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Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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“This is the SEAL Leadership book we have been waiting for. Poignant, powerful, practical. A must read for every leader.” ―Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and chairman, Fox Television Stations
“Leif and Jocko are the real deal. I’m honored to have served with them. They led SEALs in the fight through the hell that was the Battle of Ramadi. This book shows how they did it.” ―Marcus Luttrell, U.S. Navy SEAL and #1 national bestselling author of Lone Survivor
“The smartest, most revolutionary management approach since Jack Welch's Six Sigma.” ―Don Imus, radio host, Imus in the Morning
“Finally, a leadership book that actually demonstrates how to truly lead. Riveting, engaging, and free from the usual cliché platitudes, this book is strikingly impactful and will dramatically improve leaders of all types.” ―Amy Brandt Schumacher, entrepreneur, executive, and philanthropist
“Extreme Ownership provides huge value for leaders at all levels. An inspiring and page-turning read, the leadership lessons are easy to digest and implement. It provides a powerful SEAL framework for action to lead teams in high-stakes environments. This book made me a better leader and enabled my entire team step up our game!” ―Jared Hamilton, founder and CEO, DrivingSales
"One of the best books on leadership I've ever read and a tremendous war story book as well." ―Marc Andreessen
About the Author
JOCKO WILLINK is author of Extreme Ownership, a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he is a leadership instructor, speaker, and executive coach. Jocko spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, starting as an enlisted SEAL and rising through the ranks to become a SEAL officer. As commander of SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser during the battle of Ramadi, he orchestrated SEAL operations that helped the "Ready First" Brigade of the US Army's First Armored Division bring stability to the violent, war-torn city. Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the Iraq War. Jocko returned from Iraq to serve as Officer-in-Charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams. There, he spearheaded the development of leadership training and personally instructed and mentored the next generation of SEAL leaders who have continued to perform with great success on the battlefield. During his career, Jocko was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and numerous other personal and unit awards. In 2010, Jocko retired from the Navy and launched Echelon Front where he teaches the leadership principles he learned on the battlefield to help others lead and win. Clients include individuals, teams, companies, and organizations across a wide-range of industries and fields. Jocko is also the author of the children's book Way of the Warrior Kid and the New York Times bestseller Discipline Equals Freedom.
LEIF BABIN is author of Extreme Ownership, a decorated former Navy SEAL officer, and co-founder of Echelon Front, where he serves as leadership instructor, speaker, and executive coach. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Leif served thirteen years in the Navy, including nine as a Navy SEAL. As a SEAL platoon commander in SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser, he planned and led major combat operations in the Battle of Ramadi that helped the "Ready First" Brigade of the US Army's 1st Armored Division bring stability to the violent, war-torn city. Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. Leif returned from combat as the primary leadership instructor for all officers graduating from the SEAL training pipeline. There, he reshaped SEAL leadership training to better prepare SEAL officers for the immense challenges of combat. During his last tour, Leif served as Operations Officer and Executive Officer at a SEAL Team where he again deployed to Iraq with a Special Operations Task Force. He is the recipient of the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. In 2011, Leif left active duty and co-founded Echelon Front, a leadership consulting company that helps others build their own high-performance winning teams. Clients include individuals, companies, and organizations across a wide-range of industries. Leif speaks on leadership, U.S. military strategy, and foreign policy matters. His editorials have been published in the Wall Street Journal and he has appeared on a variety of national television news and radio programs.
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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, the book is really repetitive at parts. There are several moments when the authors share a complete story or personal thought--and then share 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 became 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.
This isn't a self-help book from some "gurus", nor does it provide an ideology or set of steps for how to approach specific problems. Extreme Ownership is a mindset which applies to everything you do. Authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin have crafted a guidebook for success in all ventures of life. They explain hard-learned principles of leadership, which they experienced first-hand as US Navy SEALs, specifically in and around their 2006 deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, one of the most dangerous places and times in the war. These principles can be applied to any relationships or walks of life; they are simple enough for anyone to understand, and broad enough to use in any situation.
The book is separated into 12 chapters, each which highlights a principle of leadership. Each chapter is then broken into 3 seconds. The first section is an anecdote providing an example of how US Navy SEALs use their military experience to demonstrate each principle. The second section is how & why the principle works. The third section is an example of how that principle transforms from the battlefield, into world of businesses of all types & sizes, as experienced by the authors and their customers. It is very easy to read and understand, despite the regular use of military jargon (which is either footnoted or explained so even non-military readers can comprehend).
Military recruits & officers, parents, corporate executives, students, low-level management, spouses, shop foremen, independent contractors, and sole proprietors will all benefit from the lessons of Extreme Ownership.
If you feel you're stuck in a rut, lacking self-discipline, or perhaps know someone who simply needs to improve their lot, this book is an excellent starting point.
I have personally read & completed this book, but I will never be done with the concept of "Extreme Ownership". Being able to take ownership and be accountable for the things around me has truly changed my life for the better.