Discipline Will Set You Free

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Our commitments allow us to move to a higher level of freedom. In our culture we think of freedom as the absence of restraint. That is freedom from. But there is another and higher kind of freedom. That is freedom to. This is the freedom as fullness of capacity, and it often involves restriction and restraint. You have to chain yourself to the piano and practice for year after year if you want to have the freedom to really play. You have to chain yourself to a certain set of virtuous habits so you do not become a slave to your destructive desires – the desire for alcohol, the desire for approval, the desire to lie in bed all day.

As theologian Tim Keller puts it, real freedom “is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones.” So much of our lives are determined by the definition of freedom as we carry around unconsciously in our heads. On the second mountain it is your chains that set you free.” – The Second Mountain, David Brooks

I shared this David Brooks brick of wisdom in my team meeting this week; it reminds me of the profound, and, seemingly counterintuitive principle from Extreme Ownership: discipline equals freedom. It is counterintuitive, because how can disciplining yourself make you more free? 

Just as David Brooks suggests that the pianist needs to chain themselves to the piano to have the freedom to compose, most awesome things I have been able to do have been driven by unmitigated daily discipline. 

Hiking/Trotting an ultra marathon on the Maryland Appalachian Trail with less than a month’s notice was only possible due to years of not missing a day of training in the gym. Being comfortable taking the time to visit five national parks last year with friends can only be possible from having the discipline to work hard while on the job. It is the discipline to never complain that rewires your brain into being an optimist, leading to more happiness and success. Having a high savings rate and ultimately achieving financial independence can only be done through years of disciplined spending and learning to insource new skills. 

It is the discipline that will set us free. 


Chain by ruliani from the Noun Project

 

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