Discipline Equals Freedom


Culture would say that freedom means no rules; you can’t tell me what to do. However, in the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, they have a chapter titled Discipline Equals Freedom – The Dichotomy of Leadership. As they suggest, those that have strong self-discipline offer themselves a lot of freedom as a result.

As a SEAL, Jocko’s experience revealed the difference between “good” and “exceptional” in any SEAL was self-discipline. Those that had the personal will to get up earlier to prepare did better than those who got up at the required time. Those that had the self-discipline to stay in shape were better prepared to carry their gear in the field. This strength and stamina gave them freedom to move more easily and be more effective.

Recently I was on a ski trip. While going up the chair lift, one of the members of our group was visiting with a gentleman riding up the lift with us. Through the conversation it came out that he was 84 years old. His wife wasn’t with him because she was giving skiing lessons at age 80. When asked what it takes to be able to still ski at that age, his response was, “just suck it up and do it.” While we all laughed at his response, it was a great reminder of how his self-discipline of “just doing it” gave him the freedom to ski, even at the age of 84.

Discipline doesn’t offer freedom just for individuals, but also for teams. If SOP’s (standard operating procedures) are executed with discipline, it frees the mind to think of things that are important at the moment, which allows the teams to execute faster, sharper and more efficiently. It also offers the option of mixing and matching resources, because everyone follows the same SOP.

If you have not read Extreme Ownership, The 10th code does a great job of summarizing this concept and outlines some of the things we can do at Interstates to allow freedom within the discipline of executing our integrated projects. “Discipline does not make a team more rigid, but more flexible by creating processes and systems that allow teams to execute in different conditions without having to re-think the basics.”

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Continue Leading the Interstates Way!

Jack Woelber, Interstates Control Systems, Inc. President