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Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

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The #1 New York Times bestseller Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership―at every level―is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields. Now, detailing the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment. A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership revolutionizes business management and challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate lead and win.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published October 20, 2015

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Jocko Willink

43 books2,457 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,826 reviews
Profile Image for Lorilin.
757 reviews241 followers
August 25, 2015
Extreme Ownership is written by two former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, who now head a leadership training company. Both men are pretty hardcore, I must admit. The experiences they share in this book are intense and eye-opening--not to mention unique. There aren't many books out there that give such detailed glimpses into the lives of SEALs in action.

The book is structured in a very basic and clear way. The authors convey one main point per chapter by sharing a story from their battlefield experiences, then highlighting the main principle of that story, and finally giving a concrete example of how this principle applies in business settings.

Their main points can be summarized as follows:

(*) The leader is always responsible. (This is what they call "extreme ownership." Basically, leaders must always "own" the mistakes and shortcomings of their teams.)
(*) Everyone on the team must believe in the mission.
(*) Work with other teams to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
(*) Keep plans simple, clear, and concise.
(*) Check your ego.
(*) Figure out your priorities, and then act on them one at a time.
(*) Clarify your mission (i.e., your plan).
(*) Engage with your higher-ups; keep them in the loop--especially when they frustrate you.
(*) Act decisively, even when things are chaotic.
(*) And the last chapter is a summary of the seemingly contradictory qualities of a leader.

In my opinion, the simplicity, clarity, and structure of this book are it's greatest strengths. I knew exactly where the authors were going with their points, and I understood exactly the message they were trying to communicate. The book is incredibly easy to follow.

I do have two minor complaints. First, Extreme Ownership was really repetitive at parts. I noticed there were several moments when the authors shared a complete story or personal thought--and then shared the story again, but this time in the context of telling it to either their SEAL teams or to a group of business executives. It got a little tedious. If I hear the story once, I don't need another play-by-play, no matter how interesting it was the first time around.

Second, while this book is very descriptive--especially with the battle scenes--it is also incredibly restrained, almost cold. There is basically no emotion in this book--which feels weird, because even though it's a book about leadership, it's also a book about war, too. If you are going to aim to teach me something through your intense and sometimes tragic experiences, well then let's get into it. I'm not looking for manufactured drama, but you don't have to scrub it all clean for me, either. Ultimately, I ended up feeling like the authors didn't trust me enough with the whole story. And I wanted more than that.

Still, I appreciated what Willink and Babin had to share. Their lessons are insightful and thought-provoking, and I can definitely see how their experiences will help guide leaders in the business world. Extreme Ownership is a worthwhile read, yes--but also a somewhat muted one. Take it for what it is.
Profile Image for Brian.
644 reviews247 followers
January 10, 2016
(3.5) Little formulaic and contrived business cases, I enjoyed the demonstration of leadership principles in military setting

The structure of this book is interesting: each chapter is a particular principle that great/extreme leaders demonstrate with three sub-parts:
* military (often combat) narrative demonstrating the principle (this is the meat, ~75%, of each chapter)
* quick summary of the principle and why it's relevant in combat
* short, somewhat generic narrative showing principle in a business context, ostensibly from authors' consulting experience
- almost always includes a, "back in Iraq, we couldn't do X, we had to do Y" and a "really?"
- the executives always come around in a paragraph or two, making it feel contrived
- these were a lot less convincing than the military narratives I thought (though perhaps to someone from the armed forces, they may sound generic, contrived too?)

The lessons are good ones:

* extreme ownership (you own everything that goes wrong, especially when it's the fault of someone in your organization)
* no bad teams, only bad leaders (your teams are probably made of good people, if you have a bad leader, however, they can underperform)
* believe (you must understand and believe in the larger mission behind a decision in order to lead others. Ask if you don't believe)
* check the ego (it's about team success, not you being right or receiving credit)
* cover and move (teams must work together with teamwork; no rivalries, competition, finger-pointing)
* simple (keep it simple)
* prioritize and execute (what is most important thing to decide or do? do that first, then move to the next thing; don't paralyze by doing many things at once)
* decentralized command (you can really only manage about 6 people: larger organizations need decision-makers below you)
* plan (have a repeatable planning process)
* leading up and down the chain of command (give information up to help your leaders trust you; convey big picture to the chain below you so they believe and can operate with decentralized command)
* decisiveness and uncertainty (be decisive with the data you have when you need a decision--not deciding is a decision, often not the right one)
Profile Image for David Huff.
153 reviews47 followers
December 30, 2017
I don't remember how I first ran across Jocko Willink on the internet, but visiting him on Twitter has become a daily motivational fix for me. Here's a man who was a Navy SEAL for 20 years, including combat experience in Iraq, and service as a Navy SEAL instructor. The man is a BEAST, posting videos (after rising to workout around 4:30 am each day, and taking snapshots of his watch) to motivate you to Get After It and do the same!

