People who know me are sick of hearing about the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE). I listen to a number of podcasts, which vary from comedy to drama to educational to, of course, the martial arts. Other than articles, podcasts are the largest source of media that I consume. JRE is a show that I absolutely love because Joe brings in a multitude of guests – some that I disagree with, some that I can’t listen to, and some that I love. The majority of the shows are very entertaining, and a number of them are downright motivational. Enter Jocko Willink, a retired Navy seal, Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt, and, now, leadership consultant at Echelon Front. Joe and Jocko sat down for three hours of discussion, and it inspired me. In a year full of excellent podcasts – Hardcore History, WTF with Marc Maron, Serial, a Joe Rogan Experience with Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson together, Robin Black’s Mentality of Combat Sports – this was the best of the year.
I wasn’t prepared for Mr. Willink’s podcast. The expectation was to be entertained and to learn some new stuff, but as the time passed, I found myself nodding more and more with Jocko’s words. While I didn’t agree with everything he said, I could see why he reached the conclusions he did. That is a roundabout way of saying that he came across as a man who thinks before he speaks. His thoughtfulness is most evident in his philosophy of leadership. While being nuanced and well developed, his approach is an earned philosophy, one that was tested in the harsh reality of combat. In his discussion with Joe, Mr. Willink was able to translate those lessons from actions into words and then into general concepts that are applicable for any leader. This is a difficult task, but Mr. Willink and his partner wrote Extreme Ownership, which even has a lesson right in the title. Take ownership of actions.
Being in the corporate world, I’ve heard the words lead, leader, and leadership more times than I can count. The sad reality is that most people don’t know how to lead effectively. For some, it’s assumed that leadership is a natural ability ingrained from birth, but the best leaders that I’ve worked with had a style rooted in experience rather than ability. Naturally, leadership will vary as everything in life varies, but I most admire those who lead from experience and lead as a team member. Jocko’s thoughts on this were clear and concise. The leader is part of the team and not above it, and in his opinion, a good leader takes responsibility. This lesson is one that seems obvious but is rarely enacted. So, it was not only refreshing to hear it, but it was bold for Jocko to give examples. I’m looking forward to reading his and Mr. Babin’s book; I know it’s full of good lessons as evidenced by this quote from the Business Insider article A retired Navy SEAL commander explains 12 traits all effective leaders must have:
“A leader must exercise Extreme Ownership. Simultaneously, that leader must employ Decentralized Command.”
“Extreme Ownership” is the fundamental concept of Willink and Babin’s leadership philosophy. It means that for any team or organization, “all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader,” Willink writes. Even when leaders are not directly responsible for all outcomes, it was their method of communication and guidance, or lack thereof, that led to the results.
That doesn’t mean, however, that leaders should micromanage. It’s why the concept of decentralized command that Willink and Babin used in the battlefield, in which they trusted that their junior officers were able to handle certain tasks without being monitored, translates so well to the business world.
After my second listen of this podcast, I started following Jocko on Twitter, and that alone is motivational. The man GETS. AFTER. IT. He’s pushing iron while I’m still in la-la land dreaming of my next footwork article. If you need motivation, go there and follow him. Trust me. You’ll be inspired to get moving and start improving. (Rhyme shamelessly intended.) All of this is to say that you should listen to this podcast. It is without a doubt worth your time. Listen to it, listen to it again, get motivated. Read the book.
You can buy his book by clicking on the picture or by following this link.
And, if you’re wondering, no, I do not get any money for referring you to Amazon. I think this is a book that’s worth supporting.