January 28, 2019

 I decided to reprint the newsletter for Extreme Ownership as I find it so missing in society and critically important to our cultural survival. Too often we see people blame others for their own inner failings as a self saving event although in truth it is a personal failing and stagnation point.

"Leadership is infinitely more about brains than it is about brawn. The brawn stuff is from the movies and it doesn't work in reality." - Jocko Willink

Extreme Ownership - What is the essence of extreme ownership? Why is it a moto for children to learn today? Why are young people not practicing it now?

These are some of the questions that I pondered as I read the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink a few years ago. Jocko and Leif Babin were SEAL team leaders during the bloodiest and most battle sustained part of the Iraq war. Their leadership earned them countless military honors of success.

Jocko and Leif are battlefield leaders. What they learned in action became the basis of Echelon Front, a consulting leadership company. The book lays out the framework of leadership from a position of complete and total ownership of who you are, and how you affect every aspect of your team. They believe that this understanding can be used in any aspect of life, especially the business world.

Story: SEAL training in California is meant to find the leaders and weed out the weak. They have a boat race between teams of SEAL recruits. Six per boat with a designated crew leader. The boat is tasked with running a course and trying to get back to shore first. Winners get a rest. After multiple runs, boat crew 2 won every race while boat crew 6 lost the same.

Experiment: Switching boat crew leaders from boats 2 and 6, they re ran the course.

Result: Boat crew 6 wins and boat 2 comes in second. Miraculous!

The Why? The leader of boat crew 2 took over command of 6 with the same directive's and belief in his men as he had in boat 2. The men believed in him and put out the effort to win. Boat crew 2's new leader (formerly of 6) could no longer coast as his team still held true to the prior leaders beliefs. He had to step up his game just to compete with the stud crew, while watching his poorly performing old boat win.

Take home: Leadership is everything in team activities. The winning leader believed that he was responsible for the success of the team. He put out maximum effort. The team responded to the energy, direction and belief.

Translation into pediatrics and life:

Throughout the book, Jocko relates story upon story of owning your life. All of it. The mistakes and the successes. As a leader, if someone on your team messes up, it is your responsibility to own the mistake and help them with corrective action for the future. As a leader, there is no place for blame but at your seat. "it is my responsibility to have you ready for this event, if you failed, it is on me for not having you ready"

At every level of life we are leaders and followers. Whether on a sports team, in a classroom or in the back yard scrum, kids are practicing their skills daily. Defeat happens, success happens and change happens. What each child can do is own all of it. Be proud of good work, learn from mistakes, never blame others, stand in your power, be individual, be bold with thought, be growth minded and practice extreme ownership!

What is also very clear as Jocko points out is the reality that at times in life no matter what you have done as a leader to help a team member through the principles of good leadership and extreme ownership, the fit may be wrong and a team member needs to be replaced for the good of the team. As the recipient of a bad fit scenario, it is up to the jettisoned participant to learn from the event and own the new path that they are on. To blame the team for releasing you serves no purpose and is far too common today. To look objectively at the outcome, learn everything that you can and open your mind to the next chapter is key to growth and frankly is the essence of a growth mindset and future success.

I have personally been on both ends of this spectrum and I love to share my experiences with my children and patients so that they can see perceived failure turn into a learning experience and ultimately a new and beautiful chapter of life.

Read this book! It is rare that I resolutely recommend a book for all. Teach your child, especially teens, what self ownership is. It may be one of the greatest gifts they get from you. Who would not want to work with an individual who practices extreme ownership! I would go to the ends of my ability for a leader or co worker of this quality.

Own it for yourself, your spouse and your children,


Dr. M