Extreme Ownership for College 1.4: Check the Ego
Cool bits that interested me from the terrific book “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Part 4 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.
“when ego clouds our judgment and prevents us from seeing the world, as it is, then ego becomes destructive” (Page 100)
This chapter really resonated with me. I’ve had struggles with being cocky and seeing failure do that. In past situations, I’ve taken people or even situations for granted and been smacked in the face because I did so. Though having some ego is necessary to have self-respect, too much ego can lead to bad judgment calls.
When you are working on a team project with others, it can be easy to be disorganized and not give equal weight to what everyone is saying. This is probably due to ego since there’s that one (or a couple) person who wants to be heard and may even have some need to be perceived as the leader. The best functioning teams I have seen are ones where everyone speaks, everyone is heard and consequently, everyone is committed. I have been in positions where I have clashed with others because I felt I knew more. Even if I did, that shouldn’t give me license to behave as I want to and show off my knowledge. If anything, it is hurtful to the group dynamics and overall performance.
Everything, in retrospect, is easy to criticize. I am sure that you (as can I!) can recall tons of incidents where your arrogance has badly affected those around you. The important thing is to reflect upon what led to such behavior. If it is your ego, learn to temper it and use it to benefit you. I firmly believe that it is important to have ego because it can really help drive you to success. On the other hand, though, you need to make it sure it does not control you and make you complacent. It’s definitely a fine line, but one that I personally will never stop searching for.
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.