Discipline Equals Freedom: 15 of the Best Jocko Willink Quotes to Keep You Pushing On

Jocko Willink is a former Navy SEAL and current podcaster and author. During his military service, he saw combat action during the war in Iraq and commanded the SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser. He retired from the military as a Lieutenant Commander. His military leadership and background afforded him the opportunity to speak and write about leadership and how his experiences can be translated into everyday life.  

Jocko is also the author of several books, including Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership. He also authored a children’s book, Way of the Warrior Kid, that aims at helping kids gain self-esteem and has received rave reviews. Jocko may be best known for his podcasts and his mantra, and book, Discipline Equals Freedom. It’s a powerful line that exemplifies everything he stands for.  

Here are our top 15 quotes from Jocko Willink that are sure to help inspire, drive, and push you past or to the next level in your own life. 


Discipline Equals Freedom 

Freedom is what everyone wants - to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline. 

In order to have and do the things you want, you must FIND A WAY within yourself to ACT on the required tasks. That might mean going to bed on time, waking up on time, or completing the task you know must get done. Discipline doesn’t always mean doing what’s fun. It means doing what is required. Once the task is completed, however, you’ll discover the freedom from the habits you forged through that discipline.

 discipline equals freedom

Go Out and Get it Done 

Don’t really want to workout? I work out. Don’t really want to hammer on the project? I hammer on the project. Don’t really want to get up and get out of bed? I GET UP AND GET OUT OF BED. 

We all have those days that drag us down. Those days where we struggle making it out of bed or out of the office. Either way, the necessary requirements of our lives are still waiting for us. Without the discipline already engrained in us, it’s easy to pull up and slow down. It’s easy to say we’ll do it tomorrow. By that time, a year will have passed, and you’ll be a lot more unhappy. The easiest solution is to go and DO IT. Get it down and KNOW you must. 



 Step aggressively towards your fear – that is the step into bravery. 

As Jordan Peterson describes fighting the dragon in it’s lair to obtain the gold, this quote mimics it perfectly. In order to face the things that you know you must face, you must step. Step forward and face the truth, face the chaos, and face the fear. When you face the things you know you must face, you will get stronger, and those fears will fade away.  


Discipline and Trust 

When individual members of the team are highly disciplined, they can be trusted and, therefore, allowed to operate with very little oversight.  

Whether you’re leading a team of many or just a few, having the right-minded individuals who have a high discipline tolerance allows for creation, innovation, and trust to happen. All parties know within the group that the project or mission will be completed. The group forms a tight bond and one that is highly compatible and highly motivated. 


Leaders are Readers 

I'm always reading the next book. Taking notes. Highlighting, researching, studying. It doesn't stop. 

It’s no secret that leaders are readers. But here, Jocko gives some insight into how he goes about it. Being an active reader helps you retain the information and knowledge. It can also aid you in your search for that information at a later point when you need to recall it. No matter what your method is, constant reading keeps you focused and disciplined. 

 discipline equals freedom

Get Better 

Didn't get promoted? Good. More time to get better. 

How many times have all experienced this? A promotion or an opportunity we thought we deserved or expected to receive. Only then, for us to find out we either didn’t receive or we were passed on. Not every opportunity is meant for right now. So instead of looking at the negative side of it, see how you can continue to grow and learn and be more prepared for the next opportunity. 


Keep Practicing 

The more you practice, the better you get, the more freedom you have to create. 

We will all go through rough patches. But with continued practice, you will find things, and situations that you go through in life will get easier. With that ease comes freedom. Freedom to experiences new things in life and work towards higher goals and achievements in life. It allows you to continue your pursuit into greatness. 


Get Out of Bed 

Getting out of bed is like the foundation of the discipline, and I think it carries over into everything else. 

For some, getting out of bed on a consistent basis is the hardest challenge of the day. This is where consistent discipline can really forge ahead for you in life. When you demand it of yourself to get out of bed, that is one task that you have decided to do. Then, as you go through the day, you can complete another small task. And another. Pretty soon, you will have completed a successful day; and it all started with getting out of bed. 

 discipline equals freedom

Find the Good in the Bad 

When things are going bad there’s going to be some good that comes from it. 

We all experience tough times. For some, those tough times expose our true character and our ability to respond to adversity. It can shape and mold us into different people. That could be good or bad, depending on the person and the situation. No matter the circumstance, it’s important that you find the good through any difficult or bad scenario. There’s always a little light that shines through the darkest of night. 


What’s Your Vision? 

Unless you do the work, the world will never see your vision. 

You can’t wait for someone else to do it or to complete the task. The goals and ambitions can only be accomplished by one person: YOU. Therefore, you must do the work. You will get knocked down along the way and you will lose. But through consistent persistence, you will come out on top and your vision needs to be the guiding force. Any vision that is of a true mindset will be able to withstand the forces of negativity and evil.  


Motivation Won’t Last 

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. 

I’ve said this before in our own Morning Lifter Podcast and written about it. I’ve described motivation as a way to get you started. It won’t keep you going as it’s something that will wane. Discipline and determination is what keeps someone going. That’s the “it” factor that drives an individual farther and keeps them committed to the process. Motivation gets you started. Discipline keeps you going. 


Start Moving and Get Started 

Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it. 

When your gut is telling you to get going but your mind is reminding you of all the others before about a failure, it’s time to make a move. You can have all the information in the world, but if you don’t decide to start on what your passionate about or what your dreams are, it will never happen for you. You are either going to get started and make a difference, or you won’t. It’s time to start. That time is now. GO. 

 discipline equals freedom

Prove You’re the Best 

A leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove. 

When you’re at the leadership position, others around you will undoubtably be waiting for your failure. That gives them an opportunity to mock and second-guess your decisions. As the leader, you need to know you are constantly working to prove to others, consistently, that you are the one for the role or job. This further convinces the ones who follow you that you are a leader who cares about the others around and will do what it takes to complete the task the right way. 


Get it Done 

Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done. 

Are you always finding excuses? Those excuses are validation that you are not accepting the ownership of the problems you face. If you are in a leadership position, it’s imperative to accept the responsibility. As Simon Sinek discusses, if you are going to accept the credit, you must also accept all of the responsibility. In order to do that, finger-pointing and blaming never success. Instead, roll up your sleeves and pound out a solution. 

 discipline equals freedom

Lead and Follow 

A leader must lead but also be ready to follow. 

Leaders will not always have the best answer to every problem. When another person has a better solution, it’s their opportunity to take the lead. Good leaders empower the people around them and find ways to grow others around them. It also means having the humility to follow when a better plan is in place. That doesn’t mean you aren’t the leader anymore. In fact, it will further solidify your place as the leader because it shows your willingness to let others take the lead when the best solution is found. 


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