Extreme ownership will put hair on your eyeballs

Former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink's video for Prager U may be the most manly motivational speech that you have heard since President Trump's inaugural address in 2017:

The comments to that video are just pure gold. It is impossible not to feel inspired by seeing a true Alpha male telling you to, basically, "DROP YOUR COCKS AND PICK UP YOUR SOCKS!!!". (Yes, I know, that's a Marine Corps slogan, but you get my point.)

I do not know anything about Jocko Willink, beyond the fact that I have seen his books in stores and have seen him appear on Toe Joe Rogan's podcast. He always struck me as a forceful, powerful personality with a lot of interesting, and in some cases truly harrowing, stories to tell. And when you see that video, and you watch his unflinchingly honest delivery of basic truths, you see a charismatic and skilled leader of men who understands what it means to be in command.

It is a scary place to be.

When you are in charge of the fates of other people, there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You are the Old Man, the Boss, the Chief. If you screw up, other people suffer. If you are in any kind of real combat and you make a mistake, people die.

That weighs heavily and hard on any man's conscience. The weak, the effeminate, the cowardly, and the foolish, and especially those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and for those under their command - or, in other words, Gammas - have absolutely no business being in that place.

The worst thing about being in a leadership position is that, when one of your people cocks up, the ultimate responsibility lies upon you. This is not pleasant, especially when you have someone in a position for which he is temperamentally and/or physically unsuited, and you can do nothing to remove him. He will make a mess of things repeatedly and severely, and the shit from his failures will always end up all over you.

And it just doesn't matter.

As Jocko Willink points out, ultimately it is all on you. If someone under your command messes up, it might as well have been you making the mistake. Nobody who depends on you to do your job is going to be interested in listening to your excuses.

So it is not surprising that taking that level of responsibility is truly terrifying for most people.

But it is also profoundly liberating.

You are in charge. You have power. You get to make real decisions, often with nobody but the Lord Himself above you in any practical sense. You have the ability to decide the course of men's lives. And you can be as good at your job as you want to be.

Jocko Willink articulates a lesson that I learned very much the hard way, but he does a much better job of it than I ever did.

As I have pointed out before, everything in your life that is not the way you want it, is your own damn fault.

This is a deeply painful and jarring realisation. It hurts beyond words to accept this. You can't duck responsibility. You can't blame someone else. You can't run to mummy and ask her to make it all better.

That is not what real men do.

Real men face up to their problems. Real men admit their mistakes and take full ownership for them. Real men strive to be better and fix themselves.

And in the process, real men embrace the freedom that comes with leadership.

That is why Mr. Willink points out that his philosophy of extreme ownership leads to real freedom. The moment that you accept that no one in this world is responsible for your happiness other than you, and that no one in this world is responsible for your mistakes other than you, that is the moment when you can start living the life that you want.

If you mess up, it's on you.

But if you succeed, you own the rewards.

That is the difference in mindset between a free man and a slave.

A slave blames others for what went wrong - and therefore has no claim to any rewards from what went right.

A free man blames himself for what went wrong - and therefore has full claim to any rewards from what went right.

Ask yourself which one you want to be. The answer should be obvious, but most men are too afraid to understand it.


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