Jocko Willink was a member of SEAL Task Unit Bruiser, one of the most decorated special operations units in Iraq. He learned important lessons about leadership, discipline and how to overcome fear. He has since transformed those lessons into a bestselling book called “Extreme Ownership”. And also a popular podcast (the Jocko Podcast).
As the founder of the company Echelon Front, Willink now advises teams, corporations, and institutions. On how to lead and win, all based on his prior experience as a Navy SEAL. If you’re a veteran entrepreneur. These are the top lessons from Jocko Willink that you need to know to help grow your business…
#1: Always be on the attack
One of the most popular YouTube videos that he has ever recorded was simply called “GOOD”. It’s a two-minute video that’s perhaps one of the most inspirational videos that you will ever watch. And it has already racked up over 679,000 views on YouTube.
The answer to any difficult situation, says Willink, needs to be the word “GOOD”.
Didn’t get promoted? GOOD. Didn’t get funded? GOOD. Each one of those setbacks is actually an opportunity. Willink implores people to: “Get up. Dust off. Reload. Recalibrate. And re-engage”.
If you can say the word “GOOD” after a setback or failure. It means that you are still alive. And that means you still have some fight inside of you.
So the next time a venture capitalist passes on the chance to invest in your company. Or the next time your startup is not accepted into a prestigious accelerator program. You know how to respond: “GOOD”. It means you have an opportunity to become stronger and better.
#2: Be disciplined
As Willink explains. Being disciplined means more than just waking up early each day. Or even exercising daily, or eating the right foods daily. It means training yourself to have will and fortitude in everything that you do. You need to train your brain and body to avoid giving into the desire for short-term satisfaction.
#3: The time to take action is now
The only way to stop the procrastination and overcome the laziness, says Willink, is by starting right here. Right now.
Too many people say they want to change. But they put things off “until after dinner”. Or “until I have some free time to think things out”.
But if you want to make it happen. You have to start now. You have to initiate the action aggressively. Otherwise, you will keep putting off any real action until a later day.
#4: Turn your weaknesses into strengths
You’re not “doomed” to remain weak, explains Willink. You have to be willing to work on your weaknesses. To do that, you have to recognize them for what they are. And come up with a plan to build them up so that they become strengths.
Even something like fear can become a strength. If it encourages and inspires you to become stronger and more focused.
#5: Overcome the instinct to quit
There is something inside all of us that is constantly telling us to quit. However, our brains trick us into thinking that this is not really an instinct to quit.
As a result, we use phrases like, “You’ve given it your best shot, that’s all you can ask”. Or, “It’s OK, the deck was stacked against you anyway”.
Willink is not willing to listen to these excuses. He says that this instinct is a “liar”. It’s a way of giving you an out. A free pass. A way to quit with some kind of dignity.
But you can never quit. And so you have to take on this “liar” directly. If you find yourself using phrases like, “Well, you did the best you could”. You have to fight back.
#6: Use stress as a catalyst
We’re all human, says Willink. And that means we all must deal with stress. Even the best-trained Navy SEAL will encounter feelings of stress. The difference, though, is how we deal with this stress.
Willink advises that you use stress to make yourself sharper. Stress, in other words, needs to become a catalyst. You should be able to use stress to focus yourself and become stronger.
#7: Step toward your fear
Just as with stress, fear is a very natural emotion. The core instinct for anyone is to run away from that fear. But Jocko Willink says that you should step towards your fear. The only way to overcome this fear is by moving toward it. So that you can tackle it directly.
In one podcast episode, Willink recounts how one client kept asking him how to overcome his fear. Willink listened to him for a short time. And then answered with just a single word: “Step”.
Step toward your fear, and you will overcome it.
#8: Jocko Willink says “Never Complain”
Another highly popular YouTube video from Jocko Willink is called “Never Complain Again”. It’s a four-minute video that has picked up over 190,000 views.
In it, Willink explains how to overcome the urge to complain. The answer is to take action. It’s too easy to sit around, making excuses and complaining. If you are really serious about success, you will stop complaining and just do it.
Using these eight powerful lessons from former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. You can train yourself to become a better entrepreneur. Meeting each new challenge with a single word: “GOOD”.
You will develop a focused, disciplined approach. Then you will learn how to overcome natural instincts like fear and the urge to quit. And you will train yourself in a way that weaknesses will transform into strengths.
These are invaluable lessons, whether you are an early-stage entrepreneur just starting out. Or a more established entrepreneur looking to take your startup to the next level.
Sooner or later, you will encounter fear and stress. And you will be told that it’s OK to quit. You tried your best. But don’t give in to these feelings and instincts. Fight them by stepping toward them and taking them on directly.