Deeper Look Into Extreme Ownership. – WCU ENT601 – Week 3 Reflection.

This week I want to explore a little deeper look into the definition and what it means to have Extreme Ownership.  As it is the title of the book, the authors no doubt expand on their point into other multiple facets that ultimately make up Extreme Ownership.  I plan to dig into each one of the points separately in future weeks but will touch on here. 

                Willink and Babin define Extreme Ownership straight forward and very clearly.  However, I believe that each of us would define it differently as we read the book and begin to implement in into our own lives and careers.  WIllink states that “Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”  He expands the definition into owning ALL things that affect your mission, not just the things that you are in control over.  Easily said and already difficult for me to implement.  Even mistakes and career issues that have happened during the time I have begun reading this book, I have had a difficult time not blaming some outside force for the reason.  It’s easy to blame a market condition, a mistake by a co-worker, or a customer for the reason.

                A main foundation and cause for not having Extreme ownership is ego.  It sounds simple but when explored and reflected upon it becomes clear that ego is a main problem.  Ego doesn’t have to be mean egotistical.  It’s as simple as stating, “that was not my fault my shoes were wet, it’s because it is raining outside.”  Willick states that “Ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism. It can even stifle someone’s sense of self-preservation. Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own…”  The authors drive home ego early and often through the book.  It has its own chapter but their points regarding ego is driven throughout.  The main take away for me is that it “clouds…the ability to take good advice.”  Personally, I discard a lot of advice because I may not respect the source.  Regardless if it is good or bad advice, it’s a different viewpoint.  More on ego later.  

                Other defining parts and take-aways of Extreme Ownership are…

                A team is only as good as its leader.   Leaders set examples and expectations.  Each leader brings their own set of dynamics that will affect the team.  The aspects of being a good leader is infectious to a team.  As humans, we have amazing senses in detecting clue to a person’s leadership qualities.  We should not fake it.   

                Relax, look around, make a call.  Prioritize and execute.  It is common for many of us to juggle many tasks at once.  When things are hectic and confusion or anxiety grows, we can lose productivity.

                Simplify the plan and communicate clearly.  The more complicated plans and directions are for a team the more likely they are to fail.  The simpler that plans are the easier the team will be able to adjust if needed to attain the end goal. 

                Lead up and down command.  Don’t blame your team nor your boss.  If your team doesn’t understand or fails at a task, then help them.  If your boss is not supporting you or giving resources, look at what you can do to better communicate or leverage the needs.  Communicate with them by telling them what your actions will be and not by asking. 

                Discipline equals freedom.  We certainly couple being a Navy SEAL with discipline.  This naturally seems to be a trait that we can implement in our business lives.  Being disciplined with task that are small or seem irrelevant will many times lead to results with larger concerns.  Making your bed I the morning may just give you the motivation to accomplish a greater task.  When you are disciplined you will experience greater respect from your boss as well that will result in more autonomy.  

                Willink and Babin do a great job elaborating on all the facets of Extreme Ownership.  As they expand on the interworking’s the complete picture becomes clearer and it is apparent to me that you MUST become excellent in all the areas for extreme ownership to be complete and work. 


Willink, J., & Babin, L. (2017). Extreme ownership: How US Navy SEALs lead and win: St. Martin’s Press.

4 thoughts on “Deeper Look Into Extreme Ownership. – WCU ENT601 – Week 3 Reflection.

  1. I really like the idea of “owning it all”. Too often in our worlds people shift the blame to something besides themselves, whether it be outside market forces or other people. And I do agree with you that it is a lot harder to take ownership of things than it is to say that we’ll do it. For me, I think it is more about how we respond to the things that happen to us (and our businesses). I’m reminded that we have no control over anyone else, all that we have control over is ourselves. We can choose to focus on the negative and pass the buck, but if we really want to see improvements, then we have to charge and change things. Your example of wet shoes is a great choice. Playing off that, I would see “owning it” as taking steps to make sure that the next time it rains your shoes don’t get wet. You can do simple things to achieve that goal. Tie plastic bags around your shoes. Or switch to wearing waterproof boots. The point being that yes, we’re going to make mistakes. There will be things that occur that we weren’t prepared for. But we can learn from those mistakes and take steps to ensure that they aren’t made a second time.


  2. i enjoyed reading your post! Including images with your posts is a nice touch! I agree that as entrepreneurs, we must hold ourselves accountable, take responsibility for all aspects of our businesses, and refrain from blaming others or outside forces for things that may go wrong.

    As with most things, there must be a healthy balance, in my opinion. On one end of the spectrum, there are individuals that do not take accountability for anything. However, on the other end of the spectrum there are individuals that take full accountability, but “beat themselves up” when things go wrong.


  3. Jeramy,
    I enjoyed your post. Owning up to things is very difficult to do. I agree that if you create the plan it is easier to own it. I know I like to be treated like a human versus a robot and that goes back to how people lead. I learned another perspective on accountability and leadership through this post. Having good leadership skill is essential to any successful mission. I look forward to reading more of your post.


  4. Jeramy, I too had to explore the idea of owning everything even the things out of your control. While I understand the function I’m not sure if it is necessarily as useful as the authors say that it is. I personally think being mentally well is a large part of being able to succeed. I struggle to see how one can be mentally well when they also feel they’re responsible for the state of all things all the time? I think there is a fine line between owning your part in your own failures (this helps us grow!) but I also think that we must be careful before assuming that we are so impactful and powerful to how the world plays out. I almost feel like in assuming that I responsible for all things that I am overstating my importance and lacking reverence for the universe and destiny, but of course that is just from my perspective. One of the most beautiful thing about being human, and having the internet is seeing how differently people perceive things than you do. Having these conversations helps me think deeper on so many levels not just in regards to leadership.


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