The Key to Success: Doing the Right Thing When Nobody's Looking

If you want more freedom in life, get more disciplined. This is the essence of Jocko Willink’s bestselling book ‘Discipline Equals Freedom.’ It can be applied to any and every aspect of your life and covers both mental and physical discipline. Being disciplined means doing the right thing when no-one’s watching. 

The old, anonymous saying of “doing the right thing when nobody’s looking” really applies here. We can put on a show for others and perform in the spotlight, but what use is that if it’s just a façade that vanishes when we’re left alone?  

Here are some of the most inspiring quotes to inspire you to do more and be more through the art of discipline:

“To reach goals and overcome obstacles and become the best version of you possible will not happen by itself. It will not happen cutting corners, taking shortcuts, or looking for the easy way. THERE IS NO EASY WAY.”

There are no shortcuts in life. There are no cheat codes. There is no easy way. Most people forget about this and dream their lives away instead of taking action. Things rarely happen by miracle. Stop waiting for luck and success to find you, go out and create it for yourself. 

“People are not who you want them to be. Kill your idols.”

Nobody’s perfect, and more importantly, nobody’s YOU. Don’t try to be like other people. Yes, you can learn from them but don’t copy their every move, they’re only human too. 

“Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind. And then you can SET IT FREE.”

When you’ve overcome by stress, fear, and emotion, you’ll notice that it’s almost impossible to do anything. But these feelings are just that; feelings created by yourself in your own mind. When you learn to control your mind instead of letting it control you, you will be free from your negative thoughts. Discipline over the mind is your ultimate freedom.

“Discipline and willpower do not go down as they are called into action – they actually get stronger.”

Putting self-discipline into action will only make it stronger, not the other way around. Yes, you might face resistance at first. Heck, you might face resistance every single day! But as you get stronger, so will your discipline. So will your feeling of freedom. 

“Life can be overwhelming. That’s the way life works. It is testing you. It is going to throw problems at you, and it is going to throw them at you all at the same time… But let me tell you, that does not mean give up fighting.

In fact: It means the opposite.

It is time for you to fight harder.”

When it seems like nothing is going your way, it’s simply life’s way of testing whether you really want what you say you do. It’s testing whether you’re willing to overcome the biggest obstacles to get to your goals. Don’t take it as a direct hit – catch that curveball and roll with it. 

“Let challenges raise you up – let them elevate you.”

Don’t let the weight of stress and challenge crush you. That’s not what they’re meant to do. Take on challenges with a smile. Learn from your mistakes. Let hardships elevate you and mistakes make you wiser. That is how you excel in life. 

“The only thing valuable in regret is the lesson you learned.”

Don’t waste your time wallowing in what could’ve, should’ve or would’ve been. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t let regret swallow you up – take what’s valuable and learn from it. Your only mistake is not learning from your mistakes. 

“Discipline can seem like your worst enemy. But in reality, it is your best friend. It will take care of you like nothing else can.”

We might think of discipline as the enemy of freedom, its complete opposite. But what discipline really does it give you that freedom like nothing else will. Discipline will turn you into what you want to become faster than anything else would. 

“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.”

Motivation is a fickle friend. One day it’s here and the next day it isn’t. Motivation is not something that you should count on. Discipline is. 

“Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it… Start doing it.”

Instead of wasting time thinking about the ins and outs of a new decision, project, or task you want to do, just get started. You can always edit a first draft; you cannot edit a blank page. 

“Humans can withstand almost inconceivable stress – and you can too.”

If you think the stress is too much, just remember that you are stronger than you think. You can handle more than you know. Just give yourself the chance to prove it. 

“Faster. Stronger. Smarter. More humble. Less ego.”

When you kill your ego, you are free to tackle the things that would’ve otherwise caused you to cower in fear. You get better in ways you can’t imagine because there’s nothing holding you back.


The path to freedom lies in discipline. Taking control of your life and your situation by exercising discipline takes a LOT of work and commitment. But if you’re serious about finding freedom, this is the way. 

The key to success lies in the actions we do when there’s nobody there to witness them. When we don’t get praised or punished for what we do. When we are disciplined enough to do the right thing by ourselves, that is when we win.  

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