Blaming others is the easiest shit there is!
It’s so darn easy to make excuses, pass blame and tell yourself that it is not your fault. However, if you take this attitude you’ll never grow as a person and you’ll be doomed to stay stuck at your current level…
And that’s exactly why you should read this summarization of Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. In this book summary, I’ll teach you 7 important lessons and key takeaways I picked up from the book.
While the concepts I’ll teach you here are powerful, they are not a replacement for the actual book! The elaborations and stories (the authors are US Navy Seals, so expect thrilling ones) will make way more impact than any book summary ever could!
Grab a copy for yourself on Amazon.
What Does Extreme Ownership Mean?
Let’s start with the definition of extreme ownership:
“Extreme Ownership is having the mindset that there is nobody else to blame. That there are no excuses to be made. You are responsible for everything that is relevant to your mission, even things outside of your direct control!”
So, what does this really mean and how do you apply this to your life?
What Jacko and Leif mean by this is to man the fuck up and take responsibility!
It’s ALL on you!
When you take on this attitude, you’ll experience growth!
Blaming someone or something else relieves you of all responsibility. It makes it so that you don’t have to seek fault in yourself, and it completely robs you of 2 things:
- Learning from your mistakes.
- Getting better outcomes.
Let’s Look at an Example
Let’s say you’re an elementary school teacher, and you do your best to make sure that your students are being polite, have good manners and show respect. You do everything you can to encourage good behavior and dissuade bad behavior.
That’s your direct area of control.
But, there’s an issue…
During recess, your kids play together with the other class of the same grade, which has a teacher that isn’t reinforcing these same values. And so, they take on some rudeness and swear words.
Most people would blame the other teacher because it’s “not in my control”, but not when you follow the Extreme Ownership principles! Your mission is important to you, so it’s your job to take care of it!
It could be something as simple as sitting down with the other teacher and talking about the issue. Make them see why it’s important for the children to be taught these values.
That’s the difference!
The whiny “I can’t help it” philosophy completely prevents you from taking the actions you need to take to get shit done!
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is on you! Even the actions of other people! In that case, it’s your job to make them understand the importance, and empower them to do things right!
There Are No Bad Teams Only Bad Leaders
The above goes hand in hand with the second principle of Extreme Ownership.
It’s never your team that is to blame!
Note: Team can be anything in this situation. It could be a team you manage at work, it could be a sports team, it could be your children, it could be a study group at school, etc.
The same principle applies here:
The moment you start thinking that your team is to blame, to think that if you had better people working with you, then the project would go way smoother or there wouldn’t be any problems!
That’s faulty thinking!
As a leader, coach, or parent, it is your job to make sure the tasks get done correctly! You need to lead them to be better!
The Principle at Work
There is a powerful example that Jacko and Leif share in their book.
During training, they have what they call “Hell Week”, which is exactly what it sounds like… it’s grueling!
In order to have extra motivation, they turn it into a competition.
The students are divided into groups and they race against each other as they complete their tasks. With rewards for the winners and punishment for the losers of each race.
And they noticed something peculiar:
In one of the groups there was 1 team that would consistently come out on top, while another team consistently lost every race.
That’s when they did an experiment:
They called the leaders of both teams over and told them to switch teams. So the winning team leader would lead the losing team and vice versa.
Guess what happened?
The next race the “losing” team suddenly got 1st place!
With more competent leadership you will be able to get the most out of the team, help them understand why certain things need to be done in a specific way and make sure that everything goes smoothly!
The team that got the “bad” leader didn’t drop off much. These 2 teams often kept on competing with each other for first place. The other team members learned from their first leader and were able to show leadership of their own as well.
Here’s why it’s important:
At your job, it is not just the manager that leads the team. As a member of the team, it’s also on you to make decisions and step up as a leader within your area.
You can’t make high-level decisions of course, but there are always ways in which you can make the team better!
The Best Way to Get Respect
This is a simple lesson, but many people fall victim to this.
Just ask yourself:
Who do you respect more?
Is it the person who stands up, and openly admits that he/she made a mistake and how they will make sure it doesn’t happen again? Or would you respect the one who blames others instead?
It’s so fucking simple…
And yet, many people are afraid to admit that they made a mistake because they fear they’ll be punished or lose respect. But it’s way better to stop being a snowflake and own your mistakes!
And you’ll see the opposite happen!
Instead of losing respect you’ll gain it, and you’ll often be praised more because people can tell that while you make mistakes (we all do by the way) you are the one who learns from them and does better the next time!
Making mistakes is important, but you need to only make the same mistake once!
Ego Is One of the Biggest Enemies of Growth
Ego can be a great motivator in some cases.
When someone is concerned with their ego, they’ll do their best to make sure they live up to the expectations and image that they have about themselves.
However, ego can be pure evil!
When ego gets too big, people start to think that they are so great that they know everything, that they don’t have to listen to others because they know better as well as other bullshit!
It blocks all self-assessment capabilities!
Because of ego people often fail to see their flaws, think they know everything and then stop growing. They stop learning, get complacent and not work on becoming a better person!
