Discipline Equals Freedom — Jocko Willink (#275)

Jocko and Tim cropped - IMG_4244_JPG__3_documents__3_total_pages_

“Your will doesn’t break. It never shows up in the first place.” Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) takes over the show for a special episode. As I learned during our first interview, he is one of the scariest human beings imaginable.

In this episode, Jocko shares lessons from his new book Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual. Trust me, it’s fantastic. In this talk, he discusses:

  • The success mindset
  • How to stop laziness and procrastination
  • Behaviors that lead to failure
  • His exact workouts
  • How he adapts his training when he’s on the road
  • And much, much more

Jocko is a legend in the Special Operations world. His eyes look through you more than at you.

Jocko enlisted in the Navy after high school and spent 20 years in the SEAL Teams, first as an enlisted SEAL operator and then as a SEAL officer. During his second tour in Iraq, he led SEAL Task Unit Bruiser in the Battle of Ramadi–some of the toughest and sustained combat in the SEAL Teams since Vietnam.

Under his leadership, Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the entire war in Iraq and helped bring stability to Ramadi. Jocko was awarded the Bronze Star and a Silver Star.

Jocko is also the co-author of  Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win — which I loved. I hope you enjoy this episode!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Discipline Equals Freedom -- Jocko Willink

Want to hear another podcast episode with Jocko? — Listen to our first interview together. Jocko might be the scariest Navy SEAL alive, and this episode shares how he earned that reputation. Learn what he taught me (stream below or right-click here to download):

The Scariest Navy SEAL I've Ever Met...And What He Taught Me

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Jocko and his organizations on Twitter:

@Xtremeownership| @jockowillink| @echelonfront

  • Connect with Jocko and his organizations on Facebook:

Extreme Ownership| Jocko Willink| Echelon Front

Show Notes

  • Jocko introduces himself. [3:14]
  • How Jocko got started podcasting. [07:52]
  • You might be surprised to learn that Jocko is now a children’s book author — but his new book for grown-ups has just been published. [09:30]
  • Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual is divided into two sections: Thoughts and Actions. [11:50]
  • One example from the Thoughts section: How to stop laziness and procrastination. [12:13]
  • How to build discipline one morning at a time. [16:16]
  • What happens when we stray from the path of discipline. [17:31]
  • How to start getting up early in the morning. [18:52]
  • What do Jocko’s workouts look like? [20:42]
  • Pull. Push. Lift. Squat. Gut. [25:12]
  • How long do Jocko’s workouts last? [28:39]
  • Why Jocko changed his mind about doing curls. [34:39]
  • What an advanced push day workout looks like. [37:04]
  • What an advanced lift day workout looks like. [39:54]
  • What an advanced squat day workout looks like. [41:51]
  • Training on the road. [44:43]
  • What’s Jocko’s criteria for finding a good, local jiu-jitsu school/instructor? [55:51]
  • Traditional vs. non-traditional jiu-jutsu schools. [58:04]
  • The benefits of other martial arts and combat skills discussed in the book. [1:02:00]
  • Parting thoughts on discipline. [1:04:04]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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47 Replies to “Discipline Equals Freedom — Jocko Willink (#275)”

  1. Tim,

    Ok so after following you for many years I am leaving a contracting job to take a lower paying JROTC teaching job in a very urban school with many under served students. Thank you for showing me the direction to go with my second career.

    If you want to utilize me with your push to teach people to be great learners I am open to any of your podcasts, products, sponsors or networks that want to support my journey with advice and tools.

    Thanks for all you do and I will continue to listen to podcasts as the commute is 2 hours a day.


  2. Tim

    I am a senior high school student from china. Take the liberty of asking, in the six months , are you planing to learn Chinese?


  3. I know if I wanted to learn about freedom, I’d ask someone took direction & external support his entire life. Who knew success was living off of a gov. pension?

    1. We don’t live our lives in a vacuum. One of the recurrent lessons that many of those interviewed speak of is the people around them that enabled them to well.