One of the phrases he's known for, which at first seems paradoxical, is "Discipline Equals Freedom". You'll discover why, and much more, in "Extreme Ownership" - one of the best motivational books I've ever read. He and co-author Leif Babin relate one of their actual battlefield experiences in each chapter, and then craft leadership lessons and applications for business, personal achievement, and most any other area of life. One of the strong takeaways, for any leader, is that a leader must embrace and take ownership of everything their team does -- including mistakes. As Jocko often says, "there are no bad teams; just bad leaders".

This book will inspire you, and challenge you -- and if you're open and ready, it will change you!

Profile Image for Theoderik Trajanson.
87 reviews35 followers
April 8, 2016
The Big Idea: Leaders Must Own Everything in Their World, There is No One Else to Blame

- A team leader does not take credit for his or her team's successes but bestows the honor on a subordinate team leader and team members.

- Take personal responsibility for your failures. And mean it. You'll come out the other side stronger than ever before.

- When it comes to performance standards, it's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate.

- Repeat important points for emphasis.

- Team members don't need to agree with a strategy but they need to understand its 'why' and buy into it.

- Leaders need to buy into a plan 100%. They need to acknowledge that the plan is part of a mission greater than themselves and their interests.

- Front line and junior leaders never have as clear an understanding of the strategic picture as the senior leaders may anticipate. Time must be taken to answer questions and share the 'why' of strategy.

- Subordinates have the obligation to reach out and ask if they do not understand. They must find out how and why the decisions are being made. BE PROACTIVE IN THIS.

- As a leader, you must believe in the mission. Failure to do so is unacceptable.

- Never let ego get in the way.

- Never get complacent, that is where controlling the ego is most important.

- When subordinates make a mistake, YOU take responsibility for *their* error and mean it.

- Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. When too complex, people may not understand them.

- Commands must be communicated in a manner that is simple, clear, and concise. Everyone who is part of the mission must understand his or her role in the mission and what to do in the event or likely contingencies.

- If your team does not understand, it is your responsibility and you have failed. You did not present in a way that is simple.

- Leaders must take the time to encourage questions and the understanding of their team

- Prioritize and Execute.

- Humans are generally incapable of managing more than 6-10 people.

- Junior leaders must push new insights of situational awareness, those that effect the bigger picture, up the chain of command.

- Building block teams are 4-6 man teams with a leader.

- Junior leaders must be empowered to make decisions and take initiative on behalf of the mission.

- Give clear guidance and establish boundaries.

- No matter how exhausted, always have a post mission briefing. Cover:
- What went right
- What went wrong
- How can we adapt our tactics to be even more effective to increase our advantage over the enemy.

- Constantly improve.

A Leader's Planning Checklist Should Include:
- Analyze the mission.
- Understand the higher headquarter's mission, commander's intention, end state, and goal.
- Identify and state your own commander's intent and end state for the specific mission.
- Identify personnel, assets, resources and time available.
- Decentralize the planning process. Empower key leaders within the team to analyze possible courses of action.
- Determine a specific course of action.
- Lean towards accepting the simplest course of action.
- Focus efforts on the best course of action.
- Empower key leaders to develop a plan for the selected course of action.
- Plan for likely contingencies through each phase of the operation.
- Mitigate risk that can't be controlled as much as possible.
- Delegate portions of the plan, and brief to key junior leaders.
- Stand back, and be the Tactical Genius.
- Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure its still fits the situation.
- Brief the plan to all participants and supporting assets.
- Emphasize commander's intent, ask questions, and engage in discussion and interaction with the team to ensure that they understand.
- Conduct post-operational debrief after execution. Analyze lessons learned and implement them in future planning.

- Actively avoid and combat an us vs them mentality against higher-management.

- There is never a 100% right decision. Leaders must be able to act through uncertainty

- As a leader, don't tolerate an us vs. them mentality against other elements of the team.

- A leader's team knows that the leader cares for their well being.
108 reviews1 follower
June 23, 2016
Very repetitive and a slow read. At times, it read like a textbook that felt the need to point out the same principles over and over again. The format didn't really work for me either. Every chapter tells a story about the authors' time spent fighting in Iraq (both were Navy Seals). Then, they basically spell out in very simple terms what they were just trying to teach you as if you can't glean the information yourself. After that, they tell a story about a business that coincidentally had the exact same problem they faced in war. So, you're force fed the same concept throughout every chapter. I took a chance on this book and got burned. However, I'll take extreme ownership and admit that it's my fault that I read Extreme Ownership.
Profile Image for Kate.
14 reviews3 followers
May 15, 2016
This book wasn't saying anything new or different from all the other management/life improvement books. Take responsibility. Manage from the bottom up (the latest and greatest way of management). I couldn't physically read it and had to listen to audiobook to even be able to focus. Even then it was difficult because the reading was so dramatic. I had to speed it up a bunch to not deal with the dramatic pauses and slow speech.
Profile Image for Siah.
96 reviews29 followers
May 3, 2019
I finally understood why the trillions of dollars that we have poured into the US military has failed. The whole book is about how mismanaged the Iraq war was. The authors constantly bring up dumb examples that could have been totally avoided had there been some basic planning. In one instant, they plow through a city to capture a house as an outpost and observation tower only to realize the house doesn’t have a window overlooking the main road that they needed to watch. They essentially tell you that the most modern satellite system, all of those drones and helicopters, could not check the windows prior to risking the lives of hundred US soldiers in the mission. All I got is that if you express dumb ideas with conviction, you can write a best selling book. Don’t get your management advice from jocks and save your staff their sanity.
Profile Image for Suz.
763 reviews47 followers
June 5, 2018
One of my biggest issues with Goodreads's scale is that the scale (if you actually pay attention) is skewed in a positive manner. The discussion re: the scale has been beaten to death, but I remember one thing that kept coming up was that it should be more positive, because why in the world would you read a book you hated? Apparently these people had never been to school. Or been thrust into book club at work with a director who idolizes the military.

