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Extreme Ownership

It’s been nearly three years since I read Extreme Ownership and started following Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. And despite my criticism of Extreme Ownership, I have to say I think about Jocko Willink and his advice often.

Specifically, when I have taken a break from doing something I want to do consistently — most recently a health issue prevented me from walking as usual — I hear Jocko in my head saying (and I paraphrase): When you stray from the path… Get back on the path.

Extreme Ownership doesn’t have anything particularly new or interesting to say, but I have to admit it says it all in a pretty motivating way, especially if you dig military grit.

To read more of my criticism, check out my Review below. Extreme Ownership scored 70% by The Rubric. Or, to skip the read and jump straight to the good stuff, have a look at my Notes.

Extreme Ownership | Review

Extreme Ownership Review by The Rubric

SectionScore
Argument69%
Practicality70%
Enjoyability75%
Readability80%
External ResourcesN/A
Rhetoric55%
In Total70%
Extreme Ownership Review

Extreme Ownership Review

Arguments

69%

Most of Extreme Ownership is made up of stories; which aren’t a bad way to go in getting a point across.

But in general, this book is about recounting the results and extrapolating principles, and is less about stringing together arguments for the very straightforward conclusions offered.

An exception: I found the last two chapters of this book specifically, and the last section in general, to be a bit better in the arguments department, scoring 77% and bringing the average up.

By The Rubric, Extreme Ownership scored “Decent” for arguments.

Practicality

70%

This was particularly disappointing because listening to Jocko on the Tim Ferriss Show, I was expecting a lot of practical advice.

Even the flaps of the book make promises of practical information.

But I found a lot of storytelling, and very little practical advice. Certainly nothing that warrants a statement like this:

“Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team or organization.”

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that the stories recounted aren’t good – but with that kind of promise, I expect to be able to sink my teeth into something good and take it to work with me the next day.

And this book isn’t that.

By The Rubric, Extreme Ownership scored “Decent” for practicality.

Enjoyability

75%

Scoring perfectly across the board for having been exciting and targeted, the Enjoyability factor in The Rubric also takes into account being interesting, inspiring (emotion), and motivating (action) with respect to business.

It was all of these things with respect to the co-authors’ stories of fighting for our country (which I respect and for which I am grateful).

But with respect to business, it came up a bit short.

The last section scored highest at 85%, and the last two chapters might be worth the read in and of themselves.

By The Rubric, Extreme Ownership scored “Decent” for enjoyability.

Readability

80%

The best part of this book is that it is an extremely straightforward read. You can take it in with little brain power at the end of the day and pick it up without having to re-read to catch up.

The language is crisp and clear, and as far as I noticed it was without error.

However, this text shows signs of its labor – a chore rather than a craft.

By The Rubric, Extreme Ownership scored barely “Excellent” for readability.

External Resources

N/A

I graded Extreme Ownership before I added External Resources to The Rubric.

Rhetoric

55%

Ouch.

Co-authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin co-own Echelon Front, LLC, which provides consulting services. Their consulting services are highlighted throughout the book.

They did write this book primarily for leaders in business, so they scored well for that.

And the publisher, a subsidiary of MacMillan, is in the business of selling books, which scores well in the rubric as well.

However, in my assessment this book was written primarily to promote the services of Echelon Front, LLC rather than to educate or be a reference for would-be leaders.

It’s not that I’m opposed to the promotional nature of books; I think books can be a fine demonstration of one’s knowledge, expertise, and talents.

But if I don’t apprehend value beyond the promotion, or at least not substantial value to counter or off-set the promotion, then it feels a bit like I paid for an advertisement rather than content.

And sniffing out such rhetoric is absolutely one of the reasons I do what I do.

By The Rubric, Extreme Ownership scored “It’s a Start” for rhetoric.

In Total

70%

I can totally understand why this book is rated so highly on Amazon.

And if combat stories are your thing, then buy this book right now.

If not, there are plenty of other leadership books out there that will do the trick. Check out The List for more options.

By The Rubric, Extreme Ownership scored “Decent” in total.

Extreme Ownership | Notes

Extreme Ownership – Three Things

Thing One – December 19, 2017

So I wasn’t sure what I was going to update for this first thing; what would stick with me a month after reading Extreme Ownership?

And honestly, I haven’t thought much about the book, really.

What I have done is followed Jocko Willink on Facebook.

And it’s hilarious.

Every morning he posts a picture of his wristwatch to let his peeps know he hasn’t slacked off and slept past 4:45 in the morning.

Every. Flipping. Morning.

Additionally, he posts pictures of his workout space after he’s worked out. And calls it aftermath. As in, he destroyed his workout and here is the aftermath of that destruction.

Except the pictures are of towels on floors.

And I can’t really see what he did to that poor kettle bell. (Although, this is not a challenge to Jocko, because clearly he’s doing something to maintain those muskles – pronounced mus-skulls – and if he says there was a kettle bell involved, I believe him.)

I did get one thing out of following Jocko since I finished the book, however.

Jocko Willink Get Back On The Path
Jocko’s Facebook Post

He posted one day pointing out that he hadn’t posted any workout aftermath pictures two days because he’d missed a couple due to a hectic schedule, but he was posting again after getting back on the path.

“The best way to get back on the path. GET BACK ON THE PATH.”

I missed a couple days of my own floor exercises (not nearly as ferocious as his, I promise), and I actually quoted him word for word as I got back down on my mat to get back on the path…

So that’s something.

I think next update I’ll have to make it about my team taking ownership. My team culture’s a bit different, but ownership is key, for sure. And I might have something to write about it next month.

Stay tuned.

And GET BACK ON THE PATH.