Your ego is one of the first things to take ownership of!
Get it out of your way!
Start With the Why
This is both important in leadership as well as your personal life.
In your personal life, you need to have a strong why. Because if you don’t know why you’re doing something, you’re likely to quit when problems inevitably arise!
Your reason why becomes your lifeline for hanging on!
As a leader, there is another challenge:
In order for people to do their jobs well, there needs to be respect, as well as trust and understanding. If those things aren’t there, people won’t have faith in you, making work both unpleasant as well as ineffective.
Again, this is where a reason why is important as well.
You can give orders, and people will probably carry them out, but if you let them see the bigger picture, the reasons why you do things a certain way, they’ll now be able to understand and get the meaning of the tasks.
The same goes for raising your kids, as well as any kind of coaching.
There’s another benefit to this as well:
If you can make people understand the reasoning behind why you do certain things, the team’s values and the ultimate goals, that’s when you can empower them to be more autonomous and make decisions on their own.
Note that this goes both ways:
As a manager or leader, you need to make the people who work with you understand why things work a certain way. If you’re the one being managed, you need to inquire about the important things if they don’t tell you yourself.
Be Decisive Under Uncertainty
You’ll almost never have all the answers!
In life as well as in business there are situations that are unfamiliar to you.
People often struggle with these kinds of situations, because people don’t want to fail (you should fail more by the way, you’ll learn faster). Since they don’t have all the information, they freeze up because they don’t know the right action to take.
This brings many problems including procrastination, loss of self-confidence, crippling doubt, and problems can become way bigger if you don’t respond to them!
So, what’s the solution?
Even though you don’t have all the answers, you need to make a choice and you need to be decisive in doing so! Especially if you lead other people.
Use your best judgment.
Yes, you might end up making the wrong mistakes sometimes. That’s part of life! But then again, those mistakes are what help you grow and get to your next level!
Here’s the important part to note:
In important situations, you need to stay calm and rational. Think about your goals and the main strategy. That should be your guiding light, rather than getting stuck thinking about smaller tactics.
Think about the bigger picture and what actions get you moving forward.
A Few Decision-Making Frameworks
If you’re not sure whether to pull the trigger or something ask yourself this:
If I pull the trigger and things don’t work out, how much would I regret it? And then ask yourself the same question for the case where you don’t pull the trigger and things don’t work out.
Pick the one with the least regret.
That’s just one framework.
Another thing you can do is think about reversibility.
Let say you want to be an influencer.
You could pull the trigger, live on your saving and start full time by quitting your job. Another option would be to keep your job and start your business on the side.
If things don’t work out, the second option is easily reversible.
When going the first route, you’re burning some bridges which means that that decision isn’t easily reversible.
That’s not a 100% decision maker, but when choosing between options, the ones that are reversible typically have the edge over those that are not, because there’s less risk if things don’t work out.
The key point here is to train your decision-making skill, just like you would train in the gym. Analyze the facts you have, use your best judgment and make the call you think is best at that moment.
Discipline Equals Freedom
Seems like a paradox, doesn’t it?
We often associate discipline with hard work and doing things even when you don’t really want to do them. We associate freedom with doing the things that you love and really want to do.
So, how does discipline equal freedom?
First, I want you to think of the areas where you don’t have freedom right now. Whether it’s time, relationships, health, finance, work, etc. What are those areas for you.
Now, the important question:
How disciplined have you been in improving these areas?
Chances are, not very disciplined or not for a long time!
Let’s take finance as an example.
If you want to have the financial freedom, how do you get that?
Firstly, you need to have the discipline to set aside part of your income, nothing less than 10% to really make an impact. You need to have the discipline to study how to invest and to actually invest consistently.
Next, you need the discipline to not take the money you have invested out.
See how that works?
Whenever you want to get freedom in any area of your life, you need to have discipline. Being disciplined over a longer period of time is what will allow you to reach your goals and have that freedom!
If you don’t have what you want, you need to be more disciplined to get it!
Is Extreme Ownership Worth Reading?
So, who should read Extreme Ownership?
There are a few categories of people:
Firstly, if you’re in business, or you have a position where you lead other people (like a management role), Extreme Ownership is a must read for you! It will teach you the leadership principles you need to help your team or business grow.
The second category is parents.
You’re not going to drill your kids as if you’re drilling US Navy Seals, but a lot of the Extreme Ownership principles will apply to parenting as well, like getting your kids to understand WHY they need to do something.
Then there are coaches of any kind.
This could be you coaching a youth team at your local sports club as well as professional coaches in any kind of environment. You’ll learn a lot about leadership and responsibility.
And finally, perhaps the biggest group:
If you take an honest look at yourself and know that you have been blaming others or your circumstances for your situation and downfalls, this is definitely the book for you!
It’s time to take full ownership of everything regarding your goals!
And that brings us to the end of this Extreme Ownership book summary!
Click here to order the book today to continue your education and fully immerse yourself into the concepts and lessons that I have shared with you here.
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