Extreme Ownership

A few months ago, I watched a TedX video by a guy named Jocko Willink, a former Navy Seal who commanded a unit of Seals in Iraq. He spoke about a particular experience in Ramadi where they experienced one of the worst things imaginable. In the confusion of war, two units who were on the same side started shooting at one another, ultimately killing one of the men that they were working together with.

Jocko spoke about the aftermath, thinking about whose fault it was that this happened. He said that he ultimately decided that it was up to him to take the blame. He was in charge of what was happening on the battlefield, and despite the bad decisions and miscues among the team that could be to blame for the horrific experience, many of which were acknowledged in their debriefing, Jocko decided that he should be the one – if someone were to be fired – to be blamed and fired for the problems that they experienced.

This is going to be tonight’s Life Lesson for my kids. I’m planning to simply watch this and ask some questions:

  • What happened?
  • Why?
  • Why did Jocko take responsibility when there was blame to go around?
  • How do we apply this to our lives?

I want my kids to understand the importance of taking responsibility and ownership for their lives. They shouldn’t simply be tossed by the waves of life, and they certainly shouldn’t pass ownership to someone else. That is for them to do, for them to take ahold, whether for good or for bad.

This is a difficult lesson in a world that typically does the opposite, that frequently simply points the finger at another instead of taking ownership of their own work and their own lives. My hope is that they will learn this lesson early.

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