      I was also in the military, and my path was very different than Jocko’s. I was lazy, I didn’t work out on my own time, I had multiple run-ins with my chain of command; in all I was a mediocre soldier. Jocko made very different decisions than I did, had a whole other level of commitment to his work and those around him, and the definition of discipline. His service is almost the antithesis of mine.

      No matter where you turn, no matter who you ask, you will find that all people take direction, all people have support. Those that don’t occupy the dregs of society either by choice or by circumstance.

      I think you need to do some self-reflection about why you are hostile towards Jocko. Why Jocko and not Tim? What aspects of Jocko’s personality make you upset? What would he have to change in order for you to respect him? Is that change reasonable?

  4. Nice one I totally agree that discipline equals freedom. For the last 3 years I have been getting up 4:56am and doing exercise. Now I have increased exercise to 60 min per day. The payoff is amazing in the way you feel and you do tend to eat better as well. I also liked his other book extreme ownership. Bottom line of leadership is self discipline without which success cannot last.

  5. In a podcast not too long ago, Tim (I believe) mentioned a book about automating a service business. It might have been about someone that did it with success?? (It’s kind of foggy, but I thought I remember something about this.) It was a quick mention. Anyway, anyone know the book or what I’m referring to? I’m trying to find it in an old podcast or show notes but can’t.

    1. Every time I hear a Tim Ferriss intro I think about your question. I just now found the answer: FreshBooks: Breaking the Time Barrier. Google it, it should be available for download from their website.

  6. Hi Tim,

    Enjoy your mini-vacation, this was a really good podcast episode. Felt like there were some sudden changes in Jocko’s intensity at times which felt a little strange, but anyway, he got his point across. Overall good information, both for people like myself, who mostly need to be reminded of what to do and even for people who find all this information new.


  7. Jocko as “stand-in” for Tim! Love it.

    Though, a funny opener would have been the sound of Jocko smashing down Tim’s recording set-up and hijacking the mike.

    Two things I really valued in the episode.

    1. Jocko shaking up and turning on end the zeitgeist that willpower tires, rather than strengthens – thank you Jocko. This too is a reminder that as with so much in areas of improvement, “it depends what works for you”. I’m on Jocko’s side, discipline is a super power that none of us should shirk from having the ability to switch on. Not least, I think that the ability to jump to disciplined routine, without too much emotionalizing around it, is a basis for sound mental health.

    2. the lengthy discussion on martial arts and why to start with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Learning a martial art has been something that I have always wanted to do and this helped me to understand why and where to take a first step.

    Jocko – great radio voice, great content and tempo in delivery and great “stand-in-ship” for El Ferriss. Thank you.

    Tim – like the hijack, stand-in episode format from within your tribe of mentors and masters! Tim – hope you are having a valuable time in retreat (Vipassana I am guessing) and look forward to hearing snippets of commentary on how it went for you.



  8. Jocko definitely needs to record his own audio book – I can’t think of anything more motivating than listening to him read me this riot act of a book for a few hours.

  9. I find it disturbing that no one even seems to care that this guy decided that he wanted to make his living by killing other people.

    In this other interview he said, the reason why he got up early every morning was that “he did not want to give his enemy this win”. I do not think a human that is driven by a “i have to kill my enemy”-mindset can be a good rolemodel.

    I accept that we can learn a lot by looking the discipline, someone has to bring up to reach the state Jocko is in. But to blank out the whole killing theme seems very dangerous to me.

    1. Well, this IS fundamentally written for an American audience. Remember Bill Hicks’ line : “I was for the war, just against the troops. Don’t get me wrong, I like the carnage – I’m American”. Something like that anyway. And if you look around this site, you’ll notice that Tim seems to have something of a yen for military types.

    2. according to Tim the most extreme kinetic encounter by the invading army ‘stabilised the region’. Wow Read a newspaper in the last, oh, 15 years?

