[January 4, 2022] This sounds like advice from my maternal grandmother, Bigmama (yes, that is what we really called her). She was keen on her grandkids not doing stupid stuff (see her advice here and here). Likewise, Jocko Willink, retired U.S. Navy SEAL, tells us the same thing; adopt discipline and stop doing stupid things.
Sounds easy. Well, no, it is tough because those stupid things we are attracted to and addicted to making us weak. Here are some of Willink’s words to help motivate.1
“When you are in the military, you have this discipline, and beyond that discipline that’s imposed on you, you also have to just hold the line yourself. I mean, when you’re in the military, sure you go through boot camp where there’s a drill instructor yelling, but once you’re in the military, you’re doing what you have to do; it’s self-discipline.”
I often write about the importance of self-discipline. Willink tells us that discipline is more than just doing the right thing; but it means having a mission, a goal of some kind that is important for you to achieve. You must have something to aim out, or you are aimless in life, and that is not acceptable because life only exists by adopting responsibility.
“That you learn and you become self-disciplined and what happens is, guys get out and that’s gone and that hurts them and the other thing that hurts them is they don’t know what their mission is anymore and my big thing with people that I’ve been telling vets now is find what your next mission is. Go find whatever your next mission is, but it has to be something. When people are not going anywhere, they’re failing. When they don’t have the drive, it’s because they’re not accepting responsibility for anything. You need to be responsible for something.”
Self-discipline has many meanings. Willink can put it into perspective in simple terms. That is the reason I’m quoting him extensively in this article. Too many people think that “discipline” is an undefined, amorphous concept that is a rigidity, a straightjacket that destroys the individual. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Discipline starts with waking up early. It really does. You absolutely have to apply it to things beyond waking up early. It is working out [physically] every day, making yourself stronger and faster and more flexible and healthier. It is eating the right foods to fuel your system correctly. It is disciplining your emotions so you can make good decisions. It is about having the discipline to control your ego, so it doesn’t get out of hand and control you. It is about treating people the way you would want to be treated. It is about doing the tasks you don’t want to do, but you know will help you. Discipline is about facing your fears, so you can conquer them. Discipline means taking the hard road. The uphill road. To do what is right for you and for others. Hold the line for your health and mental toughness and exercise your will.”
Discipline means stop doing stupid things, adopt a mission, aim for it, and grab hold of responsibility. That is the only way to a life worth living.
Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).