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.