“Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink, Summarized

Extreme Ownership is a book written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, both former Navy SEALs. It covers valuable leadership lessons forged and tested on the battlefield in some of the most hostile environments on the planet. Every leader and aspiring leader should read this book about remaining true in seemingly impossible odds and guiding others through it with you.

This summary by no means replaces a full read of Extreme Ownership but does offer some valuable insights into how we can steel ourselves for great challenges and rely on well-coordinated group efforts to accomplish the impossible.

Taking ownership no matter what

The book covers the philosophy of extreme ownership, accepting responsibility no matter what. As SEALs on the battlefield, making the wrong decision could get good men killed. To not accept ownership is not only a disservice to those making the ultimate sacrifice, but it’s also a disservice to the leaders of these groups.

You can’t expect people to put themselves on the line for you if you aren’t willing to put yourself on the line for them. No matter what happens, you need to take ownership as a leader. Once you accept this, your ability to lead becomes stronger and you can become more empowered to make hard decisions.

There is no one else to blame

No one else is to blame. Only leaders are. This is the greatest challenge to becoming a leader, but it can also be your greatest motivation. If you are to blame, that also means you are in control. Otherwise, you could never hold leaders accountable for the results of their actions.

You are in control of your own destiny, for better and for worse. You shouldn’t only accept responsibility for everything that is going well, and then point the finger away from yourself when things go bad. If someone you depended on fails your trust, remember who decided to put trust in them. 

Stop making excuses

In Extreme Ownership, excuses serve one purpose—lying to yourself. Some people even make excuses before they need to make them, preparing for a failure when there’s still the possibility for success. As a leader, you can’t make excuses.

If there’s one thing you can take away from this book, it’s that people have been in worse situations and still found a way to power through and succeed. And if they can do it, so can you. Stop making excuses and focus on how you are going to solve the problem or overcome a challenge.

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Cain Consulting is always writing about things you can do to become a better leader and improve your group dynamic. We specialize in taking people with a sincere wish to improve their abilities as a leader and showing them the guiding principles that they can follow in the workplace and throughout life. 

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