The context that Jocko introduced this was that in command meetings with the General (I’m likely using the wrong terminology but it shouldn’t matter), each of the Seal team leaders were asked what they needed, typical answers were new pieces of equipment or improvements in technology, Jocko’s answer was “we’re good Sir”. He never asked for anything in these sessions, instead taking ownership of what his team needed and sorting it himself. As he explained this served a few purposes, first a principle that I’ve discussed at length in past posts which is ‘control the controllables’, that is tick the boxes that you can tick before asking others to do it for you, second that it develops you as an individual – taking on new challenges rather than deferring to others and finally that if you genuinely do need something, because you never ask, you will tend to get it, and fast.
Whilst the use of this approach is clear in a military setting I hope that you are starting to think of some ways that you can apply it in your own civilian life. For my situation it really struck a chord, my natural reaction would be to offer excuses, I’m carrying knocks for sure but show me a rugby player who isn’t, or to blame the transition period between full time and part time sport but then that doesn’t excuse individual errors. Instead I chose to take on this idea of extreme ownership, when asked about my performances I’ve simply responded that I’ve not been good enough and I’m working on it.
Whilst this approach seems a little daunting to take on I’ve found (and it’s still early days) that it is actually empowering, you are essentially taking control of your own world and, rather than hiding behind the shitty little excuses we all tell each other all the time, it forces you to front up to your reality, see it for what it is and make the appropriate changes. I’ll often feel stiff and tight and the chimp wants to whinge about this, extreme ownership makes me ask myself what I’ve done about. Can I be honest with myself and say that I’ve done enough mobility exercises to change that situation? The answer is typically no the vast majority of the time so I’m challenged get after it and make the changes.
What all this essentially boils down to is having an internal locus of control and taking charge of your own life. It seems straightforward but how many of us actually do it? I hope that me sharing a personal example here has helped bring it home a little. Our natural reaction as humans is seemingly to project blame outwards when something doesn’t turn out as hoped, if more of us can take extreme ownership then we will likely get the outcomes we want in the future. Next time you feel the blame monkey getting involved think like the Navy Seal, say “we’re good” and start taking extreme ownership of your world.