Jocko Podcast Book Club discussion

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
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Kristi (kristicoleman) Welcome to the inaugural Jocko Podcast Book Club Group Read! Our first book will be:

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

It looks like if we read about 2 chapters per week we can easily finish the book but do feel free to read faster or slower than that (Don't get used to this pace...we are going to be reading next book in a month). That being said, please start each of your posts by stating which chapter you are referencing so everyone knows which chapter you're discussing.

I look forward to discussing this book with you all!


Kristi (kristicoleman) Ok everyone, post your comments on the book here. Let the fun begin!!


message 3: by Charlotte (new) - added it

Charlotte Allen Introduction p3. This is my third read and there is something new to pick up every time. The passage is when Lt. Babin and his EOD operator chased down a man that ran from the building where they were looking for an insurgent... "In that instant, I became keenly aware that we were all alone in the world, totally separated from our unit. The rest of our SEAL force didn't know where we were. There hadn't been time to notify them. I wasn't even sure exactly where we were located relevant to their position..."

This lesson resonated with me because I was thinking of the times as a leader I went off doing something that separated me from my team and the decision was not thought through and could have had very negative consequences, albeit of a business nature not life or death. But Babin was able to recover because of his training and recall words from his Lieutenant Commander "Relax. Look around. Make a call." Laws of Combat that Jocko taught were key to surviving the situation.

It takes time for the lessons to sink in and to begin internalizing what they are saying in Extreme Ownership.

I'm glad we are reading this book first because it reinforces all the other material in the podcasts. Impactful!!!


message 4: by Charlotte (new) - added it

Charlotte Allen Chapter2 No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders - p54-55. Leif Babin on Principle, "When leaders who epitomize Extreme Ownership drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance, they must recognize that when it comes to standards, as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate”. When setting expectations, no matter what is said or written, if substandard performance is accepted… - that poor performance becomes the new standard.”……. “Teams need a forcing function to get the different members working together to accomplish the mission and that is what leadership is all about.”

Babin goes on to say, “The best teams anywhere, like the SEAL teams, are constantly looking to improve, add capability, and push standards higher. It starts with the individual and spreads to each of the team members until this becomes the culture, the new standard.”

This is a great demonstration of how leadership makes the difference. The SEAL team boat crews used in the example create a perfect model for this lesson. The good leader focused the team’s efforts on the goal and believed they could achieve it. He did not tolerate individual divisiveness. He also established a new and higher standard of performance, then held himself and his team to it. Conversely the less successful crew leader became a better leader because the new crew already had an exceptional level of performance standard and the leader had to measure up.

Let’s all strive for this… Anybody else have thoughts on this chapter?


message 5: by Charlotte (new) - added it

Charlotte Allen Charlotte wrote: "Chapter2 No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders - p54-55. Leif Babin on Principle, "When leaders who epitomize Extreme Ownership drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance, they must rec..."

Since I put up this comment I have been thinking about the huge role business standards and SOP's played in my career. The last 6 years of which I provided project management for carrier grade communications and computer equipment installations in central office type settings (some in very interesting environments).

Because of the safety concerns and business implications of service interruptions, knowing and following strict procedures and standards are critical. For example, data/comms centers have and maintain large power capabilities with backups. Mistakes can cause serious injury and even death. Also unplanned outages caused by careless action can cost companies millions of dollars and very unhappy customers. It's so easy to just take this one little short cut and lose your discipline, but that one time is all it takes for avoidable disaster to strike.

So critical to maintain the discipline and not tolerate substandard performance.... I was always hyper-vigilant (ok maybe a little crazy) when our team was onsite that we execute flawlessly. I'm sure I got on some of the guys nerves, but we never had any injuries or major issues. This discipline required lots of work and looked easy to the outsider, when it was not. "Simple, not easy!" All worth it!

