Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL commander and the author of Extreme Ownership: How the U.S. Navy SEALS Lead to Win. While he is no longer on active duty, he still wakes up early (4:30 a.m.!) every day because he believes that 1) discipline is one of the most important traits for success, and 2) how you respond to an alarm clock’s ring is your first opportunity of the day to put your discipline to the test.
“The moment the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie there in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win — you pass the test. If you are mentally weak for that moment and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail. Though it seems small, that weakness translates to more significant decisions. But if you exercise discipline, that too translates to more substantial elements of your life … Waking up early was the first example I noticed in the SEAL Teams in which discipline was really the difference between being good and being exceptional.”
I’m not going to suggest that high school students make a habit of getting up at 4:30 a.m.—in fact, I’ve regularly posted that many high school kids need to get more sleep. And even the Army Surgeon General agrees that adequate sleep is crucial for health and for gaining a competitive edge.
But if you’re one of those people who hits the snooze button two or three (or four) times before you get up, you might consider just setting the alarm for later and getting up on the first try. You’ll not only be exercising SEAL-like discipline first thing in the morning, but you’d also get more (good) sleep and be better rested, as this past post explains.