If you haven’t heard of Jocko Willink before, he is a bad-ass retired Navy Seal Commander who fought in the Iraq war. Now he is the host of a podcast, has the best soundtrack on Spotify when you just need a good kick-up-the-butt to get off your butt and has written a series of books for both adults and kids.
The only book of his I have read so far is called Extreme Ownership but I do intend on reading the rest very soon (even the one I gifted to my little sister called Way of the Warrior Kid). While the book does talk about other interesting topics such as Leadership, Checking the Ego, the Why Game and just some fascinating war stories, everything comes back to ‘Extreme Ownership’.
What is Extreme Ownership?
Extreme Ownership is taking responsibility for everything in your own world. Once you take away any externalities, excuses and take responsibility, everything falls into your own hands and you then have the power to change it.
Here how it is explained in the book:
As individuals, we often attribute the success of others to luck or circumstance and make excuses for our own failures and the failures of our team. We blame our own poor performance on bad luck, circumstances beyond our control, or poorly performing subordinates – anyone but ourselves. Total responsibility for failure is a difficult thing to accept, and taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage. But doing just that is an absolute necessity to learning, growing as a leader, and improving a team’s performance.
Extreme Ownership – Applications
I have found necessary applications of this concept in so many areas of life in recent months. From business hierarchies to personal tasks to even football! So many times teams have lost and provided excuses such as bad refereeing decisions, injuries, tactics, the heat, the cold, the list goes on.
Apply extreme ownership and suddenly it turns from ‘we lost because the referee made a bad decision in the last minute’ to ‘we should have been so far ahead that any bad referee decision wouldn’t have affected us winning’. Taking responsibility puts the ball in your court, which I have found to be extremely liberating and the perfect catalyst for improvement.
As much as I love the concept of Extreme Ownership, I would also advise not swinging too far in the other direction. I sometimes fall into this trap if I’m not careful. Take responsibility for things that you know you can take control of and make better, but don’t start beating yourself up over someone else’s problem or something that is out of your control. Sure, if a loved one is suffering you can offer your hand to help and try to guide them. But ultimately that is not your burden to bare.