      Further, someone with ‘eyes that look through you’ who is the ‘scariest human imaginable’ are not symptoms of extreme pathology but in fact virtues to be praised in the intro. Nice insulation from reality- wish I went to Princeton for such a luxurious outlook on life

  10. Hi,

    I hope this is the right place for this. I’ve not yet listened to this particular podcast. I’ve heard Tim mention Stoicism on his podcast. I was interested to read that this philosophy is mentioned in the Bible, as in the verse below talking about a man named Paul.

    He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.

    Acts 17:18

    So in my brief investigation, Stoicism promotes a disciplined life, and Epicurean philosophy promotes seeking pleasure.

    The Bible seems to favor discipline, as below.

    A lazy person’s way is blocked with briers,

    but the path of the upright is an open highway.

    Proverbs 16:15

    This reminds me of one of your guests, Jerzy Gregorek sayings

    Hard choices, easy life, easy choices, hard life.

    Anyway, what was Paul’s message to the Stoics and Ericurians?

    “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but

    now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to

    him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he

    has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from

    the dead.” Acts 17:30-31

    So what I gather from this is that a disciplined life is good, but not the ultimate solution for our eternal destiny. If you are interested, the “man” mentioned above is Jesus.

  11. Hi Tim I loved the latest episode with Jocko. You guys are truly inspirational. I was wondering if you ever thought about doing an episode on intuition? I would enjoy your insite on the topic.

  12. Don’t give him the Podcast back, hijack it!

    Book him a couple more weeks of the Monk stuff, slip them a few bucks to keep him there.

    Fed up of Ferriss now, we want more Jocko.

    (Only teasing, we love the little rascal really…..)

  13. So Appropriate Right Now! Thanks Jocko & Tim. My 1st podcast… Yes I’m embarrassed – Read your books, joined this NL list YEARS ago.. and NOW I listen? Wow. When do I start taking the time to read more – and think about my business and personal growth? … Here and Right now.

  14. Please come back, Tim. Soon.

    This was one of the most boring podcasts I have ever listened to in my life. Completely and totally lacking inspiration. I was hoping to tune in and hear someone give me some great insights about motivation and discipline, and what I got was someone talking about themselves and what they do for their workout (while talking about how they weren’t going to going to detail about their workout). Period.

    I have no doubt your guest is very accomplished, but I think I speak for many of your listeners when I say that what I want to hear more about is how he gets to his point of action when it’s last thing in the world he wants to do.

    I hope you are getting what you need from this time away. You deserve it.

    And I miss you and your voice of curiosity and inquiry and humility.

    1. Agreed.. Tim, we love you but this was the least actionable show I’ve consumed from you and I consumed pretty much everything.

  15. Tim, you are an absolute GEM for bringing Jocko online.He’s quickly become one of my favorite podcasters and authors.

    I think people should read his first book with Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership, for context and background on Jocko.

    When it comes to his newest book, I recommend the audiobook and hardcover for the full JOCKO effect.

    [Moderator: additional text and link removed.]

  16. Hello Tim (and staff),

    My name is Shea Balden and I am a student of international business, Spanish,and psychology at St. Edward’s University here in Austin, Texas.

    First off, I wanted to thank you for all the content, free and premium, that you have unleashed on the world over the past decade. You have introduced the work of many specialists in niches and corners of various fields of study to the masses.

    The impact your writing and interviews has had on my life cannot be over stated. For example, you have motivated me to optimize sleep, nutrition, mental, and physical health during times when I may have otherwise strayed and made poor life decisions. I am now in the best shape of my life.

    Another example, I loved Jocko so much that I decided to dedicate my entire semester long project in management to his company Echelon Front.

    You even motivated me to intern with my university’s newspaper and gain interviewing experience of my own.

    I figured that after reading your books, posts, and listening to thousands of hours of your interviews that it was high time that I reached out and said thank you.

    Yours truly,

    Shea Balden

  17. Disclaimer – I know that I’m not explaining the science and processes to their technical and scientific definitions but more or less generalizing the info based on how I interpreted and stored it in memory.

