Overlooked for a promotion? Maybe you didn’t work hard enough to earn it. Bad grade on a test? You should have studied more. Extreme Ownership means that you are responsible for every decision you make during 86,400 seconds of the day (or 57,600 seconds if you sleep 8 hours at night). Adults today are phenomenal at passing the blame for their mistakes. The food you eat, the workout you skip, the speed you drive, your attitude and the words you choose – all of those decisions are made by you.
Applying Extreme Ownership to your daily routine has immediate results. It provides a foundation of strength and control for your most basic decisions, actions and tasks. It is also incredibly humbling because your personal failings are blatantly obvious and you are forced to deal with your weakness swiftly and directly. There is no one else to blame.
The life-altering concept of Extreme Ownership is created by Jocko Willink. He is a successful author, speaker, mentor and leadership and management consultant who has inspired millions to change the way they live their life. As a former Navy Seal, he draws on the valuable skills learned throughout his long and decorated career. His book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win, co-authored with Leif Babin, contains powerful concepts that have real-life applications in all facets of life.
Jocko outlines his experiences with Extreme Ownership in war and in business. His examples truly illustrate the importance and the value of taking control and assuming full responsibility at all times. For me, the lesson of Extreme Ownership occurred in a military context as well. In its simplest form, I learned my lesson on a mortar range. (A mortar is a metal tube with a base plate that you slide an explosive device into. When the device touches the bottom of the tube, it is propelled into the air. It is a very basic weapon but very effective and deadly accurate with a good mortar team.) During a standard training session, something went wrong and lives were endangered unnecessarily. In the end, I accepted full responsibility for all of the minor mis-steps that led to a very major situation. The experience was humbling but it was also the only possible outcome. My interactions with my team members and my chain of command had always been based on trust. And through all of the fallout after the event, the trust remained because of the action of Extreme Ownership.
In business, or in life, this direct approach sets a good leader apart. In a team setting, the successes and failures ultimately become those of the leader. The criticism and harsh reviews, as well as the search for the solution are a leader’s sole responsibility. But by leading with this approach, it sets an example to others and creates a baseline of openness, honesty and trust. By eliminating the habit of passing blame, the team is able to direct its performance towards its mission.
When it comes to Extreme Ownership in your life, remember this: YOU are responsible for your actions, thoughts and expectations. Stop pointing fingers and OWN THAT SHIT.