Ep. 188: How to Apply Extreme Ownership in Your Business

Take Extreme Ownership

Own the Problem and the Solution. Apply the Four Laws of Combat. Adopt a Victorious Mindset.

And Become Unstoppable.

Have you ever had a day at work when you felt like you were in a combat zone?

A day when you’re bombarded with conflicting orders, hindered by crossed communication, and were knee-deep in the wreckage of failed projects?

Have you longed to go AWOL and escape a culture of missed opportunities, insular silos, and a lack of accountability?

Sure you have.

Have you ever thought that it might be your fault?

Probably not.

But according to Jocko Willink and Leif Babin who preach extreme ownership:

There is no one else to blame. You must own the problems along with the solutions. And you must commit to lead up and down the chain of command.[i]

What two Navy SEALs say about extreme ownership and business

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, is a #1 New York Times bestseller. Jocko and Leif are former Navy SEALs officers who also co-founded Echelon Front, where they and their team use the same principles of leadership tested in combat to train business leaders who face dynamic challenges.

In this week’s Silver Dollar episode, Luke and Josh discuss what Jocko shared during a virtual presentation with the team at ReminderMedia. And whether you’re part of an organization, a business owner, or a solopreneur, Jocko’s formula for success will help you achieve extraordinary results.

Apply the Four Laws of Combat

In addition to their intelligence, skills, physical fitness, and rigorous training, Navy SEALs are successful because they operate according to the four laws of combat and adopt well-defined mindsets.

Jocko teaches that these four laws and accompanying mindsets are as applicable to running a successful business as they are to executing a successful mission.

You can hear a full explanation of each of the four laws in this episode. Here are the highlights:

  • Cover and move. You experience success or failure as a team. No single person wins or fails alone. Everyone is responsible for everyone else.
  • Keep it simple. Plans and instructions must be clear so that everyone understands exactly what to do. There is no ambiguity.
  • Prioritize and execute. Look, assess, and find the biggest problem, and then be laser-focused on that problem until it is solved.
  • Decentralized command. Everyone understands the mission, the parameters in which to act, and the reason for what they are doing. With decentralized command, everyone leads.

Taken together, applying the four laws of combat will help you build a culture where everyone works together to achieve a well-defined goal. Each person knows the role they play and how what they do affects everyone else. And because everyone knows the endgame, any one can take the lead to address a problem and get it solved.

Adopt a Victorious Mindset

Jocko and Leif call them “mindsets for victory”—they’re the attitudes with which Navy SEALs approach combat, and they’re the attitudes you can use to approach your work and your life.

  • Default to being aggressive. Act fast and seize the initiative. Don’t wait for others to determine what you should do. Get ahead of the pack.
  • Innovate and adapt. Everything changes, and change can happen in an instant. Your competition adjusts, new technologies emerge, and pandemics happen. You need to be able to employ new tactics to stay in front of your competition.
  • Nothing will cause you to fail faster than your ego. Be able to assess yourself and change what’s necessary. Trust—the foundation of leadership—is built when you admit failure, when you listen to others, and when you show vulnerability. When you’re humble is when you earn respect.
  • Discipline = freedom. If you commit to high standards and are disciplined in what you do, you will gain flexibility, achieve more, and can act more quickly. In business, discipline is found in having standard operating procedures for processes on which you depend.

Forget the metaphor and apply the principles

Not everyone will relate to a military metaphor, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is to be a pacifist when it comes to your own success.

What’s important are the principles of extreme ownership:

  • being accountable to your team and yourself;
  • having a clear goal and clear plan of action to get you there;
  • creating a team that can take the initiative to get the job done;
  • applying discipline to achieve consistent results and free yourself from unnecessary concerns.

Start to follow this advice and apply these principles, and you’ll be an unstoppable force.


[i] Echelon Front, Homepage, Accessed October 14, 2020, https://echelonfront.com/what-is-extreme-ownership/


Key Points

  • Understand, believe, and promote a culture where if one member of the team fails, then the entire team fails.
  • Keep your plans simple. Every member of a team and every solopreneur should understand exactly what needs to be done. Don’t over-complicate what isn’t complicated.
  • When confronted with multiple problems, prioritize the biggest one. Focus on solving that problem first. You may find the other problems either become less pressing or are rectified.
  • If you and your team clearly understand what you are ultimately trying to achieve, they know the parameters within which they can operate, and know why they are doing what they’ve been asked, then everyone can lead.
  • Discipline produces more freedom, and humility gains you respect.

Action Item

Implement a standard operating procedure for at least one of the processes in your business A good option is a process that routinely stalls, creates issues, or proves frustrating.


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