    Sorry I couldnt find any Tim Ferris forums to post these questions other than bodybuilding one.

    Last couple weeks I’ve gone back to my past experiment of 3 separate Tim ferris porotocols in conjunction with eachother.

    1. Hyper/hypothermic conditioning

    2. Colorado experiment variations

    3. intermittent fasting

    My understanding is these all have individually been shown to have huge increase on gh, raising red blood cells and plasma, testosterone, reducing oxidative stress (lactic acid buildup I get from prolonged crossfit exercise of the same muscle group, this is specific to me and CFS condition. Not majority of People who push back their threshold)

    The main point of all 3 programs is to put body in a naturally anabolic state, increasing all naturally occurring hormones related to performance, hypertrophy, strength, and stamina; possibly alter phenotype and cells for performance, growth, strength, and stamina…?

    3 programs I’m using in conjunction are:

    1) Intermittent fast 18-20 hours followed by start of my workout.

    * main performance benefit- Drastic increase in gh (up to 1000% normal levels) and other naturally occurring hormones. Along with many health benefits.

    2) Colorado experiment – my own version. Bunch of exercises performed to failure, or finished with long static hold. I mix sequence, exercises, reps, and sets each workout based on feel. From heavy static holds, negatives, to extremely high rep body weight movements. But it also constant in that Everything is to failure with very low total volume on any one exercise or muscle group and it’s always a whole body workout hitting all muscles for either 1 or 2 sets. (Squats I still have to build to my working set or two sets)

    *main performance benefit – shown to be the right mixture to peak testosterone and atp to the skeletal muscle cells. Allows for quicker recovery and turnaround. Anabaolic effect last beyond workout for 1-2 days

    ** I’ve been starting this Workout with a 75-110 minute run on eliptcal just to focus on fat burning in keto fasted state, but this isn’t required part of the 3 protocols. (12-15 miles on that machine is a breeze now but don’t think it would be same on treadmill with pounding on knees as joints. )

    3) hyperthermic training – sometimes with hypothermic cycling in the pool ( if I’m feeling up to it as this is often hour 24 of a fast and intense 2-3 hr workout). Sauna for 1-2 sessions of 15 mins.

    * main performance benefit – Vast health, hormone and recovery benefits listed in article link at the top


    – I normally break fast with a double chicken chipotle bowl, little white and brown rice, salsas, low fats, no cheese or quac. Read before fats decrease gh release post workout.

    – I recover and eat normal for 1-2 days before starting next fast day before training.

    Results so far:

    1) increased strength and stamina in all my lifts. Weaker underused ones like biceps have increased strength by almost 30% in one month or about 6-7 workouts.

    2) better focus, mood, skin, joint health/inflammation likely result of raised hgh levels.

    3) higher sexual drive likely result of increased testosterone

    4) haven’t gotten where I want to be with lowering body fat on lower part of stomach. Likely confounding variable as I’ve had some very poor eating on off days. Feels like it’s stayed same or reduced slight 1-2% while fighting not much planned out dieting. Need to hone diet in for more conclusive observation

    What are your notes and thoughts on altering or improving?

    Not sure these three are all supposed to go together like this?

  18. Hi Tim, I started the slow carb diet nearly a month ago and HAVE NOT lost any weight. Before doing this diet, I was eating very low fat and nearly zero carbs. I did eat dairy and didn’t eat fruit. When I switched to this diet, I stopped the dairy, added fats from meat and egg yolks, and drink a 30g protein shake each morning. I NEVER cheat, except for my cheat day, and I eat modest portions, lots of beans, meat and some vegetables. I also eat within an hour of going to sleep. I have about 30 pounds to lose, and I’m finding it extremely frustrating. I do work out about three times a week, but nothing too intense. I am a healthy man with no health issues, no hormonal issues, or metabolic issues. I don’t take the cold shower, though I drink my shake in the morning with ice. What do you think could be the problem? I haven’t lost any inches, either.

