The art of extreme ownership.

The art of extreme ownership.

The art of extreme ownership.

In Success on the Far Side of Fifty I share tried and proven tips and strategies that, if applied, will most certainly help you gain all that you want out of life.

But most of us will never attain the level of success that we aspire to and we all have the same general problem. We simply don’t take the appropriate level of ownership over our lives.

Most of us start out with high aspirations for our lives, but simply don’t put in the effort to get what we want. As a result we spend the best years of our lives in jobs we don’t love and fill in the rest of our days with television and social media.

But, we all need hope, so we buy lottery tickets (nothing wrong with that if kept to a reasonable level) and hope that we win enough money to change our lives.

Rather than take absolute responsibility for our lives the majority of us would rather just go through the motions and “hope’ something better comes                                                                                      along.

Let me lay it out for you.

A better life is not going to show up at your door, you have to go out and get it!! 

Most of us are not going to win a massive lottery, nor will some rich uncle bestow wealth upon us. Similarly we are not going to wish ourselves into being happier, healthier or more productive. We simply need to work for those things and that starts with accepting personal accountability.

The real problem with not taking personal accountability for your circumstances is what it does to you on the inside.

Last week I met some old friends for a beer. I worked with these men over 28 years ago and we all started in the same jobs at the same time.  Over the years I worked my ass off and as a result I received many promotions. While I was working hard at self-improvement these fellows stayed in the same jobs. Over the years I continually increased my skills in diverse areas while these gentlemen stayed in the same jobs.

I became a wealthy business owner and they stayed broke.

For over an hour these gentlemen sat over their beer complaining. They complained about their bosses, the government and the economy. They repeatedly reinforced their opinions on just how unfairly they had been treated by life.

Even though both of these fellows were over retirement age, they both said they couldn’t afford to retire and they had nothing to do even if they did.

I was stunned. Not only had they spent the best years of their lives in jobs that they had no passion or enthusiasm for they were planning to continue doing the same thing.

Although I knew better, I gave them what I think was great advice. I reminded them that we live in times of great opportunity and no matter what their age, each of them had acquired skills that could be used to enjoy a much higher standard of living.

Unfortunately none of these men could see their way to accepting accountability and rather than take any risk in life they elected to stay in their jobs then go to the pub and complain about it.

How sad, these dear old friends of mine were so mired in self-pity that they no longer saw any path to freedom.

I contrasted their perspectives with my own. At roughly the same age as them I live in a world full of potential and possibility.

The impacts of extreme accountability (or the lack of it)  are as much mental as physical.

While my friends had given up the responsibility for their own lives I took control of mine. While they lost personal power I gained it.

Thankfully the topic eventually moved on to happier subjects and after an enjoyable evening we all went our separate ways.

Since then I have replayed those conversations in my mind and come to the conclusion that setting high standards for our lives is always a challenge, but most certainly worth the effort.

I realized that;

Extreme Ownership is always a struggle (at least for me).

As a young man I had to be independent. It wasn’t easy but there was simply no one around for me to rely on, so I had to take life into my own hands.

I accepted responsibility and made a plan, and for over 30 years I have held true to that plan.

I took ownership because I had no alternative.

I didn’t know it then, but by taking ownership I accepted my personal power. I committed to bettering myself and that commitment changed me.

For years I lived in fear of other people’s opinions and spent a great deal of time hiding in the shadows, afraid that people would see my weaknesses and errors. Through personal growth I have stopped hiding my mistakes, my weaknesses and flaws and I have learned to become more comfortable with sharing all aspects of myself with the world.

Despite taking ownership of my life I face daily challenges. I get lazy, I procrastinate, I neglect my exercise, I make poor decisions. I look on the past with regret.  I struggle to reach my goals and I am sometimes disappointed with my own behavior.

In fact I could give you a long list of personal faults that I still need to work on. Sometimes I feel that I have to work insanely hard for little bits scraps of progress.

But part of extreme ownership means that I am dedicated to fully accepting myself, even when I am not I am not at my best. Extreme ownership means that I love myself even if I don’t feel loveable.

For me, at least, life is still a struggle. Day in and day out I work hard at putting out my best efforts, even if they are not always recognised.

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” – John Wooden

For me at least;

The focus has to be on continuous improvement

My goal of extreme ownership will never be fully achieved. I will always have more work to do and I know it. Whenever I improve some little aspect of my life I learn enough to know there is still more to be done.

But my true goal isn’t the achievement of some nirvana-like state where I have perfect control over every nuance of my life. My true goal is to know that I am making small improvements on a continual basis.

The Japanese refer to the notion of continual improvement as Kaizan, you can find a Wiki explanation of it HERE.

I feel that in order to feel fulfilled people need to have a sense of purpose and progress.

But, as always, my ideas are backed by truth and following is the truth of what extreme ownership has done for me.

Extreme ownership – the benefits;

For me personally the benefits of extreme ownership include;

  • A reduction of stress. I act upon the world rather than having it act upon me,
  • An increase in self-worth. I am now much better at keeping the agreements I make with myself. I rarely feel disappointed with my actions,
  • I have greater self-awareness. Accepting all accountability for my life means that I have turned inward and become much more aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a result I make better use of them,
  • Increased trust with others. Because I accept responsibility for all of my actions I am dependable and easy for people to rely on. Because I keep commitments I am trusted and never blame others for my mistakes and challenges,
  • Greater goal achievement across the board. Because I keep many more of the agreements I make with myself I get more done. If I say I want to start a new workout program I do it. If I decide to make changes to my business I do it, even if I have to get over my own fear and reluctance,
  • Greater control over my own ego. Many of my worst decisions have been a result of my ego. I have lost friends because I wouldn’t apologise for my actions. I have stubbornly hung on to wrong ideas because of my ego. By accepting my own accountability I now work hard to keep my ego in check.


I hope you can see that the benefits of Extreme Ownership far outweigh the challenges associate with implementing it. But if you want a different perspective on Extreme Ownership check out THIS Video.

John “Jocko” Willink is a super passionate Ex-Navy Seal who was the Commander of Seal Team Three during the battle of Ramadi in Iraqi. Jocko received both the Bronze and Silver Stars for his actions in battle.  He is also a business coach, podcaster and coauthor of the leadership manual “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win”.

Are you ready to take extreme ownership of your life?

Let me know and feel free to send me an email or leave a comment.

In closing remember the words of Leonardo Di Vinci who said;

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”