Book Review: Extreme Ownership

I just finished listening to Extreme ownership, and it might just be the best book on leadership I ever consumed.

I found out about this book through a Tim Ferris podcast episode where he interviewed Jocko Willink (one of the authors).  While I was initially skeptical that a couple of navy SEAL officers could write a book on leadership that would be relevant for me, the podcast and the reviews on Amazon convinced me to give the book a listen.

My doubts about the book evaporated with the first chapter, and with each chapter afterwards the book further reinforced its relevance.  The authors (who personally narrated the book) tell intriguing combat stories but are careful to bring it in at the end of every chapter on how it relates to businesses today.  I really appreciated that all the examples in the business section are specific real world cases that the authors personally saw through.

Below are my main takeaways from the first part of the book.  I’m writing this mostly to solidify my own understanding of the book and I highly recommend others to read/listen to book itself because the stories and specific examples in the book is what makes it stick.

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Part 1 – Winning the war within

  • Extreme ownership: On failure, own it – don’t blame others.  On success, give/share credit with the team.  Remove individual ego and personal agenda, it’s all about the mission
  • No bad teams, only bad leaders: It is completely up to the leader to make the proper adjustments and lead the team to success.  Leadership is the single greatest factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.
  • Believe: Leaders must believe in the mission in order to propagate it.  Goals must be aligned throughout the org (from top to bottom).  Senior leaders should explain to junior leaders, junior leaders should ask/clarify until the mission is understood

The first part of the book stands on its own as the most fundamental but important part of this book.  It may sound really basic or even obvious from reading the key points but when I thought through and analyzed how the key concepts applied to myself , I realized that I don’t always follow them.  It’s one of those things where I have a general idea of how things should work or what I should strive to do, but reading this book solidified those general ideas into a list of specific action items for myself.

I plan to review the rest of the book in the next post, stay tuned!

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