4:30 AM- Monday May 22, 2017
I'm up. The easy decision is to lay back down and try to get more sleep. Not happening. My approach to Monday sets the tone for the entire week. Last week was a wash. Commitments, rehearsals and a late night gig left me off my preferred course. It's time to attack this week.
I go out onto my designated warm up area and do a ten minute meditation. Centered, I start my bodyweight fitness routine. It's still dark outside, it seems the world is still asleep as I grunt out another set of push ups. All I'm missing is a pull up bar and parallel bars for dips and so I ride my bike to the nearest fitness park. There's hardly anyone out on the streets. By 6 AM the workout is complete. I'm home and able to get JP ready for school. I have the rest of the morning to write and to practice.
I am free.
The podcast was titled "The Scariest Navy SEAL Imaginable and What he Taught Me"
This podcast introduced me and the world to one Jocko Willink. Military legend who lead SEAL Task Unit Bruiser in the Battle of Ramadi during the second conflict in Iraq. Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit in the entire war.
Most SEALs are quiet professionals who do not venture into the public domain. Hence, the general population doesn't get to hear the unique perspective of military professionals and are instead inundated by the opinions of political analyst on the talk show circuit when it comes to the subject of war. WIllink was providing an important perspective to leadership and training that people weren't used to hearing.
Willink along with fellow SEALl Leif Babin wrote a book called "Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEAL's Lead and Win"
I was intrigued. After Jockos podcast on Tim Ferriss he jumped on Joe Rogan's podcast. Joe had seen Jocko around the UFC prior to his book because he was of course, an elite Jui-Jitsu blackbelt who trains with such Jui-Jitsu legends like Dean Lister.
At this point, the groundswell that started with Jocko's initial podcast with Tim Ferriss had grown into a movement amongst the self-development community. He was thrust from obscurity to fame in a completely unintentional manner. There was a demand for more and then suddenly, there was a new podcast in town.
All of this interest in Jocko had to do with his approach to leadership. The belief system is that war is like life, only amplified. The leadership principles Jocko espouses include:
- Own EVERYTHING in your life. Your circumstance is not the fault of any other person on earth. Your situation is all the consequence of your actions. If you are not happy with your situation, you have the sole responsibility to change it.
- Leading up and down the chain of command. Even if you have a boss, you must display leadership to them so that you show yourself to be a reliable employee who can be trusted to carry through your tasks to completion.
- Prioritize and Execute.
- Check the ego.
- Decentralized Command. The idea that a good leader does not need to micromanage everyone under them. If a leader communicates the mission well, the leaders associates can be trusted to carry through the mission as they deem fit.
The real game changer is the concept of discipline equals freedom. When you are disciplined enough to wake up early and exercise, you are able to do more things during your day. Instead of the burden of trying to fit your workout in during the day you are free to pursue other activities and increase your overall productivity.
The discipline that it takes to wake up early and exercise translates to all other aspects of your life. Being a great musician takes discipline, the same with maintaining an orderly household and being a good spouse and parent.
I find that everything in my life is better when my discipline is intact. My life is a mess when my discipline is weak. I become susceptible to distraction and make poor choices with my diet and family life. If I have a solid standard operating procedure I get more done and I feel better.
At this point, I am not exercising to train for a marathon or a triathlon. I am training to do better in all aspects of my life.
You Are Not A Precious Snowflake
I spent many years being a prima donna. I was the most talented yet underappreciated artist that the world had yet to discover. Other people had to work hard to get places in life but I was special. I could cruise in the low gear and enjoy the ride. The world needed me and in return I would simply exist and be a gift to the world.
My 20's were spent in a haze of excess. I had a band, a truck and a vision. I was going to be a successful musician. I moved to Burbank and took on the identity of the starving artist. The thing was, I wasn't starving. I was fat. I was an undisciplined slug of a young man.
I have now come to the conclusion that I was not operating anywhere close to my fullest potential. My laid back type B approach to life didn't work anymore and I could argue that it never truly worked.
The clock is ticking and I only have so many more years left on this earth. My peers will fall victim to their excesses and develop chronic pain and reliance on pharmaceutical drugs to keep them feeling good. They will develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease and pay exorbitant amounts of money to doctors and big pharma to keep themselves alive.
Waking up early and working out is free. It costs you nothing to set a physical goal and then to achieve it. You don't need a personal trainer to keep you accountable. You don't even need a gym membership. You don't need Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. You need to make the decision that to be idle is not as beneficial as being active and then you DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
And then here comes the hard part. When motivation runs out (as it always does)...
You get up and do it anyways.
Jocko Willink isn't my idol. He isn't my messiah. He's someone who has successfully articulated concepts which has translated to a better life for me and I feel like a LOT of people could derive benefits from this approach.
Don't make excuses, don't blame anyone else for your situation.
Get up, get out and take ownership of your life.