Next Updates:

  • January 19, 2018 – Update Two: Practical Views of Extreme Ownership
  • February 19, 2018 – Update Three: Still Deciding

Extreme Ownership – Raw Notes

  • Began reading: 11/13/2017
  • Finished reading: 11/15/2017

Please note as you read the Extreme Ownership Reading page that it’s not to be confused with the Entreprising Extreme Ownership Review. For more information on the difference, check out The Rubric and The Reading pages.

Extreme Ownership is currently second on The List, nestled right beneath Tools of Titans (see Reading Page here and Review here), and dare I say Tribe of Mentors shortly.

In fact, Tim Ferriss had Jocko Willink on the Tim Ferriss Show shortly before the release of Extreme Ownership, and helped to make it the success that it is.

I’ve since listened to three of Tim’s podcasts featuring Jocko (one interview, and two where Jocko guest-hosted), which have left me looking forward to diving into this book.

Extreme Ownership Kindle

Fun fact: I pre-ordered the 2nd edition of Extreme Ownership on Kindle, forgot that I had pre-ordered it, and then ordered the original version on Kindle. The second edition is due to be released the same day as Tribe of Mentors, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s on purpose…

Update: 11/21/2017

The second edition of Extreme Ownership was released today. I bought it, downloaded it, and looked for the new material.

As it says on the new cover, there’s now a foreword selling the book itself. Lots of accolades as you might expect.

And they added a section to the end as an index. They call it a Q&A, but really, the book was originally released before Jocko’s now successful podcast was released. The Q&A section is a good reason to bounce readers to the podcast. Literally, the Q&A is transcripts of Jocko and Leif answering a few questions from their listeners on the podcast.

There was nothing on which to update my assessment, notes, or review.

Here goes.

Extreme Ownership – Part I | Winning the War Within

On first reading I didn’t get any clear take-aways; at least they weren’t glaringly obvious.

So I went back through it and made this handy checklist of things to-and-not-to-do:

  • Accept ownership of everything. Everything.
  • Do not blame anyone else. Ever.
  • When your ego tells you it’s someone else’s fault, it’s lying to you. Don’t believe it.
  • If the team is performing poorly, it’s because you’re a bad leader. Be a good leader.
  • Even if you’re not the team leader, it’s your fault for not being a good leader. Be a good leader.
  • You must believe in your mission to impart belief in your mission to lead your team to success. Believe.
  • If you don’t believe, ask questions until you believe. Answer those same questions for your team. Then believe together.
  • If you believe that others on your team looking good makes you look bad, it’s your damned ego again. Ignore that motherfucker.

If any of the above don’t make sense to you, read the stories about how all of these conclusions can be derived from war and business in the book.

Extreme Ownership – Part II | Laws of Combat

I love checklists, and one was included in this section…

From Extreme Ownership – Chapter 7 | Prioritize and Execute

From p.162-163

“To implement Prioritize and Execute in any business, team, or organization, a leader must:

  • Evaluate the highest priority problem.
  • Lay out in simple, clear, and concise terms the highest priority effort for your team.
  • Develop and determine a solution, seek input from key leaders and from the team where possible.
  • Direct the execution of that solution, focusing all efforts and resources toward this priority task.
  • Move on to the next highest priority problem. Repeat.
  • When priorities shift within the team, pass situational awareness both up and down the chain.
  • Don’t let the focus on one priority cause target fixation. Maintain the ability to see other problems developing and rapidly shift as needed.”

The rest of this section (before and after Chapter 7) contained the following:

  • Know your enemy. Hint: He’s not the guy standing next to you fighting for the same thing.
  • Work together, or “Cover and Move.” Allow your teammates to move while you cover, and vice versa.
  • KISS. Keep it (the plan) simple, Soldier.
  • Prioritize and Execute (see the above checklist from p. 162-163).
  • Teams within teams. You need a leader for every group of 4-6 people.
  • Each leader needs specific objectives and boundaries with which to make their own calls.

Extreme Ownership – Part III | Sustaining Victory

You’re probably getting used to the idea that I like checklists. This section had two of them.

  • First, on p. 207-208, there’s a “leader’s checklist for planning a mission.” (Primary bullets only – check out the book for the whole deal.)
    • Analyze the mission.
    • Identify personnel, assets, resources, and time available.
    • Decentralize the planning process.
    • Determine a specific course of action.
    • Empower key leaders to develop the plan for the selected course of action.
    • Plan for likely contingencies through each phase of the operation.
    • Mitigate risks that can be controlled as much as possible.
    • Delegate portions of the plan and brief to key junior leaders.
    • Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to ensure it still fits the situation.
    • Brief the plan to all participants and supporting assets.
    • Conduct post-operational debrief after execution.
  • But more important is the checklist on p. 238, for “leading up and down the chain of command.”
    • Take responsibility for leading everyone in your world, subordinates and superiors alike.
    • If someone isn’t doing what you want or need them to do, look in the mirror first and determine what you can do to better enable this.
    • Don’t ask your leader what you should do, tell them what you are going to do.

I’m still pondering my three things for Extreme Ownership… But I’m pretty sure all three will come from the last two chapters.

Last updated 11/21/2017

Extreme Ownership | Authors

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – Books

Extreme Ownership

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin co-own Echelon Front, LLC and wrote a book called Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win (New Edition), which I just read and reviewed.

Actually, I read and reviewed the original version, which I’ll be updating after the new version is released next week (11/21/2017).

Jocko Willink – Other Media

Podcast

You can listen to Jocko’s podcast here.

Social Media

You can follow Jocko on Facebook here, and Twitter here.

Leif Babin – Other Media

Social Media

You can follow Leif on Facebook here, and Twitter here.

Echelon Front – Live Events

Echelon Front, LLC also offers live events, which you can discover here.

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Last Updated: 7/2/2020