Book: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin


Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.


You don’t need to formally be a leader, nobody had to put you in that position, but you still can own the situation.

No excuses, no bullshitting, just ownership.

Extreme ownership gives you power. Power to own every situation, to never stop searching for the ways what you can do to shape the world.

Initiative is hard and demanding. You have to work hard, keep your word and not sheepishly follow the crowd, you have to put yourself out there.

But lack of initiative is depressing and disempowering.

Amazon Link

Jocko Willink

Jocko is former commander of Task Force Bruiser, the most decorated unit in Afghanistan. They were fighting in the battle of Ramadi, the most brutal urban environment in afghan war. He has a podcast about leadership and discipline.

Jocko is fond of saying that discipline equals freedom.

And he gave a TED talk too!


Ego is the enemy.

That is a common thread in the many recent books I’ve read. Ego is the enemy obviously, Astronauts guide to life on earth, Tools of Titans  and few more are conveying that you should focus less on yourself and more on the team and how can you support it. Victory is for team players.

For leaders, the humility to admit and own mistakes and develop a plan to overcome them is essential to success. The best leaders are not driven by ego or personal agendas. They are simply focused on the mission and how best to accomplish it.

What is interesting is that I see this turn towards stoicism only recently. It seems that in 80s and 90s the path to win was to be the loudest talker with the biggest suit. If you could scream more, you were a winner.

But now I sense kind of Sun-Tzu approach of knowing yourself and being like water. I cannot articulate it better, maybe the authors of the books I read form a tight circle.

Concept of leading up the chain of command.

Take responsibility for leading everyone in your world, subordinates and superiors alike

When we hear about leadership, most of us don’t perk up and focus since we tend to think of leadership as someone elses problem. More than that, it is usually someone else’s screwup.

Being happy with leadership isn’t common, since no-one is perfect and its all too easy to find faults and put blame.But concept of extreme ownership doesn’t allow you to do that.

Boss is tough on you or making you do something you don’t like? You own that situation.

  • Did you give her enough information?
  • Did you make her trust you?
  • Did you prove yourself co they don’t have to hand-hold?

Concept of leading UP the chain of command really strikes me as useful since it puts power in my hands, can be immediately applied and actually does something to make the situation better. It caused me to reflect if I am indeed providing enough information so my superiors can make good decisions.

