“Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning.” – Jocko Willink¹
Jocko Willink (@JockoWillink) wakes up at 4:30 AM every day. Every day.
What is he doing this early in the morning mind you? Smashing weights. That’s right, this guy wakes at the butt-crack of dawn to throw heavy things around. What’s your excuse?
Alright, this is not meant to be a guilt trip. Granted, we could all wake earlier and be more productive with this precious time we have been given. Let Jocko be your inspiration.
This discipline that Jocko displays in the early morning hours carries throughout his day and actually provides more freedom in his life. “Discipline equals freedom,” is a favorite saying of his. A bit of an oxymoron, right?
When we typically think of freedom, we reminisce about our college days. Nothing on the schedule but a class or two, a part-time job, hanging out with friends, spring break, strong drinks, away from home and away from rules! No cop, no stop!
Jocko’s definition of freedom throws everything we associate with freedom out the window. It means sacrifice, hard work, performing the uncomfortable, and doing something when everything inside of you is saying “NO, stop this madness now.”
What he means is this: if you employ discipline in your life, such as waking early, you will have more freedom, time and opportunity, throughout your life.
If you are disciplined in your health and fitness regime, you will reap the benefits later in life and can enjoy the FREEDOM of being mobile and free from illness as you age.
If you are disciplined in your allocation of time and work, you will enjoy the FREEDOM to do whatever the hell you wish when the work is finished. Whether it’s the bar and booze, or faith and family is up to you. You’re FREE to choose.
If you’re disciplined with your finances in saving and investing, you will have the FREEDOM to enjoy your idea of “retirement.” Whether that’s quitting the 9-5 job, starting your own side hustle, globetrotting, or settling down, you will have the choice due to the discipline you exercised throughout your life.
Rules of Life
We cannot just muster the will to create discipline, however. It’s a virtue that takes strengthening, guiding, and practice.
Simply put, we need rules to govern our lives. Here is the good news, you have complete power over the laws you put into practice.
I have long kept a journal with all the rules I have created for myself. These rules strip temptation of their power and focus me on manifesting my full potential.
If a man does not live by laws, then what does he live by? You cannot always trust your thoughts and feelings. These are but fleeting, emotionally based, and often wrong.
If you knew the thoughts I have had since waking, you probably would not continue to read this. But you know the same applies to yourself, so continue…
To give you an idea of what these rules look like, I’ve listed rules that a few very successful and influential men have practiced: Benjamin Franklin, Coach John Wooden, and Dale Carnegie.
- Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
- Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
- Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
- Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
- Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity. Rarely use venery, but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Coach John Wooden
- Be true to yourself.
- Make each day your masterpiece.
- Help others.
- Drink deeply from good books.
- Make friendship a fine art.
- Build a shelter against a rainy day.
- Pray for guidance, and give thanks for your blessings every day.
- Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
- Give honest, sincere appreciation.
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
- Become genuinely interested in other people.
- Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
- Talk in terms of other person’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
Create Your Own Rules
Imagine the person you want to become. You already know this person. They have made frequent appearances throughout your life, but they seem to elude you in the long run. Quit making excuses and make some rules for yourself. It’s time to manifest your full potential.
The above rules give you a premise and example of how some of the greats structured their life. Coach Wooden carried his principles on a piece of paper in his billfold all his days. These were gifted to him by his father at 7 years old, and they treated him well.
Others came to their principles through study, trial and error, and life’s brutal propensity. Benjamin Franklin discovered his after decades of studying people, religion, biology, business, and relationships.
Each of these rules/principles provided an identity to these giants of their time. We underestimate the power of identity and fail to recognize its implications in cultivating the person we want to be, and the one the world needs us to be. Without a clear picture of your own identity, you will never reach your full potential in life. Period.
What’s your story? We may not be as gifted as Benjamin Franklin, or as lucky as Coach Wooden to have a forward-thinking father or have the discipline of a SEAL like Jocko. However, we’ve all had life experiences that guide us down a path. What did you learn from each of these experiences?
You have rules and principles that govern your life. You just have to dig deep and unearth them in order to be conscious of them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when formulating rules for your life:
- How do I want to be treated by people? That’s how you should treat others.
- Where do I look for inspiration and guidance in my life?
- What are my views on substances like alcohol, tobacco, and even food groups that tempt me?
- What is my relationship with money? What do I want it to be? How do I view it in my life?
- Are there any habits that I swear by? Journaling, reading, meditating? Write them into a routine.
- When have I said in my life, “NEVER AGAIN will I do ______,”?
- How do you view work? How have your past experiences played into this? What is your definition of work?
- Are there any behavioral pet peeves you dislike in others?
- What behaviors have hurt or hindered you the most in your life?
- How do you want to treat your physical body; your physical vessel in this life?
- What habits provide you with mental, emotional, and physical clarity and well-being?
Chances are, you already have various principles in your head as you are reading this. You already live by them but have never put them into words. This is a powerful tool that will serve you well.
Break your rules into categories: spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, and mentally.
Rules can be vague and broad, or very specific such as “I will not have more than two drinks when out with friends.” Personally, I created 10 over-arching rules that govern my life and behavior that tackle the questions above, and fall into the categories mentioned. Then the more precise, detail-oriented rules fall into subcategories.
I’ve provided my 10 over-arching rules below for reference. Do not be hesitant to put rules on yourself. You will not regret it.
Remember, “discipline equals freedom.”
- Give God absolute authority over every area of your life, every day
- Make hard work your best friend
- Complain little and compliment often
- Choose to give rather than receive
- Practice discipline, prudence, and gratefulness for yourself
- Practice respect, humility, and love for others
- Rise early
- Keep your commitments, even when it hurts to do so
- Follow the 5 Laws of Gold
- Practice modesty with substances but in life, modesty is for cowards. Go after your desires with no remorse
1. “Discipline Starts Every Day When the First Alarm Clock … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/discipline-starts-every-day-when-the-first-alarm-clock-174