I wish I could go further than 1 star. i wish I could give it negative a thousand stars. I hate this book. I hate this book *almost* as much as another management book that shall not be named.

We just got our next book and literally, the management group mockingly discussed how we should really enjoy the next book because nobody would get their ya-yas from killing and there might be 100% less shooting.

In the end, I read the first full 5 chapters, and then changed how I was reading this book because I would get a paragraph in and then find something, anything else to do. So I skimmed the first part of the chapter, read the Principle, and then maybe skimmed the Application section. It went much better. I didn't DNF this book because I spent more time on it than books I actually like and want to count it towards my totals.

This book is blazingly sexist and misogynistic; the arrogance that permeated every paragraph was mind blowingly bad. One paragraph in particular was so sexist that we had a near riot in our group over the "lesson" that needed to be learned. There is just so much of that privilege and toxic masculinity as entertainment that it's ridiculous. The book is actually part military memoir, part cheese-ball “lesson” and isn't particularly well written.

Each chapter is structured as a lesson:
Part 1: Military storytime, let’s get our rah rahs off on killing/shooting things and/or people.
Part 2: Principle to be learned
Part 3: Contrived (maybe it’s real, it’s hard to say, but it sure feels fake) example from some business thing. All of the lessons are valid; but all of the lessons can be learned through a decent HR program, blog, podcast, or decently written books.

To save you the pain, here's the breakdown:

Chapter 1: Accepting responsibility as the leader for the organizations
Chapter 2: No bad teams, only bad leaders
Chapter 3: In order to inspire others to follow and accomplish, leader must believe
Chapter 4: Checking your ego, for the work, org, and “mission” at large
Chapter 5: Teamwork, everyone on the team is important.
Chapter 6: Keep it simple (stupid), clarify and communicate.
Chapter 7: Prioritize and execute; possibly the only chapter I didn’t totally hate
Chapter 8: Decentralized command; empowering leaders of smaller units, because people can only effectively manage 6-10 people at a time.
Chapter 9: Understanding/Defining the mission and establishing a planning process.
Chapter 10: Leading down the chain - leadership needs to communicate down to their subordinates so that they clearly understand their roles/jobs; Leading Up the Chain - making sure that you engage with your leaders and communicate your needs to them as well.
Chapter 11: Being decisive in the face of an incomplete picture.
Chapter 12: "Dichotomy of Leadership" isn't a strict lesson, but the idea that a leader shouldn't be extreme.

And for a bonus, this is the excerpt where I quit taking this book seriously:

“… rooftop right next to me, shooting and directing fire. The SEAL just beside him unloaded two full hundred-round belts through his machine gun, spewing spent shell casings across the rooftop that bounced with a metallic clink. Everyone was shooting, having a hell of a time. There was much laughter as guys unloaded what was clearly a ridiculous amount of gunfire at the enemy.”
maybe this isn't the audience for ya talking about getting your rocks off killing people... maybe.
Profile Image for Mart.
94 reviews9 followers
November 14, 2015
It's one of the best non-academic management books that I've ever read.

The book is very straightforward and practical, presenting 7-8 core management principles, each with one real life example both from combat and business. These principles are not some esoteric or academic philosphy but very practical and actionable behaviour patterns and methods.

One example: "Prioritize and execute". In a complex and stressful situation, one should not address all problems simultaneously but instead determine the most urgent and imporant component, solve that with maximum rigor, then pick and solve the next component, and then the next, until the situation is solved.

The book could be accused of triviality - yet it's usually the simple things why people fuck up, not complex things. Btw, simplicity is also one of the book's core principles.
Profile Image for Liza Fireman.
839 reviews144 followers
June 7, 2018
I am a huge believer that leadership and management makes it or breaks it. It builds people, it enables them, it empowers them. If done right, it is outstanding. People are happy, and take ownership and initiative, mentorship is happening, product is becoming outstanding and then managers/leaders can be proud of their achievements, and new leaders grow. I can spend hours, days and weeks talking about leadership. That's my job and my passion.
Well, here I didn't find it. I found a very military type of approach. Maybe not surprisingly. The leader/commander is everything. The single person and everybody else need to follow. Amazing leadership is not about making everyone follow, it's about making everyone develop and grow, helping everyone to step up, growing each individual as well as helping the team to work as a team (and not a set of individuals). And I feel that this book forgot (or never acknowledged) all of these, it was a song to the leader, the never wrong, or the one that need to take responsibility and extreme ownership for everything!

