Extreme Ownership for College 1.3: Believe

Cool bits that interested me from the terrific book “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Part 3 of 12.

I’ll focus on what 21-year old, just-graduated, tech-loving kids (people like me) or college students can relate to. Hopefully there’s some value in these articles even if you don’t fit that demographic. This is not a summary of the book by any means. My goal will be to give my perspective on these lessons and hopefully incite some thoughts from you, the reader. Let’s begin.

My copy of “Extreme Ownership”

“The leader must explain not just what to do, but why (Page 78)

This chapter talks a lot about how any leader should must figure out a way to truly believe in the mission. Once they — as the top of the chain of command — do so, then that conviction is more likely to trickle down. How is this applicable in college? Though you and your peers may not ever be grouped up like in the SEAL teams for a project or club, generally someone takes the mantle of management. This is the person who checks in with everyone and holds everyone accountable. Often times it can be easy to sit back and lose interest in the task of hand. Maybe outside pressures from the other thousand things you have to deal with as a college student or just the feeling that whatever you are doing doesn’t have substance (believe me, I’ve been there) can make it easy to stop going full throttle.

One of the main differences between a leader and a regular person is the conviction. The motivation should be palpable, so much so that others working with them shouldn’t have any questions about what you are doing. Working on a project with several sleepless nights? The “leader” (once again, not necessarily someone who verbally claims to be one) should be able to explain the need of doing the project in that specific manner and must justify why the project needs sleepless nights. In a place like college, it’s definitely possible for people to share conviction for something together. That is, no one person is responsible for explaining the why. Though ideal, it shouldn’t be expected.

Another fundamental issue to consider is that we react differently and have different motivations. The challenge with being a leader is figuring out what motivates each person. Then the secondary part of that challenge is tying the fundamental why with the respective person’s motivation. When that can be done, your team will be unstoppable.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Willink, Jocko, and Leif Babin. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. Macmillan, 2018.



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