Discipline: The Most Critical Piece of Your Emergency Preparations By J.D.

There is a wonderful meme making the rounds on the Internet that applies to our emergency preparations. It states:

“He who lives without discipline dies without honor.”

Some claim it to either be a quote attributed to Odin, a pagan god of the Germans and Norse, or an ancient Icelandic proverb.

Similarly, if you read survivalist literature long enough, you will come across this idea: “software is more important than hardware.” I have no idea if these quotes are attributable to anyone, but I believe these ideas hold the key to becoming truly survivable in any situation.

It’s Not Enough- It’s Discipline 2.0

The key is not that you can ever do enough, know enough, or buy enough to prepare for the disasters crowding at our doors, because you can never actually anticipate what disaster will finally kick in the door. You can, however, upgrade your software by changing who you are, by becoming a different, harder, better person by embracing a life of discipline. This software upgrade, let’s call it Discipline 2.0, will save your life when the bullets, Bic lighters, and Mountain House meals run out. Discipline 2.0 will leave you with a wealth that cannot be inflated away by a partisan Federal reserve. That wealth is called honor, and honor is actually a key survival element.

Typical survival advice goes straight to discussion of skills and knowledge sets that you would need in a disaster scenario. From a pedagogical standpoint, this is backwards; you need to start with the foundation before you build the house. You want a big, beautiful, hardened homestead (full of beans, bullets, and ***band aids***amazon.com/Band-Aid-Comfort-Flex-Adhesive-Bandages-Lifestyle/dp/B001AJS1AQ, naturally). So, build a solid foundation first. You are not defined by the sum total of your skills and knowledge but by a higher principle, which we refer to as your character.


Character functions as the foundation for all the experiences, skills, and knowledge that you acquire in your life. Character determines how you apply these things. For example, you can be a highly skilled serial killer, but is that a desirable outcome? No, obviously it is not. A wise person, a person of character, will consistently do the right thing, not the wrong thing. Given the uncertainty the future poses and the risks crowding our view, I suggest that the real key to surviving an uncertain future is stepping back from the skills and starting with the foundation, with your character.

You build character by cultivating discipline in your life, and the end result is that you will have honor. My contention is that an honorable person will be more likely to survive a collapse of civility or any manner of dangerous events because of his character than because of his skills. This is because having character leads to acquiring skills. Conversely, having skills does not lead to the acquisition of character.

Unlikely to Foresee the Risk

The odds that you will accurately foresee what risk will befall you in the future are virtually nil. However, you actually don’t have to predict the future to survive it. Are the commies going to take over the White House? Will the New Madrid fault line finally slip? Will Isis, Russia, or Iran, or anyone finally sneak that nuke into New York City? Will the currency collapse? I could go on, and I’m sure you could too. You can imagine a million scenarios, and all of them could be genuine risks that we face in an uncertain future. But how do you realistically dedicate resources, such as money and time, to preparing for all of these things? You don’t, because you can’t truly anticipate these things. All you really know is that the future is likely to be:

  1. Dangerous,
  2. Hard, and
  3. Uncertain.

The Key- Controlling You

Here’s the key. You can control one thing, and you know what it is. It’s you. This is more than just a pep talk; it is practical, actionable advice. You need to start practicing discipline now, before the troubles come. Then you will have it in place when the critical moment arrives. How many times have you heard, “You won’t rise to the occasion?” I’ve heard it plenty, and it’s as true with you about your character as it is about your skill set. Increase your odds of being successful by shoring up the foundation of success– discipline. Otherwise, you will not have it when the time comes that it is most needed.

Successful Habits

Successful people have successful habits, and you need to create the habits of a successful person before you start piling up skills and gear. You have to have the discipline before you get the gear and the character before you get the training. This is a key point. If you start with all the gear and no discipline, guess where that leaves you? I’ll give you a hint. It involves pushing up daisies. If you have all the gear in the world but no discipline, then you’re just another soccer mom with a spending problem.

Flip that equation around and start with all the discipline, and you will be ready for anything. The point here is that when you cultivate this skill set to the point of it becoming a life habit, it will change you in ways that will benefit you more than you can even anticipate. It doesn’t matter what comes; you will survive it.

News About Our Ancestors

I’ve got news for you. Our ancestors survived horrors and pains beyond what you can imagine. And they did it with virtually nothing, compared to what we have access to today. No gear? Well, maybe they had a little, but here is the point. It wasn’t the tools that did it. It was the software- Discipline 1.0. They survived because they were tough, resilient, and willing to learn the skills that they found to be necessary. The gear evolved, but clearly the character was there first.


Like any deeply held skill, the key to honing and retaining it takes practice. Practice makes permanent, so, you need to start practicing discipline in your everyday life, today.

What is Discipline

Discipline is applying self-control every day, to the extent that it becomes a habit. The habit is really the key. You can practice this skill every day. You need to practice, for it to become permanent. Many people like to say, “Better to have and not need than to need and not have.” When that day of disaster comes, you’ll find a Bic lighter when you need it. However, if you don’t have discipline, you won’t find character. And, if you don’t have character, you won’t be able to adapt to the new, un-anticipated reality you find yourself in.