I have quite a few areas where I agree with the writer. Leadership is amazing, and is changing individuals and teams. It is a unique and not very common skill. leadership is the single greatest factor in any team’s performance. Whether a team succeeds or fails is all up to the leader. The leader’s attitude sets the tone for the entire team. The leader drives performance—or doesn’t. And this applies not just to the most senior leader of an overall team, but to the junior leaders of teams within the team.... they often don’t know how, or simply need motivation and encouragement. Teams need a forcing function to get the different members working together to accomplish the mission and that is what leadership is all about. And I half agree with There are No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders, because I agree more with Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by James C. Collins, that says: put the right people on the bus (and let the wrong people off), and then help them sit in the right seats. The team matters! There are ok teams, and good teams, and excellent teams.

I was bothered by some of his war memories. If it's a leadership book, I am not sure what's the point of adding to it people shot in the face. I understand that they went through it, but about half the book was memories of war. On the same day Marc Lee had been killed, another beloved SEAL from Charlie Platoon, Ryan Job, had been shot in the face by an enemy sniper. He was gravely wounded and we weren’t sure he would live. Yet Ryan, tough as nails, had survived, although his wound left him permanently blind.

I also had a serious issue with him putting down other people. Like this virtual CTO:He was not a fan of Extreme Ownership. I quickly recognized why. Since the new product line had been his baby, taking ownership of the disastrous rollout was humbling and difficult. The CTO was full of excuses for why his team had failed and for the resulting damage to the company’s bottom line. He shamelessly blamed the failed new-product rollout on a challenging market, an industry in flux, inexperienced personnel within his team, poor communication with the sales force, and lackluster customer service. He also blamed the company’s senior executive team. The CTO refused to take ownership of mistakes or acknowledge that his team could perform better, though the CEO had made it clear they must all improve or the company might fold. He also describes him as hard to work with, a tortured genius and more. Now, I am not defending that guy, but the first thing we need to do as leaders is to listen. Even leaders, and even bad ones, are human beings, and we all have excuses. And, btw, the CEO here fails more than the CTO. And he says: But I learned that good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done and win.” Good leaders first listen, then digest and walk away from some of the stories and excuses they are using. Because leaders need to passionate, need a story, need a crazy not-always-feasible vision to operate on. That's how they build future. They also know how to break it down to steps, they also know to admit and see failure as early as possible, but they are bottom line still humans.

His description of SEALs, as non-human, perfect teams and people bothered me. I worked for Google, FB and other companies that are amazing. No one is perfect, anywhere. The best teams anywhere, like the SEAL Teams, are constantly looking to improve, add capability, and push the standards higher. It starts with the individual and spreads to each of the team members until this becomes the culture, the new standard. No one can always want to improve, you learn to ask questions as a culture, you learn to double check. Pushing the standard higher as a result of the culture, not as the culture.
Here is some more perfect SEALS quote: As SEALs, we operate as a team of high-caliber, multitalented individuals who have been through perhaps the toughest military training and most rigorous screening process anywhere. But in the SEAL program, it is all about the Team. The sum is far greater than the parts. We refer to our professional warfare community simply as “the Teams.” We call ourselves “team guys.” This book describes SEAL combat operations and training through our eyes—from our individual perspectives—and applies our experience to leadership and management practices in the business world.\

So overall, I'll use the author's word: there can be no leadership where there is no team, but in this book 90% is only the leader responsibilities, the team is a background for a successful leader. And in reality, it can never be the case, the team is the thing for a serving leader. The leader is there for the team, to empower it, not to tell people what to do. Almost 2.5 stars. I'll keep my leadership style away from the military one.
Profile Image for Bill Fairclough.
Author 4 books454 followers
December 8, 2018
Interesting book well worth a read and if you like it try reading https://everipedia.org/wiki/lang_en/b... - it's free and should only take 20 minutes! You may suddenly realise the backgrounds of those you next encounter at a training course, away day or board meeting may not be precisely who they appear to be and you may even want to read Extreme Ownership again or dig deeper by reading Beyond Enkription which of course is intentionally misspelt!
Profile Image for Greta Stuhlsatz.
126 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2017
So, I put this book down back in March to take a break from the arrogance that permeated every paragraph. After having a conversation with an ex-army major, I tried it again. It does present some good leadership advice even if the context is a little off. Like, not everyone is trying to "win". Put your penis away.
Profile Image for Rachel Bayles.
373 reviews127 followers
June 13, 2016
This is an excellent leadership book, as judged by someone who usually is skeptical of the genre. I would not have read it if I hadn't heard the author's interview with Sam Harris. But I'm thankful that I did.

First and most obviously, the author has earned the right to speak on this subject. But he doesn't just say, "Look, I got through SEAL training and engaged in some horrific battles." He breaks down the operations he highlights into a great deal of detail. By walking you through the actions and thought process he went through, he builds trust with the reader.

Second, he shows why the experience he had in the SEALS can possibly be applied to civilian life. Again, this goes beyond the general advice of "leading from the front" or "never order your subordinates to do anything you aren't willing and able to." He shows how a team in any realm can use his strategies and ideas.

I actually think some of his ideas are nuanced and difficult enough that they require working with the material, which is probably the mark of an effective idea. If you want to get beyond the pat answer, which may not be all that useful in a complex world, you probably have to wrestle with how you are going to do it.

