Mar 14, 2021

25 Quotes from Extreme Ownership book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Namaste friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Detailing the mindset and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult combat missions, Extreme Ownership demonstrates how to apply them to any team or organization, in any leadership environment.


Leadership is the most important factor on the battlefield, the single greatest reason behind the success of any team. - Extreme Ownership

Combat is reflective of life, only amplified and intensified. Decisions have immediate consequences, and everything - absolutely everything - is at stake. The right decision, even when all seems lost, can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The wrong decision, even when a victorious outcome seems all but certain, can result in deadly, catastrophic failure. - Extreme Ownership

On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. - Extreme Ownership

Whether a team succeeds or fails is all up to the leader. The leader’s attitude sets the tone for the entire team. - Extreme Ownership

Leaders should never be satisfied. They must always strive to improve, and they must build that mind-set into the team. - Extreme Ownership

Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done and win. - Extreme Ownership

In order to convince and inspire others to follow and accomplish a mission, a leader must be a true believer in the mission. - Extreme Ownership

Leadership isn’t one person leading a team. It is a group of leaders working together, up and down the chain of command, to lead. If you are on your own, I don’t care how good you are, you won’t be able to handle it. - Extreme Ownership

Almost no mission ever goes according to plan. There are simply too many variables to deal with. This is where simplicity is key. If the plan is simple enough, everyone understands it, which means each person can rapidly adjust and modify what he or she is doing. - Extreme Ownership

A leader who tries to take on too many problems simultaneously will likely fail at them all. - Extreme Ownership

SEALs are known for taking significant risk, but in reality SEALs calculate risk very carefully. - Extreme Ownership

As a leader, if you are down in the weeds planning the details with your guys, you will have the same perspective as them, which adds little value. But if you let them plan the details, it allows them to own their piece of the plan. And it allows you to stand back and see everything with a different perspective, which adds tremendous value. You can then see the plan from a greater distance, a higher altitude, and you will see more. - Extreme Ownership

Leadership doesn’t just flow down the chain of command, but up as well. We have to own everything in our world. That’s what Extreme Ownership is all about. - Extreme Ownership

Leaders in any chain of command will not always agree. But at the end of the day, once the debate on a particular course of action is over and the boss has made a decision - even if that decision is one you argued against - you must execute the plan as if it were your own. - Extreme Ownership

There is no 100 percent right solution. The picture is never complete. Leaders must be comfortable with this and be able to make decisions promptly, then be ready to adjust those decisions quickly based on evolving situations and new information. - Extreme Ownership

Every leader must walk a fine line. That’s what makes leadership so challenging. Just as discipline and freedom are opposing forces that must be balanced, leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities, between one extreme and another. The simple recognition of this is one of the most powerful tools a leader has. - Extreme Ownership

A leader must lead but also be ready to follow. - Extreme Ownership

A true leader is not intimidated when others step up and take charge. Leaders that lack confidence in themselves fear being outshined by someone else. - Extreme Ownership

A leader must control his or her emotions. If not, how can they expect to control anything else? Leaders who lose their temper also lose respect. - Extreme Ownership

Confidence is contagious, a great attribute for a leader and a team. But when it goes too far, overconfidence causes complacency and arrogance, which ultimately set the team up for failure. - Extreme Ownership

A leader must be attentive to details but not obsessed by them. - Extreme Ownership

A leader must be strong but likewise have endurance, not only physically but mentally. - Extreme Ownership

Leaders must recognize limitations and know to pace themselves and their teams so that they can maintain a solid performance indefinitely. - Extreme Ownership

A leader must be close with subordinates but not too close. [...] A leader must never grow so close to subordinates that one member of the team becomes more important than another, or more important than the mission itself. Leaders must never get so close that the team forgets who is in charge. - Extreme Ownership

A person’s biggest strength can be his greatest weakness when he doesn’t know how to balance it. - Extreme Ownership