Jocko Willinks – Extreme Ownership

This is a pretty cool video and book about taking ownership when things go wrong.

This relates to the psychological state of ‘learned helplessness’ which is defined as:

“a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression.”

To completely avoid this sense of powerlessness, when anything goes wrong, instead of first looking to blame things out of your control like other people and not having enough time; look first to see if you could have changed something.

A classic is when people say “I don’t have enough time”, instead of “I could do that, but I would need to reprioritise things” or “I can’t find the time because I’m obsessed with MMA and train every night!”. Usually to protect the ego (sub consciously) or because of a level of learned helplessness, people will avoid citing factors that are under their own control.

There’s Never an Excuse – Empower Yourself

Another example- say you lose an MMA fight, instead of blaming the ref, or bad luck, analyse your own performance and preparation and see if you could have done something differently. This empowers you and motivates you to correct things and move forward, instead of sulking and potentially giving up.

Weight loss is another one – “gyms are too expensive”, “I don’t have time to exercise”, “fruit and veg is so expensive” etc.  You could afford a gym if you cancelled satellite TV, or you could train at home or go for a run or hike instead of paying for the gym.

Another important scenario – when you have an argument with a friend, instead of playing the victim, think about what you should have done differently. This empowers you to be your own boss in life, instead of being passive and blaming others for your shortcomings.

You can also take ownership of problems and issues when you’re in groups, instead of letting someone else take care of it, do it yourself. For example, yesterday I took extreme ownership by changing the toilet roll in work, even though there was about 10% of it left…

Avoid using phrases like “I wish” and “what will be, will be” and instead of finger pointing and blaming other people, take ownership and first look to see if you could have done something differently. Classic example – you’re a manager and one of your workers messes up – could you have made yourself more approachable? could you have trained the worker in a different way? Could you have communicated more effectively?

Victim Vs Extreme Ownership

Victim Mentality 
“I don’t have time to do that today”
Control is external, lack of time is out of your control.

Ownership Mentality
“I am prioritising something else at the moment, I will make time for it this week”
Control is internalised – you could do it but have chosen to do something more important


Victim Behaviour
You apply for a job, don’t hear back from the company, so sulk and complain about them to anyone who will listen.

Ownership Behaviour
Check the job listing to see if there’s a date as to when you should expect a response. Send an extremely polite and enthusiastic follow up email. If no reply in a 2 weeks, give them a ring and give some key reasons as to why you are interesting and that you wanted to show how enthusiastic you were etc. More info here.

There’s some scenarios were it might be beneficial to pretend to be a victim – but no actually believe it. Unfortunately modern society is set up to reward victim behavious sometimes. For example, if someone is really aggressive with you in work, you can take ownership by dragging the person outside and choking them unconscious (which is likely to get you fired), or you could wait outside HR in the fetal position until somebody asks what’s wrong. Unfortunately the HR method is more likely to result in a more favourable outcome.



About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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