One confusion I had about the book was that it ends somewhat abruptly. I think it needs a final chapter that recaps a bit. And there were definitely times where I wanted to get into a conversation with the author, and say, "Sure, but this and this may not be possible to execute without a very specific set of circumstances." However, I think that's more my failure to fully understand the consequence of applying the mindset he espouses. Ultimately, I think working with these ideas is well worth anyone's time.
Profile Image for Marrije.
489 reviews22 followers
October 27, 2019
Unpleasant (I don't care for all this talk about 'savage, brutal, cowardly insurgents'), but useful.
Profile Image for Artjoms Haleckis.
53 reviews4 followers
December 13, 2018
Extreme ownership is a great set of basic rules that we all should apply on a daily basis not only at work but all the time. I like this idea a lot and there are lots of takeaways from this book that I will try to remember and carry on with me.
However, this book gets 3 stars from me because of the poorly-written and unnecessary detailed military operation descriptions. I noted myself drifting away and losing focus in the middle of the book on a constant basis, while "application to business" portions were balanced and informative. Even though I really enjoy military topics, this particular book got them wrong somehow for me.

So the conclusion is: read a short summary of all basic principles and maybe "application to business" chapters to get the same value.
Profile Image for Valentin.
44 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2016
This book is not for everyone, as you will constantly hear military jargon. Besides the leadership lessons it also gives you some insight on how the war is really like, not sure everyone will enjoy this in a leadership book.

For me it was enjoyable, some chapters are common sense, others teach though lessons to follow. Definitely a lot to learn form this book.
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books268 followers
May 27, 2023
Мрънкачите безспорно са едно от най-дразнещите неща в тази и близките три вселени. Всички познаваме досадно много хора, на които все нещо не им е наред и все някой им пречи и те не се свенят да се оплачат от това на който има нерви да ги слуша, както и на всички останали, които нямат.

Може би си мислите, че мрънкачите нямат нищо общо с концепцията за това какво е "истина" и различните виждания за това, но имат, даже много.

Значи, обичайното определение на "истина" е нещо, което е, нали,... истина, което е вярно, което е така, наистина се е случило или се случва и т.н. Само че има и друго определение, на което ви приканвам да обърнете внимание и то е описано от Джордан Питърсън, макар че не го е измислил той.

Значи, истина може да бъде нещо, което не точно се е случило, но описва света така, че да го разберем и да ни е от полза. Например, баснята за лисицата и киселото грозде очевидно не се е случила наистина - лисиците не могат да говорят с гаргите. Но още по-очевидно, баснята описва вярно част от света и човешката природа, и ни помага да ги разберем. В този смисъл, баснята е вярна и това, което казва е истина.

На мен, като атеист, ми беше трудно да го призная, но същото важи и за Библията и други древни и религиозни книги и истории.

Сега да се върнем на мрънкачите. Те са дразнещи за всички, защото очевидно мрънкачеството с нищо не им помага. Дори това, от което се оплакват да е вярно (т.е. да е истина), мрънкането не може да промени това, могат да го променят само действията. Или не могат, но мрънкането и срещу това не помага.

И тук вече стигаме до темата на книгата, която описва нещо, което може да помогне - а именно една лъжа, която ако приемем за истина, става истина в оня, гореописания смисъл - т.е. започва да ни помага да действаме, вместо да мрънкаме.

Extreme ownership има няколко глави, описващи различни аспекти на лидерството и личната инициатива, но основната идея е описана в заглавието - идеята, че ако приемеш, че ВСИЧКО в живота ти зависи само и единствено от теб и че ти си единственият човек, виновен и отговорен за всичко, което се случва, това ще те накара да мислиш и действаш по начин, който ще ти помогне и ще ти е полезен.

Шефът ти дава идиотски нареждания? Той може да е идиот, но ти не можеш да направиш нищо по въпроса. Това, което можеш да направиш е да разбереш, че не си му обяснил достатъчно добре (като за идиоти) ситуацията. Подчинените ти са некадърници? Ти си човекът, който трябва да ги мотивира или изгони или каквото там решиш. Да се вайкаш над свършени факти няма смисъл, нито да вдигаш ръце безпомощно. Или се справяш със ситуацията или не.

Авторът, Джоко Уилинк, е бивш офицер от Морските тюлени и описва всяка от идеите си за лидерство и инициативност чрез един пример от военното му ежедневие в бойните действия в Ирак и един пример от компаниите, които консултира.
7 reviews
August 24, 2015
There are many books on leadership that focus on one person and what skill set a leader must possess in order to succeed. The authors of this book take it a step further, successfully using the knowledge that helped them overcome enormously difficult tasks in combat situations and interpreting that knowledge for us in a civilian setting. Many writers rush to capitalize on the extremely popular subject of SEAL teams and what it takes to serve in the Navy's elite special operations force. Unlike many however, this book is filled with valuable lessons that any leader worth their salt will take to heart. The book focuses on a specific mindset every leader must have: Extreme Ownership. "Leaders must own everything in their world. There's no one else to blame". Mastering this concept will inevitably help you succeed as a leader.

