Books for software engineers and managers

Discipline Equals Freedom

by Jocko Willink, Navy SEAL

Discipline beats motivation

Self-help books love motivation and this isn’t your typical self-help book.

Jocko is about discipline. Having the fortitude to get the job done each and every day.

Stop searching for motivation and start putting in the work.

Think of aggression as an internal character trait not an outward attitude; a default state of  proactivity

To Jocko, proactive and aggressive are synonyms. Being aggressive is about moving and thinking fast.

Aggression is an internal state of mind focused on winning.

Stop looking for life hacks and keep putting in the work, especially when you don’t feel like  it

Not feeling motivated to fix a bug? Do it anyway.

Don’t want to work out today? Do it anyway.

Put off taking a break.

Stay on the warpath, constantly sharpening your skills and preparing for  battle

As a software engineer in a growing field, coasting is easy if you want.

But in a field with rampant ageism, it’s a double edge sword. The first 10 years of your career might feel easy. The next 20 you’re in a defensive position fending off implicit or explicit accusations of stagnation.

The warpath is about constantly preparing your mind and body for battle.

Personify and demonize weakness, making it pay for speaking  up

Jocko personifies weakness, hearing it say things like, “I worked out hard yesterday, so I can take today off.”

After personification comes demonization and retribution against weakness for speaking up.

Sometimes you need to go scorched earth with no plan  B

The field of software engineering is booming and many engineers start a job with one foot out the door. In Cracking the Coding Interview, the author recommends interviewing at least once per year! Engineers feel surrounded by opportunity and the abundance of love from recruiters.

They get lost in self-praise. How great I must be that all these companies want to hire me.

And they lose the opportunity to go scorched earth on their current job. To give everything they’ve got. To feel the satisfaction of going all-in.

Discipline Equals Freedom

How strongly do I recommend Discipline Equals Freedom?
4 / 10

Before you read Jocko, listen to a podcast or YouTube video of him speaking to both make the reading experience more enjoyable and to understand he’s not as meat-headed and macho as he reads on paper.

Read this book with a grain of salt. Jocko’s advice won’t apply to every situation. But the concepts Jocko offers provide a good check against your weaknesses.