Most people, when thinking about discipline as a concept, would associate it negatively with a lack of freedom. They might see discipline as a constraint, a limiting mindset that only allows one to operate within very strict confines of whatever that discipline may be applied to.
I would like to offer a different point of view; one that has become apparent through my martial arts training over the last three years, and a way of viewing discipline which was outlined to me concisely in the wise closing chapter of a book I’ve just finished reading called, ‘Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win‘. This is now one of my most favourite books I’ve read to date, as the lessons extrapolated from the lessons learned in combat are clear, concise and highly relevant for anyone who sees the value of taking full ownership of their lives.
Discipline equals freedom.
I now practice discipline daily in my life, and I know now from personal experience that it provides for me a level of freedom that I had previously only dreamed about. You see, before this revelation, I was resentful and angry that I had no time or resources to do the things in life that really appealed to me because of what I saw as external constraints that soaked up all my free time and left me nothing to pursue the things I was passionate about. I realise now that this was self limiting bullshit.
I had to make the time – and that could only be achieved through discipline.
Allow me to extrapolate.
I used to set my alarm at around 8am (having to be in work for 9am), so I could maximise my time in bed and give myself just enough time to drag my sorry arse downstairs for a strong mug of coffee and to get ready. My mornings were constantly rushed, and I was left feeling resentful that I had no time for myself. I wanted to practise yoga, I wanted to going running, write a blog, go to the gym, and feel like my free time was my own; but I didn’t have time, and I blamed my job. It was so unfair that life had dealt me a hand that required such a limiting lifestyle, seemingly dedicated to everything but the things I was truly passionate about doing.
Then I read a book, given to me as a gift by my mentor and business coach, Gavin Preston, called My Miracle Morning. Holy shit! My perception shifted, and I had to try the principals I’d read within its pages to see if it really worked. The basic principal of this book was simple; set you alarm an hour earlier in the morning, discipline yourself to get out of bed, and then use the new found free time to pursue your passions in the form of a morning ritual or routine.
So I did, and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal.
Guess what? I now set my alarm clock for 6:30am or earlier EVERY single morning – I practice the discipline of getting out of bed when it goes off rather than hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep, and the result was the new found freedom I had been dreaming of. Discipline delivers freedom.
My morning routine now consists of waking early, which in turn allows me to enjoy my morning without the stress of needing to be somewhere imminently. I meditate daily, go to the gym or practice yoga, I read every single day, and get quality time with my son that I would never have managed without my practicing discipline on a daily basis – and I’m 10x the man because of it.
Do I jump out of bed with energy and vigour when my alarm goes off? Do I fuck. But I make myself do it anyway – that’s what discipline is all about. When I shower in the mornings, I spend the last three minutes standing under a freezing cold stream of water. Why? Because I enjoy it? No! I do it because it’s good for me, because I am disciplining myself so that when my mind says do it, I fucking do it. That’s discipline. That’s freedom.
The same goes for my exercise routine and my martial arts training. Due to my unwavering discipline in training, I have the freedom of moving my body more easily because my discipline keeps my body strong, mobile and flexible. I move through life with greater ease, and I am confident because I am strong – because I know that through discipline I face and conquer adversity on a daily basis, and so when adversity comes knocking I have the freedom in my mind to know I can and will deal with it efficiently and effectively. I am not a prisoner of my fears – I face them head on, look them in the eye and say ‘bring your worst motherfucker – I’m ready; I am a slave to no one, and least of all myself’.
In health, I am disciplined in eating well, and avoiding toxins and so this affords me the freedom of having a strong healthy body as a tool to use in life to achieve my goals, dreams and aspirations. I am not limited by disease, a lack of energy or a foggy mind.
Discipline equals freedom – perception is everything.