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Book Review: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin



Recently, I read Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. This was their second edition which was published November of 2017. Jocko Willink is a retired U.S. Navy Officer and the host of the Jocko Podcast. Jocko commanded Seal Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser during the battle of Ramadi. Leif Babin is a former U.S. Navy Officer and was a SEAL platoon commander in SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser during the Operations in Ramadi. Jocko and Leif own a training company, Echelon Front. They have trained many people from many sectors such as finance, construction, manufacturing, technology, military, police, fire departments, and emergency first responders.


Their main objective of the book seems to be teaching others about extreme ownership. They define Extreme ownership as taking responsibility for everything in your life and not making excuses. They wrote that between Vietnam and the Global War on Terrorism, the U.S. Military experienced a thirty year span of limited conflict. This lull in battle is the reason most leaders did not have any combat experience and many of the lessons learned in the battle field were forgotten until the War on Terrorism. This book covers Willink's and Babin's tours to Iraq together and the lessons that they have learned about leadership and how those lessons can help many others in their business and in their personal lives.


Willink and Babin describe missions from their 2006 tour in Ramadi with great detail that sucks the reader in and afterwards describe what lessons they took away from those experiences. These experiences also include failures that these two have learned from and use to illustrate to the reader that no leader is perfect. Leaders will make mistakes but they need to own those mistakes and learn from them. The lessons that come from these failures should be incorporated into future training to prevent the same failures. Failures can also be used to decide if there needs to be changes to SOPs. Willink talks of how leaders must believe in the mission in order for the team to be successful in accomplishing their goals. If the leader does not understand why the mission is happening or happening a certain way they need to ask why. Once the leader understands why, they can pass it along to the rest of the team so the team will believe in the mission as well.


This book was over 300 pages, but was a very quick read. There were many interesting stories, lessons learned, and techniques that can help the reader to become a successful leader. I do recommend this book, it is well worth your time to read.

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