How to Apply Extreme Ownership

A concept by retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink

Baqsam Behbehani
Change Your Mind Change Your Life
4 min readJul 26, 2021


A man who looks like he could be an old Navy SEAL
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink has bestowed a heap of wisdom upon us, from encouraging us to find the good in hardship to promoting the concept of extreme ownership.

Extreme ownership is simply taking above-average responsibility over your actions.

Jocko has discussed extreme ownership on his successful podcast as well as his appropriately titled book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. Clearly, the book places an emphasis on SEALs, but the advice is universally applicable, especially if you listen to Jocko’s podcast.

The concept of extreme ownership is quite simple, but applying it can be difficult, so let us go through imaginary scenarios in which it can be applied. Bad situations will be presented with a complaint, but each complaint will be negated with extreme ownership.

A man seemingly in pain
Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Extreme Ownership Examples

Building an online business

It’s been more than two years, and I’ve barely generated cents from my online business. I’ve written the recommended minimum of articles, which is 30, and shared my work on social media. Yet, I spent more on my website’s hosting than I made through Google AdSense and Amazon Associates.

Now, if I exercise extreme ownership, I will quickly realize my flaws. I only wrote the bare minimum. Furthermore, I wrote about a topic that has been overdone since the 90s. To add insult to injury, I’m writing about it on my own instead of having a team like my competitors.

Being underpaid at work

I’m fed up working at Walmart. Their pay is not that great, and the work environment is not the best. I asked to be a stocker to avoid interacting with people, but they forced me to be a cashier, and coworkers keep complaining that I’m grumpy.

In reality, my poor performance at school as well as my avoidance of self education led me to taking this job. If I did better in the past, I’d simply not need a job like this one I’m complaining about.

Living in a bad place

I’m going to yell at the landlord the next time I see her. My apartment keeps flooding no matter how many times I beg the landlord to fix the plumbing. I don’t know why a man can’t live in peace in this world. Is an apartment that doesn’t flood too much to ask for?

Well, if I didn’t waste the money I inherited, and if I pursued better career options, I wouldn’t have had to live in the worst apartment building and in the worst town. Sure, the landlord should be more proactive about repairs, but I’m admittedly getting what I paid for, which includes a bad landlord.

Getting in shape

I can’t stand the thought of going to the gym one more time. I’ve been going for nine months straight with no results. I’ve yet to receive a single compliment from my peers. I’m still the same skinny fat guy who doesn’t look like he’s even smelled a weight in his life.

In reality, I go a random number of times a week. When I do go, I go at night when I know I’m the most tired. That’s because I’d rather do other stuff first, like work and hanging out with friends. Plus, I can’t be bothered to log my calories into MyFitnessPal and weigh myself daily.

Getting a nose job

I can’t believe how badly the plastic surgeon butchered my nose. I also can’t believe how gorgeous my old nose looked in retrospect. I can barely even breathe now. The plastic surgeon was that bad. I’m going to ask for a refund, and if I don’t get one, I’m pressing charges.

The thing is, though, that I could have just been contempt with my old nose. It was just a minor nuisance, and people seldom commented on it. Moreover, my research for a plastic surgeon was limited. This one plastic surgeon just had a cool YouTube ad as well as impressive befores and afters on his site.

A man jumping in nature
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

You may have noticed common themes in the complaints above, which include not being contempt and not putting enough effort to secure a better future. In any case, extreme ownership is needed now that a bad situation has happened.

Sit back and ponder upon bad situations in your life that you once fully blamed others for. Even the ones you blame others for partially, you may deserve a bigger part of the blame if not the entire blame. Then, see what role you can have in reversing those mishaps.

If you hate your Walmart job, it’s time to educate yourself on how you can seek a better career instead of blaming Walmart for a job it never forced you to take. In fact, working at Walmart may not be as bad as you make it seem, so you can also take extreme ownership of how you may view things negatively.