine of yoga, meditation, writing, and reading before breakfast. That said, it's on the extreme side for emotional suppression and relentlessness.
8 reviews
October 21, 2017
A daily dose of motivation

Not a traditional book as the first section consists of one or two page chapters based on a singular motivational topic. But lovely and concise for the purpose of motivating and guiding people without boring them or overwhelming them. I'd recommend this to everyone but especially the sort of person who struggles to stick with a book because their mind wanders. I found Jocko's advice on point and reading a couple of pages is enough to turn my lazy negative mindset around. I aim to reread a couple of pages everyday to keep progressing mentally and, as a result of the motivation, physically in the right direction.

The book is more than simple motivation as it provides advice on training and diet as well with an appendix including training plans for a variety of exercise experience.

Highly recommended to anyone wanting to overcome laziness and underachievment. It's a not a book that will turn you into a world beater but it will make you want to become a better version of yourself!
Profile Image for Mirek Jasinski.
432 reviews13 followers
July 2, 2020
Grafomania na miarę Trumpa. Przeczytałem z obowiązku, ale równie dobrze mogłem sobie odpuścić. Każdy wie, że bez dyscypliny niewiele się uda osiągnąć. A tu rady jakby wykrzyczane przez sierżanta od musztry:
- "Ludzie pytają mnie jak być silniejszym?"
- "Bądź silniejszy!"
- "Jak mogę się obudzić wcześnie z rana?"
- "Obudź się wcześnie z rana!"
- "Jak mam ćwiczyć systematycznie każdego dnia?"
- "Ćwicz systematycznie każdego dnia!"
Itd. itp.

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