Extreme Ownership. How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win

by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


In this Leadership book two combat hardened SEAL officers, who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war, demonstrate how powerful SEAL leadership principles apply to business and life. Listen to the Tim Ferriss podcast for a taste of Jocko (so good because he trains MMA fighters and coaches Fortune 500 CEOs). 



Willink and Babin returned from deployment and instituted their lessons from war into the next generation of SEALS before starting their own leadership consultancy. This book uses their own experiences of war as examples of why each of their 12 principles of leadership is essential for survival and success.


They faced an impossible mission to secure Ramadi, an area suffering 30-40 attacks each day on US troops, with hidden explosive devices (IED) littered around the city. These guys are the ultimate team guys and put their fellow soldiers above all else. By the time they’d finished in Ramadi there was only around 1 attack a week.


Willink and Babin stress the Marine and SEAL mantra that Leadership is the single most important factor for success in war and in business. The book is not a war memoir but a collection of stories that highlights in black and white how each principle can be used to attain success.


PART 1 – Winning the War Within. Extreme Ownership.

During an attack on the US SEALS, an american sniper team was under fire and calling for a rain of fire on a building that had not been identified. Unknown to all involved was that ‘friendly fire’ (good guys shooting each other) was taking place and the other guys where Iraqi Soldiers who were actually supporting them. They almost got bombed. Jocko took it upon himself to triple check and found out in the very last minute… just in time to call off the tragedy.


During the lengthy debrief, everyone was in shock at what almost happened, a full investigation was underway already… sh1t was hitting the proverbial fan. Jocko was in command at the time. He started unwinding what had happened, he was frustrated, angry, disappointed and worried about his reputation. During the debrief Jocko quizzed all involved on who was at fault… hands went up and were quickly dismissed by Jocko.


“Negative, you are not to blame. You know who gets all the blame for this?” The entire group sat in silence including the investigating officer. In Jocko’s words – Finally, I took a deep breath and said “There is only one person to blame for this: me. I am the commander. I am responsible for the entire operation. As the senior man, I am responsible for every action that takes place on the battlefield. There is no one to blame but me. And I will tell you this right now: I will make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.” It was a heavy burden to bear. But it was absolutely true… Despite the tremendous blow to my reputation and my ego, it was the right thing to do – the only thing to do.

The leader must own everything in his or her world.


The other chapters give away ideas on the other principals for successful leadership (no time to post now just read the book c’mon):

No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders


Check the Ego

Cover and Move


Prioritize and Execute

Decentralized Command


Leading Up and Down the Chain of Command

Decisiveness amid Uncertainty

Discipline Equals Freedom – The Dichotomy of Leadership


These guys are true heros… I learned as much about business and leadership from them as you might from years in the army or heading up a big company. This book is in my top 10 books ever. I’ve read 100s.

It is full over stories of war, kinship, triumph, trials, and how to succeed.


Dad loved it. My business partners loved it.

Jocko has a brilliant podcast and just gives me goosebumps.

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Pick it up from bookdepository.com