My highlights

  • Between the Vietnam War and the Global War on Terrorism, the U.S. military experienced a thirty-year span of virtually no sustained combat operations.
  • Cover and Move, Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command.
  • The only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails.
  • For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders, there are only two that matter: effective and ineffective. Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win. Ineffective leaders do not.
  • For leaders, the humility to admit and own mistakes and develop a plan to overcome them is essential to success. The best leaders are not driven by ego or personal agendas. They are simply focused on the mission and how best to accomplish it.
  • Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.
  • If an individual on the team is not performing at the level required for the team to succeed, the leader must train and mentor that underperformer. But if the underperformer continually fails to meet standards, then a leader who exercises Extreme Ownership must be loyal to the team and the mission above any individual. If underperformers cannot improve, the leader must make the tough call to terminate them and hire others who can get the job done. It is all on the leader.
  • “Maybe not so much here to help you, but here to help the situation,”
  • When a bad SEAL leader walked into a debrief and blamed everyone else, that attitude was picked up by subordinates and team members, who then followed suit. They all blamed everyone else, and inevitably the team was ineffective and unable to properly execute a plan.
  • Each boat had a roman numeral painted in bright yellow on the front, indicating the boat crew number—all except the boat crew made up of the shortest men in the class, known as the “Smurf crew.” They had a bright blue Smurf painted on the bow of their boat.
  • one of the most fundamental and important truths at the heart of Extreme Ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
  • as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.
  • No matter how obvious his or her failing, or how valid the criticism, a Tortured Genius, in this sense, accepts zero responsibility for mistakes, makes excuses, and blames everyone else for their failings (and those of their team).
  • In order to convince and inspire others to follow and accomplish a mission, a leader must be a true believer in the mission. Even when others doubt and question the amount of risk, asking, “Is it worth it?” the leader must believe in the greater cause.
  • If frontline leaders and troops understand why, they can move forward, fully believing in what they are doing.
  • The leader must explain not just what to do, but why.
  • Ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism. It can even stifle someone’s sense of self-preservation.
  • Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own.
  • Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility.
  • Your superintendent may not have really understood how his failure to follow procedure and get approval for these changes would result in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost. Do you think that is possible?”
  • “Remember, it’s not about you,” I continued. “It’s not about the drilling superintendent. It’s about the mission and how best to accomplish it. With that attitude exemplified in you and your key leaders, your team will dominate.”
  • Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success. When plans and orders are too complicated, people may not understand them. And when things go wrong, and they inevitably do go wrong, complexity compounds issues that can spiral out of control into total disaster.
  • Teams must be careful to avoid target fixation on a single issue.
  • Every tactical-level team leader must understand not just what to do but why they are doing it.
  • senior leaders must constantly communicate and push information—what we call in the military “situational awareness”—to their subordinate leaders. Likewise, junior leaders must push situational awareness up the chain to their senior leaders to keep them informed, particularly of crucial information that affects strategic decision making.
  • With SEAL Teams—just as with any team in the business world—there are leaders who try to take on too much themselves.
  • Contrary to a common misconception, leaders are not stuck in any particular position. Leaders must be free to move to where they are most needed, which changes throughout the course of an operation.
  • Situations will sometimes require that the boss walk away from a problem and let junior leaders solve it, even if the boss knows he might solve it more efficiently.
  • A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep.
  • A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep. To prevent this, the mission must be carefully refined and simplified so that it is explicitly clear and specifically focused to achieve the greater strategic vision for which that mission is a part.
  • A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep. To prevent this, the mission must be carefully refined and simplified so that it is explicitly clear and specifically focused to achieve the greater strategic vision for which that mission is a part.
  • The mission must explain the overall purpose and desired result, or “end state,” of the operation
  • While a simple statement, the Commander’s Intent is actually the most important part of the brief.
  • Giving the frontline troops ownership of even a small piece of the plan gives them buy-in, helps them understand the reasons behind the plan, and better enables them to
  • It must be repeatable and guide users with a checklist of all the important things they need to think about
    • Analyze the mission. —Understand higher headquarters’ mission, Commander’s Intent, and endstate (the goal). —Identify and state your own Commander’s Intent and endstate for the specific mission.
    • Identify personnel, assets, resources, and time available. Decentralize the planning process. —Empower key leaders within the team to analyze possible courses of action.
    • Determine a specific course of action. —Lean toward selecting the simplest course of action. —Focus efforts on the best 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. —Stand back and be the tactical genius.
    • 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. —Emphasize Commander’s Intent. —Ask questions and engage in discussion and interaction with the team to ensure they understand. •
    • Conduct post-operational debrief after execution. —Analyze lessons learned and implement them in future planning.
  • repeatable checklist others with less experience can follow.”
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  • “As a leader, if you are down in the weeds planning the details with your guys,” said Jocko, “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.
  • But I could have done a far better job as a leader to understand for myself the strategic impact of our operations and passed this insight to my troops.
  • “We are here. We are on the ground. We need to push situational awareness up the chain,” Jocko said. “If they have questions, it is our fault for not properly communicating the information they need. We have to lead them.”
  • A public display of discontent or disagreement with the chain of command undermines the authority of leaders at all levels.
  • 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.
  • better info about projects gloing on
  • the picture could never be complete. There was always some element of risk. There was no 100-percent right solution.
  • Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.


Book: Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday


Dont panic. It will be ok. One foot at a time.

This book is ultimately about perseverance. Ryan gives examples about how we can use stoic philosophy to deal with current situation and to end victorious.





  1. Keep cool head
  2. Observe, dont feel, assess the situation
  3. What can you change? How can you do it better?
  4. Give it your 100%
  5. Seriously
  6. Now invent new approaches. Think outside the box
  7. Again
  8. You can loose anyway
  9. You control only you
  10. You’ll die anyway

All that kind of reminds me of Observe, Orient, Work approach described by Hadfield and recommended by NASA.

Obstacle can also be beneficial. Breaks you out of your comfort zone and forces to learn skills and make contacts that will make you successful in the future.

I also find that the more often you face and overcome and obstacle, the easier it becomes in the future.

In regard to companies, the industry-wide obstacle is weeding out the competition.

Honestly, I found a lot of this very intuitive, but I am not dealing with any issue right now.

But the main takeway is: dont panic. It will be ok. One foot at a time.