Make no mistake about it, you will need new skills. But how do you know what skills? Start by going deeper than mere tools, deeper than capabilities. Be a different, stronger, more resilient person. Be disciplined.

Get Practical About Developing Discipline

Let’s get practical about discipline, and talk about how you develop it. I’m going to make some simple suggestions, and I think you’ll know what to do from there. Jocko Willink, who always says, “Discipline equals freedom,” also says that “if you want to be more disciplined, be more disciplined.” He’s absolutely right, but I’m going to add some practical suggestions.

Growing or Shrinking

Discipline is a muscle, and a muscle is always either growing or shrinking. Grow this muscle by setting goals, goals you know to be necessary and useful. Then, accomplish those goals.

Actions to Improve Your Life

Here are some examples of muscle-growing acts that will improve your life now and improve your survivability in TEOTWAWKI:

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Work as hard as you can at your job.
  3. Exercise daily.
  4. Spend less time in front of the TV, and more time with your friends and neighbors.
  5. When you are tempted to tell a white lie, don’t; tell the truth instead.
  6. When you are tempted to eat donuts, don’t; eat broccoli instead.
  7. Budget money for critical training, such as first aid and shooting classes.

For example, let’s say you aren’t getting enough sleep. Set the goal of waking up at six, or five, or four, and then track your progress. If the best you can do is roll out of bed at seven thirty, then break the goal into smaller steps. Wake up five minutes earlier every day until you are waking up when you should be waking up. The same would go for going to bed on time. The key is to identify the big picture goal, such as getting enough sleep. Then, you identify the key elements of achieving that goal, such as going to bed on time and waking up on time. Finally, tracking your progress helps you to create the new habit.

Target What Needs To Change and Set Goals

The key is to target what needs to change in your life by identifying what good habits you want to invest in, and then set the micro goals that are necessary to achieve those goals. Break down the steps, then track your progress, and the end result will be the creation of this foundational trait of self-discipline that I am describing. Do not ignore the details. It won’t do you any good to be an excellent shot but fail to change the batteries in your home fire alarms. Think about that. Having discipline in small things will translate into having discipline in large things. You are creating a better, more capable version of yourself: Discipline 2.0, which will serve you well in a multitude of scenarios.


Now, let’s get to another aspect of that Old Icelandic proverb– Honor. Upgrading to Discipline 2.0 means that you can change fundamental truths about who you are as a person. This leads you to acquiring wealth in the form of honor. Honor is a form of wealth we have lost touch with in the West. However, most people throughout history, and throughout the world outside of the West, have not. Most cultures in most places have a strong foundational element of honor and shame as a form of social currency. Ours used to be this way, and much of the change we have experienced in recent generations is explained by our cultural abandonment of this form of currency. We have exchanged it for greenbacks and Euros, much to our cost, and much to our risk. To people who do not have Dollars or Euros, honor is a currency.


If anything seems clear about a world where the future is uncertain, it is that not only do you not know what skills you will need in the future, and you do not know what currency you will need either. Do you buy gold? Do you buy silver? I suggest something even more valuable– honor. Start investing in that currency and you will still have it when the value of these modern currencies begin to falter.

Honor Helps Navigate Relationships

One more note about honor; it doesn’t work alone. As with any currency, it works in the exchange. It enables you to navigate relationships. Currency is useful when you have it to spend, but you have to have some place to spend it. That is where relationships come in. Honor is something that passes between people, not something you store up for yourself, like the mythical dragon sitting on his gold. In those stories, heroes always come along to steal the gold.

Honor is only valuable when you have people to spend it on. Be a person with discipline, so you can live with honor. Honor will help you navigate relationships, so long as those relationships are in place beforehand. That is why you need to start the upgrade now, so that you can start forging ties with people who share your values and will answer the door when you come knocking.

Gold, Honor, Character, Discipline

Gold will come to the man with honor. Honor will come to the man with character. Character comes to the man with discipline. You see where I am going with this? Live with discipline, so you can have honor.

When the times get tough, and the greenbacks stop rolling off the presses, what will you have? I suggest that you need to have honor, and that you spend it liberally among your kith and kin.


I will conclude by saying that I am not trying to make a sermon out of this but a hard, scientific argument in favor of behaviors that lead to success in this world. It will also lead to success in a future world that is filled with danger, difficulty, and uncertainty. You will only survive if you have these characteristics in place beforehand. If you are person of character now, you will start to do the right thing, and you will start to prepare effectively because you will be a disciplined person, and that is just what a disciplined person does. Those disruptions are surely coming, and, therefore, much will be required of you.

Are You Ready?

Are you ready for it? Developing discipline, and, hence, character, will get you ready. You need it now, and you will need it all the more in the future, if things go sideways. The key to your success is you, and the foundation of that success is your character. So, get good character. Upgrade your software to Discipline 2.0– Live with discipline; die with honor.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


    1. I have used this thought before: our kids are third generation wusses and liberals.

      My generation was educated by recovering hippies and draft dodgers (baby boomers). My generation continued that process (Gen X).

