Jocko Willink – The Joe Rogan Experience #729

Key Takeaways

  • War is the ultimate human test – People from both sides are trying to kill the other, it’s life or death
  • There are two types of will you need to have if you’re going to war:
    • “One is the will to kill people… and you also have to have the will to die”
  • The principles of leadership don’t change whether your mission is to capture and kill bad guys or to manufacture and sell something
    • In both cases, you have to take a diverse group of people and unify them to accomplish a mission in the most effective and efficient manner
  • The best leaders are ones who take extreme ownership and complete responsibility for problems
    • Don’t let your ego make you feel as if you’re too good to make mistakes, no one’s perfect
  • You can destroy ideas with military force
    • Nazism, imperial Japan, and slavery no longer exist because people went to war against those that held these ideas
  • When you travel around the globe and see what the rest of the world is like, you become more patriotic as you start to appreciate how great America really is
  • Discipline equals freedom: the more discipline you have in life, the more freedom you’ll have
    • If you have the discipline to save money and invest it wisely, you’ll have more financial freedom later on in life
    • If you have the discipline to wake up early and not waste time on mindless activities, you’ll have more freedom to pursue your hobbies and passions
  • The minute you start saying, “I learned everything there is to learn about this,” is the day you start to lose
    • Always stay humble and be hungry to learn more

Intro

  • Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) is a podcaster, author, and retired United States Navy SEAL. He hosts the Jocko Podcast.
  • Jock was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War
    • He was a commander of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the Battle of Ramadi
  • This was Jocko’s first appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience

Books Mentioned

A Little Bit About Jocko Willink

  • Joe saw Jocko several times at various UFC events but didn’t learn about his background until he listened to Tim Ferriss’ first podcast with him
    • One of the highlights of the interview: Jocko posts a picture of his watch every day he wakes up (Why? – He usually gets up at the astonishing hour of 4:45 AM)
  • Jocko and his former teammate, Leif Babin, wrote the book Extreme Ownership to share leadership lessons from combat

Combat: The Ultimate Test

  • Jocko’s life long dream was to be in a leadership role during combat
    • He took part in the Battle of Ramadi in 2006 which was one of the worst places in the world at that time 
      • “I feel like my whole life was preparing me for that position”
      • War is the ultimate human test – People from both sides are trying to kill the other, it’s life or death
  • “Combat is like life, but amplified and intensified”
    • The consequences are everything and there are no higher stakes, you can easily die
  • Even though war can be horrible, many veterans say it’s the best part of their lives (including Jocko)
    • “There’s no doubt about it, best time of my life”
      • Jocko wasn’t worried about getting himself hurt or killed during combat, he was worried about his teammates – “That’s the most important thing and the thing keeping you awake at night”
  • The insurgents Jocko and American forces were fighting were true bad guys – they tortured, beheaded, raped, and skinned people 
    • The insurgents went around and murdered anyone who helped the coalition forces
  • When you travel around the globe and see what the rest of the world is like, you become more patriotic since you start to appreciate how great America really is
    • America is far from perfect, but we do have a TON of freedom (speech, religion, etc.)

Jocko’s Deployments & His Time in Ramadi

  • Jocko’s first deployment went rather smoothly – he was sent to Baghdad. However, his second one was the exact opposite.
    • He was sent to Ramadi, one of the worst places in Iraq – this excited him since he wanted to go to a place where he could make a big difference
      • During his first deployment, no one was killed. During his second, someone was killed within 24 hours.
      • In Baghdad the SEALs went looking for bad guys, but “In Ramadi, the bad guys were going to find you”
        • And the enemies weren’t amateurs – “It was a real trained and well-coordinated enemy”
  • The strategy for Ramadi was: Seize, Clear, Hold, and Build
    • Seize buildings, clear them of bad guys, hold the property, and build them into American or Iraqi forts
  • The strategy changed as U.S. troops took more Iraqui troops under their wing
    • However, Iraqi soldiers were barely soldiers
      • “They’re just unmotivated and poorly trained. In fact, in many cases, their loyalty is questionable.”
      • A lot of the Iraqi soldiers didn’t know left from right, nor could they count – “Totally uneducated”
    • So why the change?
      • Iraqi soldiers needed the experience, they needed to be trained, and they needed to be able to hold the security in their own country and not depend on Americans forever
  • The new strategy worked and by January 2007 the battle for Ramadi was mostly over
    • The number of attacks dropped from 30-50 per day to just 1 a day or week
      • “It was a miraculous turnaround”
    • Unfortunately today, Ramadi is once again overrun with insurgents – this time, ISIS holds the town

Thoughts On War

  • Oftentimes, the people who have been to war are the last ones to go to war again since they’ve seen firsthand the horrors that occur during combat
  • Nations need to think twice before going to war
    • Enemies will be killed, but so will friendly forces, American troops, and innocent civilians
  • There are two types of will you need to have if you’re going to war:
    • “One is the will to kill people…and you also have to have the will to die”
  • If you’re going to war, you need to have confidence in your plan and a clear strategy for victory
    • If you want to win, you must fully commit
      • America went from having 100k+ troops in Iraq at the height of the war to about 2,000 troops today. With a diminishing U.S. presence, it’s no surprise that ISIS reclaimed much of Iraq after Americans began pulling out.

Jocko’s Post-Military Career

  • Jocko got out of the military in 2010
  • He now runs Echelon Front, a leadership and management consulting company
    • The principles of leadership don’t change whether your mission is to capture and kill bad guys or to manufacture and sell something
      • In both cases, you have to take a diverse group of people and unify them to accomplish a mission in the most effective and efficient manner
  • Jocko’s company does both keynote speeches and training seminars
  • The most challenging thing in life is being in a leadership position and getting your team to work together to accomplish an important mission
  • Business isn’t about lives, but it is about livelihood
    • Owning a business is a lot of pressure – your employees depend on you for their paycheck and for earning the money needed to pay rent and feed their families
    • By helping businesses, Jocko is helping America develop its economy – economic growth buys influence and power around the world

Take Extreme Ownership

  • Jocko found that the best leaders are ones who take extreme ownership and complete responsibility of problems
    • Don’t let your ego make you feel as if you’re too good to make mistakes, no one is perfect
      • When a leader takes responsibility for a problem, this encourages their subordinates to do the same
      • When a leader points fingers at a problem, the subordinates point them right back
  • Even Jocko sometimes has trouble putting his ego in check and taking responsibility for an issue instead of blaming others

Additional Notes

  • “America is unbelievably luxurious compared to the rest of the world”
  • You don’t need to work out to exhaustion to get stronger
  • You can destroy ideas with military force: Nazism, imperial Japan, and slavery no longer exist because people went to war against those that held these ideas
  • Why learn martial arts? – Two reasons:
    • It’s good to do something challenging
    • You want to be able to defend yourself if needed
  • America has turned into a nice, insulated bubble where most people don’t realize the necessity for war to stop all of the evil acts happening in many countries around the world
  • A positive aspect of joining the military: They don’t care about your past
    • You enter with a clean slate and they give you direct rules on what to do in order to become successful
    • The military also does a great job of teaching people discipline
      • Discipline equals freedom: the more discipline you have in life, the more freedom you’ll have
        • If you have the discipline to save money and invest it wisely, you’ll have more financial freedom later on
        • If you have the discipline to wake up early and not waste time on mindless activities, you’ll have more freedom to pursue your hobbies and passions
  • The minute you start saying, “I learned everything there is to learn about this,” is the day you start to lose – this applies to leadership, business, martial arts, etc.
    • Always stay humble and be hungry to learn more
      • There’s ALWAYS room for improvement and new things to learn
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