  19. Hey Tim,

    Why not set up a link to the older 5-bullet Friday emails you’ve sent for someone whose recently signed up and would wana check what’s missed in the last few months. That’d be good. A small link somewhere at the end directing you to older emails. I believe “The Hustle” has it somewhere too if im not wrong. Looking fwd.

  20. Hey Tim… think your amazing lol SHOCKER many people do! Thanks for what you do! I wanna know more about LDN and how it affects autoimmune disease. The incidence of autoimmune disease has increased exponentially in the last several decades. I am one of millions of primarily women who suffer and will suffer from Hashimoto’s (body attacking my thryoid). As it does affect so many women we are put on anti-depressants, hormones, remove our uterus… it goes on and on…. so this drug isn’t studied because it’s an old drug and big pharm can’t make money so no trials are done for autoimmune disease. Even though there are many studies that have been done to support it’s improvement on autoimmune disease.

    So, that being said it would be great if you could have a speaker talk about this drug and it’s health benefits.


    Maggie Ortiz, RN, MSN

    1. Maggie I am not a doctor nor do i claim to be. but from all i’ve studied and experienced:

      1. Hashimotos – avoid all goitrogenic substances and foods ( thyroid blockers). this includes brassica vegetables, soy, chlorine and flouride. This means avoiding tap water for drinking. Alcohol does not help either.

      Study iodine. Iodoral a clean bio available iodine supplement is old and famous. Dr Brownstein wrote the definitive book on iodine I believes it called the iodine bible?

      2. Auto urine therapy cures auto immune disease according to tons of sufferers. There are some definitive books on the subject of urine therapy. Auto immune disease doesnt respond to anything! after decades of sufferring people reported immediate relief with urine therapy

  21. Questions for Tim are below And maybe this can be a show topic? Einstein’s alleged theory of happiness is as follows:

    “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”

    Wrong? Right? Partially right? Right for some people, but not for others?

  22. Hi tim,

    First, thanks for a wonderful episode. I was going through 5-Bullet Friday. Now a days reading again 4 hours work week and it gives me energy to forward my journey. Keep it up.



  23. Tim, thanks for letting Jocko take over – you introduced me to Jocko in his first podcast with you and I am now an avid follower of his podcast and have purchased (and gifted) Extreme Ownership and now The Dedication Equals Freedom Field Manual – which I purchased for my two assistants at work. Just wanted to say thanks for always bringing it and linking us with people who can change our lives for the better.

    Jocko, thank you for the signed copy you sent me and Semper Fi. Looking forward to attending the next Muster.

    Tim, looking forward to Tribe of Mentors – hardcover on order – can’t curl the Kindle.

    Time to get after it.


  24. So, so sorry for the loss of this wonderful man. I listened to your introduction last night on the train out of London and I was a choked up mess within minutes the emotion crackling through your delivery Tim. By far the most emotional podcast i’ve ever experienced and your finest work to date. Fair play to you all for the emotional efforts to produce this piece. Sorry for your loss and I hope memories of happier times bring you some comfort. Best Wishes Greg x

  25. Jocko – thanks for the episode. I’m a long-time fan. You inspired me to start training BJJ. I’m training about three months now. I’m getting strangled and tied up in knots every day – it’s great fun! Such a humbling learning experience.

  26. Jocko, you have to stop the daily posting of pictures of your watch at 4:30am + the post-workout snapshot! It’s killing me, haha! Yep, discipline = freedom.

  27. I’d love to know (if shareable) the contents of those two large post-it’s hanging in your extremely well-organized galley (your galley gave me ideas for kitchen design: many items hanging from hooks; plates with no cupboards needing to

    open for access).

  28. The book is great, bought it, love it!

    Any idea if the workout series in each section (beginner, intermediate, advanced) shall be done all within ONE workout?

    ..or progressively? (Meaning once you master beginner series one, you go to beginner series two, then series three..? But never do all in one workout?). It’s not really clear from the book. I would really appreciate help here! Also how often to train (if to rotate pull, push, lift, squat and then day-off for example, or some other way)

    Many, many thanks!