      I work every day to teach my kids responsibility, integrity, and honor, while avoiding those words. Its a struggle, not because of my kids (they are good, decent people), but because they get their 8-hour lessons in liberalology at the local commune each day. Oldest has figured it out. My youngest is close, but still a work in progress.

      1. Different things for different ages. I remember when some of the same criticisms we make about millennials were made about gen-x.

        What I’ve noticed is that as we mature as people, we tend to “fall back” on the principles ingrained in us by those we respected in our early years. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become far more like my grandfather than any liberal college professor.

        Set the bedrock for them to stand on, and realize that sometimes they have to learn to stand on their own.

  1. As a testament to our times…
    “We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
    C.S. Lewis
    This is from CS Lewis’ The Abolition of Man written/published in 1942/1943. Consider the going-on’s of this time in history

  2. Excellent article, I will share this with my 16 year old grandson! He already has Honor and Disci pline,he just does not know it. This article may cement it in his mind. Thank you !

  3. Back in the 90’s I was on a subway when a medical emergency took place. A woman, drunk or high, dove head first into the metal bench and it opened a 4” slice on her forehead, right down to the bone. It parted and was about 1-2 inches wide. After I started basic first aid, I looked around me and saw that the subway car what was 80% full had somehow crammed themselves into the furthest section of the car, somehow fitting in about 10 square ft.

    Like my Drill Sargent , and every DS since the dawn of time has said: you never rise to your expectations, you fall to your level of training.

  4. Good article. One place to start getting honor is the BIBLE. You know that it stands for basic instructions before leaving earth. There is more honor, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom there than anywhere else. Living as our GREAT GOD wants us is living with honor and love. I agree, discipline is the key to living, and I mean living good. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. About time someone wrote an article that is not just bragging about all the fictitious “ stuff” that they have with no proof of having any of it. This article actually has honor. Thank you.



    HOO RA

  7. JD..
    Wonderful piece!
    One thing though, If left-wingers and other idiots hear that their promises of perfection through laziness and carelessness are being ridiculed, you will have hurt their feelings!
    My heart bleeds for them…

  8. Absolutely the best article I have read on Survivialblog. I screenshot it and plan to use it in lessons with my children next week. Thank you to the author.

    Be blessed.

  9. So what constitutes failure of honor or in other words a character flaw? Of course it’s easy to start with the 7 deadly sins, but how about something a little more specific? Now I want to say that I point these out because I am guilty of more than I like, but I work at improving it.

    1.Do I mock millennials, yup. Way too often.
    2. Have I ever waited for a crowd to gather around my preacher before volunteering.. yup, but I make a point of not doing it now.
    3. Have I ever put on a nice dress/suit for church because X would be there? Thank god, no on the dress 😉
    4. If donations are more than normal do I “accidentally” let the person next to me see it? Been a few times but that was a while ago.
    5. Do I deduct charity from my taxes? No, otherwise it’s not charity to me.
    6. Have I told a police officer that I wasn’t speeding when I know I was? Yup, but I have since learned that cruise control is my friend.
    7. Do I order around or talk down to people in “service” positions to make my self feel more important? No. I’ve done that kind of work, see it all the time, and I truly hate it.
    8.do I think I’m better than others because I’m more prepared than sum…. still thinking on that one, evidence supports both answers.

    Like the author points out, good character, honor, discipline can all be developed and improved on. But before any of that can take place, an honest inventory of oneself is needed.

    1. Excuse me, but did you have some reason for not capitalizing the word “God”? I have noticed that many people have stopped capitalizing the word “Bible” also.

      We capitalize the proper names of persons, places and things. God is a divine person. The word “bible” means book, but as The book, it is capitalized as “Bible.” If you say, I’m reading the Bible, no one asks what the title of the book is.

      1. Yes, and it was intentional.

        I capitalize God when I am specifically referring to God, I do not capitalize God, in a phrase such as I used it. “Thank, god” because it was used as humor in that case, and not specifically as a noun. If I capitalized it, it would have been disrespectful from my perspective. But that’s just my opinion.

  10. I’ve read this article about six or seven times, and I must say that I agree with every point made. But as a veteran, I find the examples of discipline interesting. If I were to summarize or define discipline it would be: doing crap you really don’t want to do, and no one in their right mind would do, because it’s the right thing to do.

    Here’s an example that just about everyone that’s served has gone through: standing front gate guard duty, when the locals that you are protecting, that you missed thanksgiving and Christmas with your family to protect, are waving signs, screaming baby killer, and literally spitting in your face. Discipline is: no matter how many times you have thought about it, you don’t drive the butt of your rifle into their face.

  11. R, I agree with you 100%. I am finding it harder these days of not “teaching” idiots about respect. I have taught all of my boys, and so far they do respect others and are responsible for the most part. We live in lost world, I pray for our Savior to come soon.

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