As humans, we like to point fingers and deny that something is our fault. Because if it’s our fault, we’re responsible for doing something about it.
Please don’t think this is just another gripe about cancel culture or an attempt to blame victims. This is me looking at my life and recognizing that I’m just as guilty of this tendency as anyone else.
The last couple of years have been hard, and part of what’s been so hard is that we feel helpless in the face of everything that’s going on in the world around us.
And that’s why Extreme Ownership struck a chord with me. And that’s why I chose it for my book recommendation for January.
What Is Extreme Ownership?
In this book, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin take what they learned as Navy SEALs and as leaders within that organization and present those lessons to anyone who wants to grow as a leader in business or even in life in general.
Humans are social creatures, so we’re constantly moving back and forth on a continuum of leading and following. And this book teaches us how to improve the only thing we can truly control: ourselves. We have to take ownership of our role in situations and honestly ask ourselves what we could have done and could do in the future to get a better outcome.
Why I Recommend It
While the book is written expressly for leaders, especially within business and the military, the principles can be applied to any situation in life that requires leadership: family, friendships, volunteer organizations, and more.
Also, I expected a book written by SEALs to take a tough, bullheaded stance, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the authors quite progressive, fair, and open minded in their views.
Don’t get me wrong; they take no excuses and are more focused on action and results than on feelings. If you’re looking for someone who will explore your feelings with you and tease out what makes you the way you are, this is not the book for you.
The authors aren’t therapists. They’re action oriented and practice a high level of self-discipline and expect the same of others. They recognize weaknesses that exist in all of us, themselves included, but the existence of weaknesses and faults doesn’t excuse failing to work to recognize and eliminate them.
For anyone who wants to learn practical, actionable principles for becoming a better leader, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
A Word of Warning
Extreme Ownership contains descriptions of combat and some of the injuries and horrors involved. The authors aren’t overly graphic in their descriptions, in my opinion, especially compared to some of the things we see on television today.
However, if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing or have any kind of trauma that makes descriptions of war and combat difficult to endure, just be aware of what you’re getting into in reading this book.
Where to Find More
Jocko and Leif have written other books since Extreme Ownership came out in 2015, including The Dichotomy of Leadership and Leadership Strategy and Tactics. They also run Echelon Front, a leadership consulting company.
And Jocko has a bunch of other projects out there. (Honestly, I have no idea how he gets so much done!)
He has several podcasts out, such as the Jocko Podcast, and while each episode is fairly long (often running two to three hours), I enjoy listening to his point of view on things because I think listening to several varying opinions is good for you. (But I feel I should repeat the trigger warning on this; he reviews a number of books that have some pretty graphic descriptions of the horrible, evil things human beings are capable of.)
And he has even written a couple of series for children (obviously age appropriate, without the difficult content). I’ve read a couple in the Warrior Kid series and even gifted the first book to my nephew. Since I’m an adult and admittedly slightly out of touch with the tastes of kids (at least, until I get more feedback from my nephew), I can’t attest to the appeal to that age group yet. But the books contain some important lessons on responsibility and self-discipline.
You can find the books and leadership consulting service at the Echelon Front website and the podcasts wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.