Many of you may be familiar with Jocko Willink; the incredibly disciplined ex-Navy SEAL who makes you feel lazy for not waking up at 0430 every morning.
If you aren't, check him out on Instagram (@jockowillink). To say that Jocko is productive would be an understatement.
He has a wildly popular podcast, a consulting company, multiple best selling books, a supplement brand, a clothing brand (Origin Maine) and by the time this article is posted will probably have another source of income.
While we can't speak to his other products or services (other than the podcast which is informative and sobering) we highly recommend the book below.
Jocko's original work, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win should be on every Marine's reading list, regardless of rank.
The lessons inside apply equally well to the civilian world, as corporate structures often mimic the military chain of command.
And for the individual outside the military or a large corporation, the fundamental mindset of owning your circumstances has only positive implications.
Extreme Ownership is essentially a mindset of responsibility that does not change no matter how easy it is to blame others.
It is grounded in leadership, both up and down the chain of command.
For example, if you are a Lieutenant and your Marines fail to perform a task, it is your responsibility to take ownership of the situation. A bad leader would simply blame it on those below him, which is exactly the opposite of extreme ownership.
A good officer blames himself for not communicating the task clearly or training his men better, and seeks to correct it for next time. That is leading down the chain of command.
Leading up the chain of command would come into play if you are a Lieutenant, and your commanding officer treats you or your platoon unfairly. While a bad leader would simply blame it on the boss, a good leader takes ownership.
You as a Lieutenant could have done a better job of fostering a strong relationship with your commanding officer. Did you ever meet with him one-on-one and provide suggestions for how you could better accomplish the mission?
Maybe you need to do a better job as a platoon commander, and show the CO that you are ready for more responsibility. That is taking ownership and leading up the chain of command.
Each chapter in Extreme Ownership begins with an example from the SEALs, whether in training or in combat, that Jocko uses to impart a lesson.
From there, the lesson is extrapolated to a broader business or personal application.
In the chapter titled "Prioritize and Execute," Jocko's co-author and fellow Navy SEAL Leif Babin writes about a rapidly deteriorating combat situation, in which multiple urgent problems presented themselves all at once.
As the title suggests, the only effective course of action is to step back, calm down, itemize what needs to be done, prioritize, and execute.
The chapter explains why it worked and what happened in the combat situation, and then provides an example of flailing pharmaceutical company spread too thin. With Jocko serving as their consultant, the CEO was able to focus on the single most important initiative, rather than focusing on all of them ineffectively.
With the successful completion of one task, the CEO moved on to another as the company gained traction and momentum.
Extreme Ownership shines despite the fact that the lessons within it are not particularly original. What distinguishes it is the clarity of the writing, the concrete examples, and the broad applications between war and business.
If you are looking for a no-nonsense book on leadership, full of real world examples from Ramadi to silicon valley, Extreme Ownership is for you.
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