Each chapter starts with a story from the battlefield in Iraq or a SEAL training scenario, and ends with a real-life, business-related situation where authors share how they helped a business leader overcome his/her problems. Problems include team performance, lack of motivation, miscommunication, personality issues, etc. You will learn how to build high performance, winning teams that will follow you to any battle and achieve extraordinary results. The book is a worthy addition to any leader's library.
Profile Image for Corbin Routier.
143 reviews2 followers
November 30, 2022
This book reads like a poorly written Hollywood movie script. The author comes in during a crisis, says 45 second speech, and a bunch of underperformers magically turn the situation around in a montage. It's absurd. The unrealistic settings and outcomes from the anecdotes could be justified from the opening pages where it is stated, "... in some cases we combined situations, condensed timelines, and modified story lines to more clearly emphasize the principles we are trying to illustrate". I do not accept this justification. The break in logic during the anecdotes are too large. For example, the US military began working with the Iraqi military in order to give legitimacy to the country and its soldiers. In Chapter 3, the author tells how a dangerous mission set was being compromised because US leadership wanted poorly trained Iraqi soldiers to accompany the SEALS on high risk missions. The SEALS were obviously upset. The author convinces them to accept this previously unknown/poorly communicated national campaign strategy in three sentences... It's ludicrous for so many reasons.

These anecdotes become more and more ludicrous because each of them has the same formula. The author identifies a problem, his team is defensive and doesn't want to accept change, the author asks one or two questions and the subordinates are awestruck. Struck dumb with silence. An epiphany has occurred. They are inspired. The formula wouldn't be so terrible, except in one section the author asks a question that makes the room go silent, he pontificates, and somehow the room falls silent again... After already being silent... It's just bad writing.

Finally, the author communicates one of the most flawed beliefs of US service members - the more bad guys you kill the better you're doing. The author states, "Some of the politicians and most senior military brass in Washington felt that killing bad guys only created more enemies. But they didn't have a clue". Killing "bad guys" is 100% the goal. Distinguishing what level of bad a guy is is a completely different question. How many of you would pick up a rifle and fight an invading country that was destroying your property and dismantling your government? Let's say every Iraqi wanted US intervention, but a radical group is threatening to kill your son or rape your daughter unless you deliver bomb making material or plant an IED? How many of you would find someone to hurt if a war between two groups had displaced not just you and your family, but hundreds of thousands of people in your city? These are measurable outcomes. The ability to measure what is an act of war, an act of terrorism, or an act resulting from oppressive regimes is differentiated only by personal preference. The ability to measure these acts is solid. The more "internally displaced persons", the more non-violent/participating civilians that are killed, and the more an economy is damaged all increase "acts of terrorism". Killing people who are reacting to these events is not the most efficient way to combat terrorism. It's why the US has been "at war" for 20 years. His lack of insight is disappointing.

Below is an article related to the last critique I have of this book. It's from one of the most renowned think tanks for the department of defense. Give it a chance if you disagree with my last critique.

It's just not a good book.

Profile Image for John.
69 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2018
I read this because I was making fun of a friend for reading it. Really fascinating to read a book by someone who thinks so differently from me in so many ways. Provokes some thoughts about how the mentality of warfare and the metaphor of the warrior really shape how these people approach life. Some scattered thoughts:

- dominating and winning is a constant theme; do these things, be an extreme owner, and you will dominate. I would say that dominance is not one of my goals.

- through seizing responsibility for failure you also seize the power for changing that failure, is kind of the message.

- something something serenity to accept what I cannot change, courage to change what I can. This book tries to tell you that the second part is a lot bigger than what you think it is.

Finally, just seeing the cover of this book made me feel more empowered at work so if you're reading this just scroll back up and look at the cover a bit more.
Profile Image for Jonathan Maas.
Author 26 books320 followers
March 14, 2018
Inspiring tale with a straightforward message

This book alternates betwen Jocko Willink and Leif Babin talking about their time in Iraq, and then applying the lessons therein to the business world.

It's not a nuanced message - and it can honestly be placed in a paragraph or two. In short - take responsibility for everything, absolutely everything - and good things will happen. Don't shift blame, don't talk about how it is the situation's fault. It is all on you - but in a positive way. This is not to mean that everything that goes wrong is because of you - it means that putting everything on your own shoulders makes good things happen all around. Even when things go badly, take the responsibility - and it makes it easier to deal with.

Great book all around - and wow - some incredible tales of fighting there as well.
Profile Image for Sandro Mancuso.
Author 2 books279 followers
December 12, 2019
This is the best book I read this year. By miles. It is one of those books that really makes you introspect and makes you realise you can be a better version of yourself. You can also transform your workplace in a much better place. Taking lessons from the SEALs and real situations during the Iraq war, the book shows how companies of any size could work efficiently if the people working there at all levels followed some of those lessons.
11 reviews
December 4, 2015
they make one point only over and over again and use their war stories to make it interesting. boring and not helpful.
Profile Image for Guilherme De Azevedo.
5 reviews3 followers
February 10, 2017
A must read for Leaders!
I didn't imagine that a concept perfectly expressed in just 2 words could have as much impact.
Check out a 4 minute video review and summary I made and that will give you a good overview to decide if you want to further explore it.
It can also refresh your memory if you have already read it:

Profile Image for Yevgeniy Brikman.
Author 3 books602 followers
April 24, 2021
I was a bit skeptical from the title, but I must admit, this is a great book for learning leadership principles. The principles come from the experience of US Navy Seals, but they apply to most aspects of life. Each chapter focuses on one principle, introducing it with a real-world story from Navy Seals in the Iraq War, followed by the lessons learned, and how those lessons apply more broadly. Below are some of the core lessons I picked up from this book.

