Ownership is tough. Extreme Ownership is even tougher. It is something that most of us if we’re brutally honest, don’t do very well. We live in a society that applauds and seemingly encourages blame and finger-pointing on everyone and everything other the person in the mirror. That is why this principle and the book with the same name is so vital today. (Be sure to watch the short TED Talk below by co-author, Jocko Willink. You will be captivated and inspired by what he has to say.)
The book, Extreme Ownership, is written by former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. In it, these American heroes relate their stories and many of the lessons they have learned and demonstrate how this principle of Extreme Ownership is invaluable in all of life and business.
While there are many takeaways that could be pointed out, I want to focus this short blog post on just 3 key lessons that are absolutely essential and can change how you approach life and business every day.
3 Key Lessons of Extreme Ownership
Lesson #1: You are to blame.
Sounds harsh already, doesn’t it? But it’s true. Extreme Ownership is harsh in the best way possible. It requires that, rather than directing blame to everyone around you or on the circumstances you’re in (which is what most people do), it is focused on you. Extreme Ownership is not for the faint of heart. But it is this principle that has the power to make all great teams, individuals, families, or organizations, elite.
Consider your own life for a minute. How are things going in your business, marriage, finances, or other key areas of life? When you search for answers make sure that you take Extreme Ownership and start with you. This is where the buck stops. But it’s also where greatness is forged.
Lesson #2: It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.
Most of us preach a good game. We know what needs to be done and we are good at letting others know what they need to do. But what we learn in Extreme Ownership is that it’s not what you preach, but what you tolerate, that makes the biggest difference.
As a dad, I see this principle (or the lack thereof) at work in our home. We are continually guiding and parenting our children to learn what is required or expected. We talk and explain ourselves too often have to repeat ourselves over and over. Sound familiar? As I read this book, it dawned on me how much Lesson #1 is the starting point but how Lesson #2 is so true to why we have to repeat our directions so often. We tolerate “substandard performance” (to use Jocko’s words). We allow this long enough and the end result is having to repeat what we preach too many times.
Do you see this at work in your life, business, or any other areas? Maybe it’s not what you’re saying but what you’re tolerating.
Lesson #3: There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
In the book, Jocko and Leif tell a story of the infamous Hell Week at BUD/S training. They describe a situation where two teams were worlds apart in performance. One team won almost every competition while the other was the perpetual loser. After some time, the SEAL instructors wanted to see what would happen by simply switching the team leader of each team.
You can probably guess the result.
In the next competition, with new leadership, the losing team miraculously found themselves competing and winning. Why? An elite leader made all of the difference. Instead of believing that the odds were stacked against him this leader believed in his teammates. He didn’t make excuses and he rallied his team.
Many teams fail simply because they lacked a leader. With Extreme Ownership, teams win when everyone involved focuses on the greater mission and not on themselves. This is the essence of great leaders, great teams, and people who embrace the essential principles of Extreme Ownership.
Which of these 3 Key Lessons stands out most to you? Where do you need to implement Extreme Ownership in your life?
Learn more about Jocko and Leif and their organization, Echelon Front.
Do yourself a favor and watch Jocko in this TED Talk. It is powerful and worth hearing him speak on this topic in his own words.