The Dichotomy of Freedom

“Freedom ain’t free”. A short, simple statement that serves to put on display the idea of irony. Now, the path to freedom will have a different look for many people. There is a key ingredient of sacrifice. This can be a sacrifice of time, which can keep you away from joyous moments with loved ones and friends. Financial sacrifice. Which if done recklessly, can wreak additional hardship and turmoil. And the one that is commonly referred to as “the ultimate sacrifice”, which refers to ones who have sacrificed life. But then there is another key ingredient that is of equal importance that puts you on that path of freedom. That ingredient is “discipline”. Discipline is the ultimate utility that has a place in any effort towards mission accomplishment and Jocko Willink has instinctually found himself in a position that many people would consider to be something of an ambassador to that very principle. I mean, he’s literally written a book about it.

Jocko is a highly decorated, former Navy SEAL commander of the most decorated SEAL Team unit (Task Unit Bruiser) to come out of Iraq. A best selling author of multiple books, from leadership to children’s books. Co-founder of a leadership consulting firm that assists businesses to operate at optimal levels. Gym owner, top-rated podcast host, family man, friend, the list is vast. However, these items are brought up to highlight, not only his accomplishments but to showcase what can be done with a steady diet of discipline. He serves as a leader in it’s most revered form, “from the front”. A “do as I say, AND as I do” type, with a proper amount of humility and a willingness to follow when it’s time to follow.

It is that last element mentioned that I would like to highlight. Humility. This is something that tends to get lost when people are put in a position of leadership. Many see the stern exterior and uncompromising personalities of people who happen to be in a position of authority and get lost in the imagery of the stereotypical hard ass and chalk that up as “leadership”. Whereas, a proven leader may tell you otherwise and acknowledge that the unsung hero of effective leadership is humility and an ability to be open to criticisms to areas in which one may not be as well equipped to handle and defer. And it is in this detail and approach that Jocko illustrates in his books and in his practice of jiu-jitsu. The willingness to defer to his team(s) and in a jiu-jitsu sense, know when to tap. And after the tap is when the next round of work and assessment begins. The ability and willingness to break down your own mistakes with an open mind and continue an aggressive action to remedy the deficit with extreme prejudice.

So when you’re able to see the irony in the dichotomy, then you may have unlocked the most powerful element of high-performance. To be a great leader, one must be a great follower. To improve your grappling, practice your striking. To be a better striker, practice grappling. To get stronger, train aggressively, but rest with equal aggression. To know more, ask more. Discipline Equals Freedom. And that is The Dichotomy of Leadership.

Not long ago, I had the pleasure to link up with Jocko and my old buddy Echo Charles, who happens to be the producer and co-host of the Jocko Podcast. We spent an afternoon at his Victory MMA academy in San Diego and they were gracious enough to show some technique as well have a sit-down and talk a little about Jocko’s service and interest in jiu-jitsu. As an added bonus Dean Lister was in the house and he also provided some gems. We all know Dean Lister as “the Boogey Man” on the mats, but he is also the proud son of a U.S. Marine veteran.

On behalf of Jiu-Jitsu Magazine, I would like to acknowledge and thank all of the veterans who have given up a significant piece of their freedom in an effort to see to it that the rest of ours is fully preserved. #GetSome


Bonus Tech: Jocko Willink – Close With and Destroy              Bonus Tech: Dean Lister – Attacks From The Back



Bonus Tech: Dean Lister – Attack From Closed Guard            Bonus Tech: Echo Charles – Back Take From Mount



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Jim Lawson is a US Marine Corps veteran, jiu-jitsu black belt under Rodrigo Teixeira, who loves to travel and teach jiu-jitsu to anyone who will listen. He has a lot of other experiences and credentials but who really cares about all that. He’d love to keep in touch with you. You can stay in touch with him either through email or on his social media (where his numbers could really use a boost).

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