My Clippings

  • Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?
  • It teaches you how to get unstuck, unfucked, and unleashed.
  • We’re soft, entitled, and scared of conflict.
  • Great times are great softeners. Abundance
  • Objective judgment, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now at this very moment—of all external events. That’s all you need. —MARCUS AURELIUS
  • To be objective To control emotions and keep an even keel To choose to see the good in a situation To steady our nerves To ignore what disturbs or limits others To place things in perspective To revert to the present moment To focus on what can be controlled
  • Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been. —MARCUS AURELIUS
  • We decide whether we’ll assent or reject. No one can force us to give up or to believe something that is untrue (such as, that a situation is absolutely hopeless or impossible to improve). Our perceptions are the thing that we’re in complete control of.
  • did not have much power, but he understood that that was not the same thing as being powerless.
  • “Nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” as Shakespeare put it.
  • Just because your mind tells you that something is awful or evil or unplanned or otherwise negative doesn’t mean you have to agree.
  • Like: I refuse to acknowledge that. I don’t agree to be intimidated. I resist the temptation to declare this a failure.
  • There is always a countermove, always an escape or a way through, so there is no reason to get worked up. No one said it would be easy and, of course, the stakes are high, but the path is there for those ready to take
  • Real strength lies in the control or, as Nassim Taleb put it, the domestication of one’s emotions, not in pretending they don’t exist.
  • Do I need to freak out about this?
  • Don’t let the force of an impression when it first hit you knock you off your feet; just say to it: Hold on a moment; let me see who you are and what you represent. Let me put you to the test. —EPICTETUS
  • The perceiving eye is weak, he wrote; the observing eye is strong.
  • Nietzsche, sometimes being superficial—taking things only at first glance—is the most profound approach.
  • Marcus Aurelius had a version of this exercise where he’d describe glamorous or expensive things without their euphemisms—roasted meat is a dead animal and vintage wine is old, fermented grapes. The aim was to see these things as they really are, without any of the ornamentation.
  • Take your situation and pretend it is not happening to you.
  • He was the answer to their prayers, not the other way around. That
  • And what is up to us? Our emotions Our judgments Our creativity Our attitude Our perspective Our desires Our decisions Our determination
  • The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up. —CHUCK PALAHNIUK
  • Socrates had a mean, nagging wife; he always said that being married to her was good practice for philosophy.
  • We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out. —THEODORE ROOSEVELT
  • For some reason, these days we tend to downplay the importance of aggression, of taking risks, of barreling forward. It’s probably because it’s been negatively associated with certain notions of violence or masculinity.
  • Too many people think that great victories like Grant’s and Edison’s came from a flash of insight. That they cracked the problem with pure genius. In fact, it was the slow pressure, repeated from many different angles, the elimination of so many other more promising options, that slowly and surely churned the solution to the top of the pile. Their genius was unity of purpose, deafness to doubt, and the desire to stay at it.
  • Working at it works. It’s that simple. (But again, not easy.)
  • Great entrepreneurs are: never wedded to a position never afraid to lose a little of their investment never bitter or embarrassed never out of the game for long
  • break it down into pieces. Simply do what you need to do right now. And do it well.
  • Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires.
  • To whatever we face, our job is to respond with: hard work honesty helping others as best we can
  • The great psychologist Viktor Frankl, survivor of three concentration camps, found presumptuousness in the age-old question: “What is the meaning of life?” As though it is someone else’s responsibility to tell you. Instead, he said, the world is asking you that question. And it’s your job to answer with your actions.
  • don’t care if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.”
  • “Don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic.”
  • never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Things that we had
  • exercise in hindsight—in advance. She is using a technique designed by psychologist Gary Klein known as a premortem.
  • premeditatio malorum (premeditation of evils).
  • Say it with me: C’est la vie. It’s all fine.
  • Letters used to be signed “Deo volente”—God willing. Because who knew what would happen?
  • To do great things, we need to be able to endure tragedy and setbacks.
  • this: loving whatever happens to us and facing it with unfailing cheerfulness.
  • This is what I’ve got to do or put up with? Well, I might as well be happy about it.
  • When Antonio Pigafetta, the assistant to Magellan on his trip around the world, reflected on his boss’s greatest and most admirable skill, what do you think he said? It had nothing to do with sailing. The secret to his success, Pigafetta said, was Magellan’s ability to endure hunger better than the other men.
  • We can turn even this to our advantage. Always.
  • And if our only option—as was the case with Marcus—because of someone else’s greed or lust for power, is simply to be a good person and practice forgiveness? Well, that’s still a pretty good option.