The most powerful and practical book I’ve read this year, without a doubt, is Extreme Ownership, How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
The book is filled with lessons learned for leadership of a team and self-leadership, and it’s one you want to keep at your desk to refresh your mind every so often of the rich principles.
Today I want to explore one of the standout components because it relates very closely with what we do at Kahuna Accounting.
Discipline = Freedom
The final chapter of the book is called Discipline Equals Freedom.
The chapter breaks down the apparent contradiction in terms. Normally when we think of discipline we think of rules, constraints and being boxed in. Freedom, on the other hand, we believe, is no rules or any type of rigid standards to fit into. Freedom is doing whatever we want!
But in our lives we know this isn’t true. We know the more we relax our discipline, the more our freedom is taken away.
In the book, one example provided is getting up early in the morning. If you have the discipline to get up early in the morning, you are rewarded with more freedom of time to get things done.
This is very true in my life. As a father of a 2 year old and almost 1 year old, nearly all of my time is either devoted to work or spending time with those kids.
But what if I want to do more things that I’m passionate or excited about? What if I want “me time” for reading, listening to podcasts or my own projects?
Get up early. I’ve started to discipline myself to get up before 5 a.m. so I can have a few hours of personal time to do the things that I love doing, without sacrificing work productivity or time with family.
Another example would be with diet. We may think freedom would be to eat whatever we want whenever we want. But the opposite is true. If we eat poorly, we’ll quickly become unhealthy and then will have our freedom taken from us because of new restrictions.
On the other hand, if you are disciplined enough to eat healthy, you then have the freedom to do what you want sometimes with a Cheat Day and have something fun.
“Our freedom to operate and maneuver had increased substantially through disciplined procedures. Discipline equals freedom.”
― Jocko Willink,
Bookkeeping is Discipline in Business
At Kahuna Accounting, we find ourselves working with entrepreneurs who are thinking big and making a difference in the world.
We often find ourselves at a similar contradiction in terms, because these entrepreneurs want to talk about their big plans for growth and hiring and multiplying their efforts, but we’re talking about bookkeeping and financial reports. Why should anyone care?
Because bookkeeping and accounting provides business discipline that leads to freedom.
Acclaimed tax strategist Tom Wheelwright made this exact point in a recent newsletter post. He listed several strategies for building wealth and ways to make moves in your business, but then cautioned that none of it would be relevant without solid financials.
“Have you noticed that each of (these strategies) is impacted by your bookkeeping?
Bookkeeping is one of the most powerful tools in a tax strategy. Without up-to-date bookkeeping, it is impossible to determine if anything in your tax strategy needs to be adjusted in order to maximize tax savings.
Now is the time to get caught up.”
Your financial fundamentals provide the freedom to do the big things you want to do. When your financials are reconciled, you have the ability to take those numbers and make projections to strategize for the future.
If you are sales-minded, your bookkeeping can provide answers about the Return on Investment of what you’ve been doing, so you can commit more resources to what is working.
Even more powerfully, when you are disciplined with financials, you are able to move faster because you can produce financial reports on demand. If you’ve ever tried to raise capital or work with a bank – you need to be able to produce detailed financial reports, quickly. If you have the discipline to stay on top of your numbers, you then have the freedom to move quickly when the reports are need.
And perhaps most importantly, being disciplined financially gives you peace of mind on where the business stands. You can see how profitable you are and what you need to do to grow and improve. You have peace of mind to look forward and stay focused on the things you care about most.
You may not love the bookkeeping, just like you may not like getting up early in the morning or eating healthy. But it’s a discipline that pays off with more freedom in the end.