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Discipline is Destiny Book Summary, Review, Notes

“Discipline is Destiny” recounts the lives of some of history’s most accomplished people, detailing how they rose to the top of their fields by relying on the life-changing power of self-discipline. 



This book will show you how to create an unbreakable sense of self-control despite the fact that we live in a world full of instability and distractions. 



After finishing this book, you will have a better understanding of how to exercise self-discipline in all aspects of your life, including your work, your emotions, the words you use, and the actions you take.


Book Title— Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control
Ryan Holiday
Date of Reading—
June 2023

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said in Detail

CHAPTER 1. The Four Virtues

At the beginning of the book, Ryan Holiday talks about Hercules and Greek myths. Hercules was traveling through the hills when he came to a fork in the road. Along the way, he met a goddess who gave him a good life.

She told him that he would get everything he wanted and never feel fear, pain, or sadness again. 

On the other hand, a different goddess gave him a gift that wasn’t as good as the first. The goddess also gave him the Hercules awards, but he had to earn them himself.

The goddess said that this road was a long one that would take a lot of hard work, consistency, and sacrifice. 

The good news is that your path will shape you into your ideal self. 

It is exactly the predicament that we all find ourselves in, which is torn between an approach that provides immediate gratification and a path that is little more difficult but ultimately leads to the achievement of the desired goal. One must decide which one to do.

When this happens, people often choose the easy way to get where they want to go.

In this kind of scenario, the author suggests taking on these four traits:

  1. Courage
  2. Temperance
  3. Justice
  4. Wisdom

Marcus Aurelius, ruler of the Romans and a Stoic philosopher, referred to these characteristics as the “foundation of goodness.”

He held the view that everything worthwhile in life can be attributed to the effort we put in, the skills we develop, and the values we internalize. 

Ryan Holiday says that this is a way for all of us to work on being more disciplined in our daily lives. When we learn discipline, we can find peace of mind.


CHAPTER 2. Introduction

It’s important to define freedom and independence before pursuing them. 

If you’re not happy with your job, your life, or anything else in your life, then you’re not free. So, if you are tired of your job or your surroundings, change them.

You have the answer to every problem, so you need to move forward. Most of the world’s population now has instantaneous access to virtually any resource they desire. 

Still, many of us are sad, even though we have a lot of freedom. They don’t even know they’re doing something wrong. 

This is so because you need the self-control that comes with independence.

Even though things like technology, wealth, and success make us feel free, they will keep us tied down if we don’t have self-discipline. In other words, tools can be a distraction if you don’t have self-control.

Every person has a lower self and a greater self. That is, the message comes from inside us no matter what we do. 

When we do good work, we feel good inside. When we do bad work, we start to feel bad. These thoughts in our heads remind us constantly of why we are here. 

It’s a choice between a path with a goal and a path without a goal.

Some people give up and choose the goalless road, but many others keep trying until they reach their goal. It’s important to keep a balance between these two things.

The practice of self-discipline involves controlling your baser instincts and building up your better nature. 

It means working hard, making good habits a part of your life, taking on tasks, and setting limits to make sure everything stays in balance.


Overall, these living rules are based on principles, self-control, and a strong will.

Ryan Holiday Quote

To build self-discipline, you do need courage. But it is also true that if you live a self-disciplined life, you will immediately become a brave person. 

And most importantly, this habit will make you the best in your field, even if you don’t do well in it now. With regular discipline, acting like the best will become a habit.

Now, with this in mind, make the changes you need to make and start doing the work you need to do to reach your goal. This will help you keep your self-discipline.

CHAPTER 3. The Exterior (The Body)

The first part of this chapter talks about how Lou Gehrig was one of the best baseball stars of his time. 

With 23 grand slams and 495 home runs, he set many world marks. And for more than five years, he kept his name. He used to be fat and not very fit when he was young.

In this case, you might be wondering how someone like this could become a great athlete. The reason is clear, and he trained hard and on time for many years compared to other average players.

To stay physically fit and strong for his game, he always stuck to a simple plan for workouts and food. 

Practicing self-discipline with regards to one’s physical health entails training one’s patience and making long-term investments in one’s wellbeing.

This makes it easier to fight off laziness and sadness, and you’ll start to be able to handle hard situations.

There are a lot of small things you can do to improve your physical health and be at your best.

  1. Get moving in some way. You can do this by running, lifting weights, playing basketball, taking a long walk, running a race, or doing any other outdoor activity.

    You can choose any of these tasks but remember that it should be hard on your body, tire you out, and make you feel uncomfortable. You can get better at being in charge if you do things that make you feel uncomfortable.

    When you look at how some people live, you might think that success means living in comfort or that it doesn’t mean having to work hard. But that is not the case.

    If you want to be successful, you should choose hard things over weak and easy ones. You can get better by being hard on yourself. So you have to train yourself.

    If you can work hard and be happy with less and less comfort, you will get richer and more powerful over time.

  1. Go to bed early. After a long day of work, going to bed early can help you in two ways.

    One is that you will get enough sleep, and if you go to bed early, your body will have time to rest and get ready for the next day.

