Maybe you haven’t heard of Jocko Willink, but there is a good chance you wouldn’t want to make enemies with him.
Having spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy–with time spent commanding Task Unit Bruiser at SEAL Team 3–Willink intimidates not only with his extensive military career, but also physically. He is the recipient of the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has been known to tap out 20 Navy SEALs per workout. On top of all that, Willink is also a business founder and bestselling author of the book, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual.
Tim Ferriss, renowned author and podcast host, says, “His eyes look through you more than at you.” How’s that for an introduction?
No doubt, with all of this expertise in business, sport, and combat, it would be natural to assume that Willink must be incredibly motivated, right? Actually, he would beg to differ, as he says, “Don’t count on motivation; count on discipline.”
Those of us who want to start new projects, wake up early to go to the gym, or even do simple things like schedule a dentist appointment find it difficult to complete, much less start, these tasks. Our reasoning? We don’t feel like doing the work, and do not have the motivation we think is needed. Luckily, motivation may not be necessary at all, and can be highly overrated. In fact, look to the idea of obtaining self-discipline instead.
In an interview with Ferriss, Willink addresses what extreme discipline means for those involved in creative pursuits specifically:
“I would venture to guess that the biggest reason creative types don’t produce isn’t because they don’t have vision…or talent…in most cases, it’s a lack of discipline.”
No, that does not mean you have to wake up at 4 a.m. to hone your craft. However, according to Willink, this still does not mean we get to oversleep–we must prioritize practicing, as we live in a world where cultivated discipline lasts longer than fickle motivation.
“The more you practice,” he says, “the better you get, the more freedom you have to create.” Discipline in any area of your life will increase your skills, productivity, and, he reveals, will “set you free.”
Don’t feel like exercising? Don’t feel like starting that business proposal? Trust an expert U.S. Navy SEAL, and remember that your lack of motivation truly does not matter. “You do it anyways,” Willink says. “You grit down.”