Hey there,

After reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, I wanted to share my thoughts on how to incorporate this into your life. Here’s the quote that stood out to me.

“It’s not what you preach – it’s what you tolerate.” – Jocko Willink


After reading Extreme Ownershipby Jocko Willink, I felt compelled to compile how I’m planning on applying these learnings into my life to take more ownership in all aspects (family, work, friends).

Do you ever point blame at others first before thinking about how you could have caused the issue in the first place?

The fact is that all challenges or mistakes in life can be avoided. It just takes some careful planning and managing risk accordingly.

We are all human and make mistakes. The trick is finding ways of minimizing risk and potential upside to have a more positive and fulfilling life.


The four topics for owning your life we’ll cover today are:

  1. Teams > Leaders
  2. Simplifying Everything
  3. Prioritize Ruthlessly
  4. Delegate and Relinquish Control

There are more that Extreme Ownership talks about but these are the four that resonated with me the most.

Teams > Leaders

How can you best get your team to most effectively execute the plan in order to accomplish the mission?

Jocko Willink

A team is only as strong as it’s weakest link. If that’s the leader, you’re in trouble.

Here are a few things to consider when thinking about ownership and leadership:

  1. Performance Standards
  2. Say Do Ratio
  3. Asking Why

Performance Standards

Do you have performance standards for yourself in all areas of your life?

I can imagine there are some at your place of work but what about at home or with your other relationships throughout life.

You need to take extreme ownership to mean that you can acknowledge your mistakes, stop blaming others and lead your team (family/business/friends) to success.

So, set the standard that you would accept and make sure you not only preach it but you don’t tolerate anything else.

Say Do Ratio

Someone mentioned this to me in the context like this:

“Your Say Do Ratio needs to be high. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Without that, the people around you will not believe and therefore not follow you. Keep your say do ratio high.”


Asking Why

If you don’t have a good reason as to why you’re doing something – ask.

If your team doesn’t understand why you’re doing something, take a minute and really articulate it so they understand the why.

You must have buy in from your team and family. It’s imperative for finding success in life.

Simplifying Everything 🔑

It is critical to keep plans and communications simple.”

When you have too many things going on, what is the focus?

Have you ever heard someone say:

“I don’t have any idea what this means”

As someone who runs and manages a business, it’s incredibly important that you keep things simple. As you add complexity, things get lost in translation.

I typically find the best course of action is to ask one simple question:

How can we make this simpler?

By asking that question, you will find many things in your life will get done faster and in a more streamlined way.

Try it today.

Prioritize Ruthlessly

You’ll always encounter a new challenge or task that you must complete. If you don’t prioritize and execute one at a time, they will snowball into something bigger you’ll lose control of.

“But a leader must remain calm and make the best decisions possible. To do this, SEAL combat leaders utilize Prioritize and Execute. We verbalize this principle with this direction: ‘Relax, look around, make a call.’”

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership, Page 161

Looking into your life full of tasks that must be completed, how do you decide what to do first?

Ivy Lee Method

Listen, it’s hard to decide how to do this but if you look at the Ivy Lee Method of prioritization, that’s one path. Here are the rules you must follow this method:

  1. At the end of the day, write down the top 6 things you need to do tomorrow
  2. Take the time to order them in importance
  3. When you wake up tomorrow, only focus on the first task until it’s done
  4. Do the same with the other five tasks
  5. Repeat this process every day

This is a simple method I’ve picked up but I’m working on how to incorporate the Prioritize and Execute method from Extreme Ownership.

Prioritize and Execute

This method is similar to that of the Ivy Lee Method we discussed but goes a bit deeper with additional context.

Here are the must dos for any leader that wants to consider taking this on as their method:

  • Evaluate the highest priority problem (similar to Ivy Lee)
  • Prioritize in simple, clear and concise terms the highest priority effort
  • Develop and determine a solution, gather input from key leaders
  • Direct the execution of that solution, focusing all effort and resources towards that priority task
  • Once complete, move onto the next highest priority problem. Repeat.
  • When (and if) priorities shift within the team, pass awareness on to all those involved
  • Don’t let the focus on one priority cause you to lose sight of the end goal.
  • If other challenges arise, shift priority and execute

Clearly there is more to this than the Ivy Lee Method but adding in the delegation to team (or family) members on the highest priority task is an added bonus I’m going to work on.

It’s time to talk about delegation in more detail.

Delegate and Relinquish Control

“Teams must be broken down into manageable elements of four to five operators, with a clearly designated leader.”

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership, page 182

Gif by theoffice on Giphy

To say that relinquishing control over things you’ve done and feel ownership over is challenging would be an understatement. As humans we do thrive on completing tasks and seeing things through to the end (some more than others).

As humans we also want to have a leader who can explain what to do and why we are doing it. As you think about your leadership role in different areas of life, ask yourself this:

Where in my life could I relinquish control if I could trust those around me to execute what’s handed to them?

Fire Teams

In business (and life), it’s imperative that you build a team that is effective and trusts one another. Think about the question I posed above and how you’d be comfortable with relinquishing control.

The best way of doing this is building ideal team sizes, which is between four to six members on a team. These are what are called Fire Teams (in Extreme Ownership). That is the ideal number for a leader to lead. If you build teams bigger than that, the leader will lose control when a small amount of pressure is applied into that team.

We don’t want that.

This is why going back to why simplifying everything is so important. If you can keep directives simple, clear and concise that can be understood by everyone – you win.

There really isn’t anything more important than having comfort in delegating control to others you trust. If you’re able to do that, you will be able to 10x your productivity and build a real trusting bond with those you’re able to do this with.


Remember, extreme ownership is not going to be easy.

This is something we should all work on and focus our efforts to become 1% better everyday.

What I’ve learned from this experience and really distilling down what comes from this book will be:

  1. Provide simple, clear and concise directives for anyone to understand
  2. Trust your leaders to execute
  3. Simplify everything in life by asking: How can this be done in a simpler way?
  4. Prioritize all my tasks on a nightly basis for tomorrow and complete one task at a time.

Reply and let me know how you’re going to take on extreme ownership in your life.

Till next week,


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