As a leader, you are responsible for everything that happens

Everything. Good or bad. It doesn't matter what the extenuating circumstances are; it doesn't matter if it was bad luck; it doesn't matter if someone else acted foolishly or even maliciously. If you're the leader, it is always on you, and you never blame anyone else.

This lesson sounds obvious, almost cliche ("the buck stops here"), but I have to admit, I never fully understood it before reading this book, nor seen any leaders really act this way. This book finally helped me understand what extreme ownership really means, and more importantly, why it's so important. This is best explained through an example. The book includes harrowing examples from the Iraq war, which are well worth reading, but here, I'll focus on a more benign business example.

Imagine you're the manager at a company, and one of your employees, Mike, screwed up the order for a customer. The typical reaction is to blame Mike: "I can't believe you screwed this up! You just cost us thousands of dollars!" All this does is put Mike on the defensive, so he's unlikely to try to fix the problem, and it teaches Mike and his colleagues to look for others to blame when things go wrong.

Moreover, the reality is that it's not Mike's fault, no matter what Mike did. As the leader, it's always on you:

- Perhaps Mike messed up the order because he wasn't skilled enough. In that case, it's your fault for not providing Mike with the training he needed.
- Or maybe Mike messed up because he had so many orders on his hands, he didn't have enough time to process each one correctly. In that case, it's your fault for not building a big enough team to handle the volume of orders you're getting, and for designing an order delivery process without sufficient quality control.
- Even in the extreme case that Mike intentionally and maliciously screwed up the order, it's still your fault for having hired Mike in the first place, and for not having put in safe guards for your customers and business.

Imagine instead of blaming Mike, you go to him and say, "I know you've had your hands overloaded with all the orders we're getting. That's my fault. We're going to grow the team as soon as we can. In the meantime, here's the new process that will help us catch problems before they reach customers." Instead of putting Mike on the defensive, when he sees you take ownership, he'll want to take ownership too. And so will the rest of the team. And that's what will lead to the problems actually being solved.

"There are no bad teams. Only bad leaders."

Performance standards

"With performance standards, it's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate." If you accept low performance on the team, it becomes the new standard. Therefore, as a leader, a critical part of your job is to always push for higher performance.

Know the why

Everyone on the team must know not only what they need to do, but also why. If everyone knows the underlying why, they will all be able to make good decisions, even without you there. But if they don't, then everyone will end up working in a slightly different direction, and you'll get nowhere. As a leader, it's your job to make sure everyone knows why. And as a member of any team, if you don't know why, it is your job to ask.

Put ego aside

Everyone on your team should be focused solely on the goal. However, personal egos can often get in the way. It's your job as a leader to help avoid the ego getting in the way. For example, let's say one of your employees ignored operating procedure, and screwed up a task. If you yell at him along the lines of "I can't believe you ignored our procedure and screwed this up," you're pulling his ego into it, and he's likely to get defensive, and the problem won't get solved. Now, imagine that you instead said: "This is my fault. I never made it clear why we created that operating procedure in the first place. It's there due to a bunch of constraints you may not be aware of, so let's go through those together..." By avoiding bringing the employee's ego into it, they will be much more likely to work with you and try to solve the problem.

Questions to ask when things go wrong

When things go wrong, as a leader, you should ask two questions:

1. Why did this happen?
2. What could I (the leader) have done to prevent this from happening?

It's all one team

If you're part of a larger organization, it's always easy to blame other teams for problems, especially if you're not in charge of those teams. But remember, you're all part of one team, with one goal. As a leader, even if you're not in charge of those teams, their problems are still your problems. Instead of blaming them, ask what you can do to help.

Up and down the chain

Most leaders know it's their role to pass information down the chain, to the people who report to them. But it's also your job as a leader to pass information up the chain to your own bosses. When your boss makes crazy requests or bad decisions, it's easy to just call them an idiot or an asshole. But pause and ask yourself this question: do you really think your boss wants you and your team to fail? In most cases, they don't, so if they made a wrong decision, that's your fault, as you didn't provide them with the information they needed to make good decisions.

How to react in overwhelming situations

In tough situations, Navy Seals are taught to: prioritize and execute. Don't try to solve everything at once. Instead, solve one problem at a time, and then move on to the next. The process is roughly:

1. Relax
2. Look around
3. Make the call on one thing to prioritize
4. Seek input from the team on options to solve it
5. Pick one of the options
6. Communicate it up and down the chain
7. Execute
8. If priorities change part way through, send word up and down the chain

Standardized planning protocol

You should have a standardized planning protocol: a pre-defined checklist of how you do planning, so every time you need to put together a new plan, you go through the same series of steps, and don't miss anything important.