    And second is that you’ll have more time in the morning to do things like meditate, exercise, and connect with yourself on a deeper level, which will help you grow stronger on the inside.

  1. Simplify everything. Many smart or skilled people find it hard to live a life that means something to them.

    If you want to prevent this and actually enjoy your life, you need to make these things a priority every day.

Do it anyway, even if you’re tired, busy, or don’t need to. You can start small. Start by going for a 10-minute workout in the morning. If you are writing a book, write just one line about it. 

Once you start working every day, you’ll be able to finish that work faster over time.

 And if you do this, your 10-minute run can become a half-hour run in a few months, and if you write one line every day, it can become a page. And every work can be done faster in the same way.

The author makes us remember that as you get stronger physically, you are also getting more determined.


CHAPTER 4. The Inner Domain (The Temperament)

Here we learn that neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett has indicated that physical health has a major impact on brain performance.

If you are weak physically, your mind will also be slow. That’s why you need to keep your body in good shape and keep your mind in check. You can achieve this by regulating your actions and thoughts.

Step two is to teach your mind how to find balance. See how you feel, what you think, and how you act when you’re confused, because the choices we make in those times can change the rest of our lives.

Ryan Holiday Quote 2

Every situation gives you a short amount of time to decide what to do. You can think, organize your ideas, and find out more information. 

Getting upset and laying blame on yourself or someone else is yet another technique to deal with the situation without actually doing anything about it.

Remember that bad situations can’t be solved by being negative; in fact, that can make them worse. So give yourself a little more time to think before you act. 

Ask yourself if you really feel that way or if there is another way to fix the problem. Don’t let fear or anger take over your mind.

Training your concentration is another part of mental self-control. The author recommends using Beethoven’s technique for this, or you can maintain listening to music similar to the work you wish to concentrate on as background music by playing it at low level.

Be a little selfish, and when things are out of your hands, try to improve the situation by focusing on the things you can change and ignoring the things you can’t. This will give you a reason to keep going.

Aside from that, try not to try to be perfect right away. If you do this, you might feel guilty for no reason or lose faith in your skills. So instead of always trying to be perfect, try to do the best you can.


And if you don’t reach your goal, don’t give up. Instead, try again. Remember that we set standards because we want to work towards them, not because we can use them as a reason to not reach our goal. 


You can’t always lose. And this gives us a chance to move on.


Socrates, a famous Greek philosopher, said, “We cannot always be who we are.” This means that everyone has room for improvement. 

That’s when your self-confidence becomes a strength. If you think you can get better, you can. Even if you don’t think so, you still can’t do it, no matter what you think. So keep going forward with trust.


CHAPTER 5. The Magisterial (The Soul)

Charioteers and kings served as excellent role models for the ancients seeking to master the art of command. 

Charioteers had to run as fast as they could while keeping their horses under control. Concentration is required to keep a strong hold on the reins while riding a horse.

He was successfully navigating the hazardous conditions without falling off his horse. The chance of dying was always there, so they had to stay calm in dangerous situations.

The entire time, onlookers cheered and yelled their approval. Consider the total mental, emotional, and spiritual investment required for peak performance under pressure. The Roman Emperor Antoninus Aurelius is a prime illustration of this.

In his 23 years as Roman emperor, he never put his own interests, or those of his family, ahead of those of his people. There was never a time when he avoided doing his work. 

That’s why Romans still hold him in high regard as a bold and fair ruler who maintained order throughout a vast territory.

Antoninus’s success can be attributed in part to his ability to maintain a healthy equilibrium. 

However, self-discipline is meaningless if not paired with other positive character traits such as empathy, kindness, and love. Gaining mastery is a difficult and intricate process.

People will either agree with your decision or completely disagree with it. However, as you get closer to the truth, you’ll develop a more generous and selfless character. 

When you look closely, you’ll see that everyone is on their own timeline. There is no place for judgment here. 

You should make them feel welcome, ensure their happiness, and encourage them to grow. The life of the philosopher Cleanthes is a perfect illustration of this point.

When Cleanthes noticed a guy berating himself for some transgression, he stopped walking on the beach to offer some advice. 

“There is a difference between you and you through wrongdoing; you are good inside, leave that work and become good,” he told the man.

Ryan Holiday Quote 3

Beginning today, you should make it a point to behave in a self-disciplined manner. Don’t do anything that could take you down that path; instead, start doing good right away. 

Too often, we refuse to believe justifiable explanations for our failure to meet our own high standards for effort and achievement. However, you are ultimately responsible for your own failures.

Motivate yourself, love yourself, and have faith in yourself to keep going when things look dark.

We can all learn to exercise self-control. Keep in mind that self-discipline is the ability to manage one’s own behavior, ideas, and emotions in order to achieve one’s objectives. 

If you do this, you can increase your productivity, have better health, and live longer.

You can improve your skills to the point where you can meet any challenge head-on. After you realize this, you can pick yourself back up when you fall and continue your journey with purpose and courage.

