Jocko Wilnick's three principles for success
Actually, there are four. Jocko starts with the first one: similar to what I wrote in my post The hard way is the easy way.
He says it the other way: The easy road is longer and more painful than the hard road.
There are no shortcuts, there are no hacks. If you want to take the easy road, I promise you it’s longer and more painful than the hard road. I know. I’ve lived it. I’ve ventured down the easy road at times in my life. And it never led to anywhere good.
He articulates three principles. I’ve talked about two of them, but have not written about them. So I’ll fix that.
Take ownership of everything
Discipline = freedom
in life, you’re going to have to do things that you don’t want to do. Maybe things that you don’t think you should have to do things that offend your precious ego. When I got done with a basic SEAL training and reported on board SEAL Team one, you know what I was assigned to do? I was assigned to clean toilets. That’s right. Despite having just graduated some of the most difficult military training in the world. Despite being assigned to an elite Commando Unit. My first mission at the actual SEAL team was to clean toilets. Not exactly a glorious job. But you know what? I did it, I did it to the best of my ability and took pride in doing it well. And that attitude got noticed. If I cared that much about how clean the toilets work, people knew I would do a good job with even more important assignments. After a short period of time, I got those more important assignments. But it was humility that opened the door for me. Now, being humble does not mean you shouldn’t be confident. You certainly have to believe that you are a capable person. But don’t let confidence turn into arrogance. So keep your ego in check and stay humble.
Past Me got me here, and I’ve learned to be grateful.
But gratitude does not prevent me from seeing him as he was. He was an arrogant prick who thought himself better than almost everyone.
He was called gifted, but he wasn’t grateful for the gifts he’d been given.
Doing menial jobs was beneath him.
Rules were for other people.
He was special.
Well, maybe he was special, in some ways. But he behaved as though he deserved his special status. He didn’t. What made him special was not of his doing. He hadn’t earned a high IQ. He hadn’t earned good health. He didn’t deserve to be born into the circumstances in which he found himself. He didn’t earn the values and habits that his parents managed to train into him.
All he’d done was to manage to not to fuck himself up, too much.
… take ownership of everything. I call this Extreme Ownership in the military, the best leaders and the best troops were the ones that took ownership of everything in their world, not just the things they were responsible for. But for every challenge and obstacle that impacted their mission. When something went wrong, they cast no blame. They made no excuses. They took ownership of the problem and fixed it. You can implement this attitude as well. Not only in your job, but in your life. Let other people blame their parents, their boss, or the system. Let week or people complain that the world isn’t fair. You are the leader of your life. Take ownership of everything in it.
I’ve come to this view: I’m responsible for everything around me.
Suppose you do something that pisses me off. Who’s responsible? I am, of course. I don’t have to be pissed off for what you did. I might choose to dramatize my upset, but only if I judge that it’s the best way to improve the situation. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to do that just to punish you for pissing me off. You’re responsible for what you did, but I’m responsible for my action.
Suppose I do something that pisses you off. Who’s responsible? Me, again. It’s not to say that you’re not responsible for your reaction. But I’m responsible for precipitating your reaction?
How does that work?
If you’re pissed off after something that I did, there are two possibilities.
One is that I deliberately set out to piss you off. In that case, I’m undoubtedly responsible.
But supposing it was not my intention. I did or said something that was not intended to upset you, but you reacted. How could I have done such a thing? The answer is: I was ignorant of the way you would react. Are you responsible for my ignorance, or am I? Or are we both? From my view, the answer is simple: I’m responsible for my ignorance. (And so are you for your own.) But I’m responsible for the consequences of my ignorant acts. My ignorance is not a defense.
Responsibility is not a zero-sum game. I can be responsible whether or not you are.
Responsibility is different from causation—or fault or blame. The answer to “Who is responsible?” is not the same as the answer to “Who caused this effect?” It’s the answer to “Who is going to make things right?”
Jocko’s concept of Extreme Ownership matches my concept of responsibility.
Discipline = freedom
Principle number one, discipline equals freedom. That’s not a contradiction. It’s an equation. Discipline might appear to be the opposite of freedom. But in fact, discipline is the path to freedom. Discipline is the driver of Daily Execution. Discipline defeats the infinite excuses that hold you back. Some people think motivation is what will compel them to get things done. But motivation is just an emotion, of feeling. And like all feelings, it’s fickle. It comes and goes. You can’t count on motivation to be there when you need to get through truly challenging times. But you can count on discipline. Discipline is something you dictate. Motivation won’t make you exercise every day. Discipline will. Motivation won’t stay up late and finish a project for you discipline will, motivation isn’t going to get you out of bed in the morning. Discipline will make discipline part of your daily life, and your daily life will get better.
I’m just coming to understand the importance of discipline and I’ve been working hard on building my own. Up early in the morning. Voluntary discomfort with cold showers. 189 days and counting of daily meditation. And I am now trying to build a better, more disciplined blogging practice.
So be disciplined in all that you do. Don’t subject yourself to the whims of motivation. Stay humble and be willing to do what needs to be done and take Extreme Ownership of your life and everything in it. Then choose the hard path, the path of responsibility, hard work, and sacrifice the path of discipline, humility, and ownership that ultimately leads to freedom. If you follow these principles, then nothing in the world will stop you.
Here’s the video, and a link to the transcript.
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