Here's the rough outline of a typical planning protocol:

1. Start with the mission. This defines what you're trying to achieve.
2. Define the leader's intent. This defines why you're doing the mission. This is the most important part of the plan. It's essential everyone is clear on the leader's intent, as that way, everyone can act independently.
3. Delegate tactics to the experts on your team. As a leader, you should be focused on the high level strategy and coordination. Leave all the implementation details to the team, as that way, you get more buy-in, more involvement, and better ideas. Your role is to check what they come up with, look for holes in the plan, and stand back to make sure everything works together from a higher perspective.
4. Brief everyone of the plan. Keep it concise and clear. No one can follow long, overly-complicated plans anyway, so short and simple is the goal.
5. Assign roles. Everyone must know who is in charge of what. And everyone must know how their role connects to the bigger picture.
6. Figure out contingency plans. Take some time to figure out what to do if things don't go according to plan.
7. Give everyone a chance to ask questions. In fact, actively encourage participation: check with each person that they understand the plan fully; flush out all confusion and concerns early. If the team is too afraid to ask questions, you'll never know if they are on board, confused, in doubt, etc.
8. Execute.
9. After everything is done, do a post operation debrief. Record lessons learned. Update your planning protocol with these new lessons.
10. Rinse and repeat.
Profile Image for Shreef A.
21 reviews33 followers
April 19, 2018
A good book to read or listen to if you want to know more about the experience of US Navy SEALs in Iraq (from their own point of view).

The book is advertised as a leadership and management book and it delivers on that promise to some extent. The ideas are simple but nothing new. Still overall it can be energizing sometimes to hear the same stuff you knew before when told as a good story.

One problem I had with the book is that it turns everything into a war.

At some point the author was telling a story about the time when he was doing a consulting job for a company. He gave some kind of a motivational speech to the employees and one part of it was "the enemy is not your colleagues, the enemy is the other companies ...".

I understand what message he wanted to deliver, but I don't agree with the idea that people are going to work everyday to fight the other evil companies.

Overall it's an easy read to read book with good story, ideas are average, so it deserves a fair 3 stars.

Tip: Best consumed as an audiobook.
Profile Image for Eat.Sleep.Lift.Read..
156 reviews34 followers
August 28, 2017

Jocko (the author) has a podcast; it's well worth a listen.

This is a weird book - half war memoir, half 'be a better leader' book.

It kinda works, and it kinda doesn't.

That being said it's well worth a read if you're in a 'leadership' position.
Profile Image for Mark Marquez.
33 reviews36 followers
December 29, 2016
Should be required reading for all leaders. Extreme ownership is a philosophy that can be applied to all aspects of life. In that regard, it should be required reading for anyone looking to take back their life and accomplish their mission.

Reading this has been an honor and a privilege. To get it direct from some of the best trained warriors in the world this book is solid gold. Bravo!
Profile Image for Stephen Heiner.
Author 2 books47 followers
February 18, 2018
The problem with books that get built up is that they often don't live up to the hype. Prior to reading this book I'd listened to hours of Jocko Willink doing interviews on different podcasts as well as hosting his own. I had a good idea of his ethos and worldview. What I didn't have was the backstory on how this was built, and Extreme Ownership delivers that backstory, and then some.

Fair disclosure, one of my favorite military history books is Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down. His ability to tell stories about conflicts that have happened in recent history, filled with evidence given by interviews with men who were actually there, is remarkable, and Extreme Ownership manages to weave in stories not told by an outsider, but by the combatants themselves. Each chapter features a relevant story from what was going on in Iraq, a further explication of the principle in place (for example, some chapters are entitled, "Check the Ego," or "Cover and Move," followed by a real-world business application connected with one of the companies that the authors have consulted for in their civilian lives following their experiences in Iraq. I can honestly say I've never read a business/military history/personal development book anything like Extreme Ownership, but I think that's because no such book exists. It's a powerful narrative that underlies the veracity of the principles.

On a side note, even if you, like me, oppose American involvement in the Middle East on multiple levels, you will gain much from reading this book. The principles and applications are solid, and you don't have to endorse our meddling in various regions of the world to glean the hard-won lessons that these men have brought back. If this is on your "to read" list, bump it all the way to the top.

"Once people stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and take ownership of everything in their lives, they are compelled to take action to solve their problems." (xii)

"The best leaders checked their egos, accepted blame, sought out constructive criticism, and took detailed notes for improvement." (p. 37)

"If you don't understand or believe in the decisions coming down from your leadership, it is up to you to ask questions until you understand how and why those decisions are being made." (p. 84)

"The moment the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie there in comfort and go back to sleep?" (p. 271)

"There is an answer to the age-old question of whether leaders are born or made. Obviously, some are born with natural leadership qualities, such as charisma, eloquence, sharp wit, a decisive mind, the willingness to accept risk when others might falter, or the ability to remain calm in chaotic, high-pressure situations. Others may not possess these qualities innately. But with a willingness to learn, with a humble attitude that seeks valid constructive criticism in order to improve, with disciplined practice and training, even those with less natural ability can develop into highly effective leaders." (p. 285)
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