Most Important Keywords, Sentences, and Quotes:


CHAPTER 1. The Four Virtues

“Discipline isn’t just endurance and strength. It’s also finding the best, most economical way of doing something. It’s the commitment to evolving and improving so that the tasks get more efficient as you go.”


CHAPTER 2. Introduction


“It is impossible to be committed to anything—professionally or personally—without the discipline to say no to all those other superfluous things. An interview request.


A vibrant social media presence. A glamorous dinner parties. An exotic trip. A lucrative side ventures. An exciting new trend. No one is saying these things won’t be fun, that they don’t have potential benefits.

It’s simply that they also carry with them opportunity costs, they require resources and energy that each person has only so much of. 

The secret to success in almost all fields is large, uninterrupted blocks of focused time. And yet, how many people organize their days or lives to make this possible? And then they wonder why they are frazzled, unproductive, overwhelmed, always behind.”


CHAPTER 3. The Exterior (The Body)

“The fact is the body keeps score. The decisions we make today and always are being recorded, daily, silently and not so silently, in who we are, what we look like, how we feel. 

Are you making good decisions? Are you in control… or is your body?”

“You always control whether you give your best or not. No one can stop you from that.”


CHAPTER 4. The Inner Domain (The Temperament)

“The graveyard of lost potential, we might say, is filled with people who just needed to do something else first. The time to do it is now.”

“You don’t have to verbalize every thought. You don’t have to always give your opinion—especially when it’s not solicited. 

Just because there is a pause doesn’t mean you have to fill it. Just because everyone else is talking doesn’t mean you have to jump in. 

You can sit with the awkwardness. You can use the silence to your advantage. You can wait and see.”

“Understand: Most of the people doing important work are people you’ve never heard of—they want it that way. Most happy people don’t need you to know how happy they are—they aren’t thinking about you at all.”

“Be the adult in a world of emotional children.Be the adult in a world of emotional children.”

“[…] because that’s what great leaders do: They do the right thing, even when—especially when—it costs them.”


CHAPTER 5. The Magisterial (The Soul)

“The person who has the upper hand of their soul, the person who can go without, the person who does not fear change or discomfort or a reversal of fortune? 

This person is harder to kill and harder to defeat. They are also happier, more well-balanced, and in better shape. 

We must practice temperance now, in times of plenty, because none of us know what the future holds—only that plenty never lasts.”


“Too often, we find people choosing to be great at their profession over being a great human being, believing that success or art or fame or power must be pursued to the exclusion of all else.”


Book Review (Personal Opinion):

The book consists of three sections: the exterior (the body), the temperament (the inner realm), and the soul (the spiritual). 

Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of your life, such as your diet, exercise routine, choice of clothes, hours spent at work, hours spent sleeping, your attitude toward pleasure and opulence, and finally, your interactions with people.

It’s not so much a how-to guide as a why-to guide, with the usual historical allegories involving everyone from Lou Gehrig and Sandra Day O’Connor to Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower. 

This book is not only fascinating but also quite motivating; however, it can be repetitious at times.

In a world full of challenges, distractions, and temptations, this book explains why self-control is essential. While it may be difficult to achieve, the freedom that comes from knowing that you have complete control over your life is well worth the effort.

If you lack the self-discipline to manage your emotions, you are allowing other people or circumstances to exert undue influence over you, and as a result, you have very little control over your own life. 

Self-determination is the essence of freedom, and only we can determine whether or not it’s worth risking everything to achieve.

Rating 9/10

This Book Is For:

  • People who want to take charge of their time, and emotions.
  • People who are ambitious and want to reach their goals.
  • Those who lack self-efficiency


If You Want to Learn More

Here is a video with Ryan Holiday where he presents his book. Ryan Holiday – The Power Of Self Control (Discipline Is Destiny).

How I’ve Implemented the Ideas from The Book

When I was done with the book, I realized that self-discipline meant taking charge of one’s own life.

One of the most influential things I took away from this book was the realization that true discipline does not consist of constant effort with no rest periods in between. True self-control involves knowing when enough is enough. 

I learned to value much more my time and to really organize myself when working. I stopped sleeping until late working. 

Because as the author said, even if you want to shut yourself in your room and work until the sun goes down, you still need to take care of yourself.

This book also helped me understand how important it is to have a disciplined mind. The ability to master one’s own ideas and feelings is the foundation of true self-discipline.

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

Although self-discipline is crucial to achieving our goals, we can avoid feeling overwhelmed, especially at the beginning of this road, if we take the time to get our lives in order beforehand. 

This necessitates the maturity to choose the path that will produce the best results despite the fact that it may be less pleasant or convenient in the short term.

Working long hours may seem important at first, but research has shown that taking breaks and establishing boundaries actually increases output. 

Knowing when to rest and take care of yourself is an integral part of self-discipline, which is why doing so is just as crucial as pushing harder in the pursuit of your goals.

Discipline Is Destiny Ryan Holiday - Summary-Infographic