Anyone else have examples or thoughts?


message 6: by Norris_buffalo (last edited Apr 14, 2016 08:00PM) (new)

Norris_buffalo | 3 comments I'll start with a confession. The hardest part of every chapter, for me, was the "principle". I read for context and interpret from the story so to have someone tell me "this is what the previous pages were about" attacks my ego. If you read the whole book every chapter is about putting that ego aside and accepting the deeper philosophy Jocko and Leif call "extreme ownership". I honestly think they don't use plain enough words to say what this means: There's a long term goal that makes you and everyone around you better. No matter how strongly you feel that everyone around you is wrong or will fail, you must do your job correctly or you won't be able to do it correctly when you finally realize how important it is. I have to admit that as a leader I constantly deal with people who seem to be fighting what "we" are trying to do. In the first section of the chapter "fog of war" everyone involved thinks they know what is going on and only later do they/we realize how messed up the situation really is. In the "application to business" section I see a very capable man used to doing things himself (much like myself) having to deal with the concept that he could have done more to make his goal a reality. Achieving a goal that requires more than one person takes a complex group effort that doesn't work the way individual achievement works. I can't just try harder or do more to accomplish my part. I need to make sure that I do more to help everyone else do their part. I genuinely struggle with this because it requires faith in other people's abilities and dedication. This is the first of many dichotomies in the book. These seals train incredibly hard to do their jobs but are always at the mercy of a disjointed group of allies and a ceaseless crop of enemies. Chapter 1 is the first hurdle for misanthropic people, like myself, who are put in charge and it's terrifying to read from that perspective. Chapter 1 is the first struggle.


message 7: by Norris_buffalo (new)

Norris_buffalo | 3 comments Chapter 2 is about accomplishment. If you are removed from a group it's easy to see where the talent made things happen vs when the leaders pulled things together. A nation of sports fans do this the day after every big game. Just ask them. This is where the idea "it's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate" comes in to focus. I feel l like I understand this concept very well. The only trick to it is applying it deftly to a group with established leaders. If you have had your job for very long you've probably seen employees come and go and you've see leaders step up or be replaced. many years ago I adopted a structured style of manufacturing that turns what we do into clear structured steps so that the value of a team ember or a leader is their presence and dedication, not their special magical abilities. There is no place for tribal knowledge in manufacturing just personal ability and hard work. Moving a bad leader out and seeing better results from his previous group is the sign that your processes are structured properly. I'm sure I missed some human aspect to this chapter but that's what I see in it because that's what I've done. I work in an area with a very shallow hiring pool so I don't get much of a vetting process. I have to work with who ever meets the minimum standard. In this case, success is the best teacher for leaders no matter how many times they have to fail first so I can't be afraid to replace people with unlikely new leaders.


message 8: by Neil (new)

Neil Gallivan | 10 comments Norris_buffalo wrote: "I'll start with a confession. The hardest part of every chapter, for me, was the "principle". I read for context and interpret from the story so to have someone tell me "this is what the previous p..."


"I can't just try harder or do more to accomplish my part. I need to make sure that I do more to help everyone else do their part."

This covers a lot of ground. Well said.


message 9: by Charlotte (new) - added it

Charlotte Allen Chapter 5 Cover and Move is a favorite. It is so easy to forget about other teams and even reflect on others being members of the bigger team. Anyone have team stories where Cover and Move worked? Or not?


message 10: by Charlotte (last edited Apr 25, 2016 10:13AM) (new) - added it

Charlotte Allen Just finished my third read of Extreme Ownership. As I was reflecting on the leadership principles, it came to mind how they were modeled and exemplified by my last, and best, boss ever. Dave is a retired Navy Senior Chief (submariner). My brother is also a retired Navy Lt Commander (submariner). Both of them are really dialed in guys and natural leaders. They also practice extreme ownership of what they take on. I'm thinking the Navy trains this way and possibly attracts folks who already work this way.

The reason Dave was such a pleasure to work with was because he always made clear his intent and kept things simple. He was great at cover and move. He always had my back, but let me do things my way within his guidance parameters. He really believed in decentralized command and we would sit down several times a year to go over our mission objectives. Always open to my questions and he trusted me to do my job! He also trusted me to ask for guidance or clarification when I needed it. We measured my performance on mission results and feedback from team members up and down the chain. Dave also valued my opinion and often asked me to critique him as well. Trust is earned and fosters clear direct communication, a very good thing.

As a professional program manager, a fundamental skill was planning. I really appreciated the planning framework expressed in the book. Simple and with a focus on those who implement the tasks...

If you haven't read this book, go get a copy today, read it, practice the principle's, stay disciplined and the folks you lead will appreciate you just like I do Dave!


Kristi (kristicoleman) Hey everyone! How is the reading going? I'm slowly making my way through, life has been crazy lately. I'll be back later to post reading comments.


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