HomeQuotes160 Jocko Willink Quotes on Leadership and Discipline

160 Jocko Willink Quotes on Leadership and Discipline

2. “The more you practice, the better you get, the more freedom you have to create.”

3. “Be dangerous but disciplined.”

4. “It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.”

5. “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on discipline.”

6. “Discipline equals freedom.”

7. “There can be no leadership when there is no team.”

8. “Set your alarm clock and get out of bed when it goes off.”

9. “You have to do the work. You have to hold the line. You have to make it happen.”

10. “There is no growth in the comfort zone.”

11. “Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind.”

12. “Overconfidence was risky in such a hostile environment, a mistake most often made by warriors who had never truly been tested.”

13. “All animals, including humans, need to see the connection between action and consequence in order to learn or react appropriately.”

14. “Extreme Ownership is a , an attitude.”

15. “It is essential to develop a standardized planning process.”

16. “The only person you can control is you. So focus on making yourself who you want to be: Faster. Smarter. Stronger. More humble. Less ego.”

17. “When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that comes from it.”

18. “Weakness is strong. I must be stronger.”

19. “Discipline is the pathway to freedom.”

20. “We all have a tendency to avoid our weaknesses. When we do that, we never progress or get any better.”

21. “Get creative. Get aggressive. Get it done. When you are on the road, stay on the path.”

22. “Even if you can’t perform at a high level, showing up and doing something is still a thousand times better than not showing up at all.”

23. “Fear is normal. Every person feels fear at some point. Step aggressively towards your fear—that is the step into bravery.”

24. “Combat is reflective of life, only amplified and intensified.”

25. “But if you get out there and do your best, you will either win, or you will learn.”

26. “There were three things that I felt let me transition from being you know mentally insecure about who I was as a person to being okay I’m actually good with who I am.”

27. “When you are counting on motivation to get your goals accomplished, you will likely fall short.”

28. “Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it. Start doing it.”

29. “Instead of letting the situation dictate our decisions, we must dictate the situation.”

30. “To this day as I can look around and actually overlay the understanding on the way I’ve carried out my life is very helpful to me.”

31. “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”

32. “The goal of all leaders should be to work themselves out of a job. This means leaders must be heavily engaged in training and mentoring their junior leaders to prepare them to step up and assume greater responsibilities.”

33. “Put your leaders in stressful scenarios. Make them figure out solutions under pressure. See if you can make them frustrated, angry, and flustered, and then demand decisive leadership from them. They will be challenged at first, but they will get better over time.”

34. “Leading people is the most challenging and, therefore, the most gratifying undertaking of all human endeavors.”

35. “Leadership is simple, but not easy.”

36. “To implement real change, to drive people to accomplish something truly complex or difficult or dangerous—you can’t make people do these things. You have to lead them.”

37. “A leader must care about the troops, but at the same time the leader must complete the mission, and in doing so there will be risk and sometimes unavoidable consequences to the troops.”

38. “Leadership isn’t one person leading a team. It is a group of leaders working together, up and down the chain of command, to lead.”

39. “Staying ahead of the curve prevents a leader from being overwhelmed when pressure is applied and enables greater decisiveness.”

40. “A leader must be brave, but not foolhardy. They must have a competitive spirit, but be a gracious loser.”

41. “When mentored and coached properly, the junior leader can eventually replace the senior leader, allowing the senior leader to move on to the next level of leadership.”

42. “Leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities, between one extreme and another.”

43. “A good leader does not get bogged down in the minutia of a tactical problem at the expense of strategic success.”

44. “We learned that leadership requires belief in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory, particularly when doubters question whether victory is even possible.”

45. “A leader must be calm, but not robotic. They must be confident, but never cocky.”

46. “Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win. Ineffective leaders do not.”

47. “When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable—if there are no consequences—that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.”

48. “But I learned that good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done and win.”

49. “The leader must pull the different elements within the team together to support one another, with all focused exclusively on how to best accomplish the mission.”

50. “One of the key qualities a leader must possess is the ability to detach from the chaos, mayhem, and emotions in a situation and make good, clear decisions based on what is actually happening.”

51. “A leader must lead, but also be ready to follow. They must be aggressive, but not overbearing.”

52. “The best leaders understand the motivations of their team members and know their people—their lives and their families. But a leader must never grow so close to subordinates that one member of the team becomes more important than another, or more important than the mission itself.”

53. “A good leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.”

54. “The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.”

55. “What makes you a disciplined person is choosing to be disciplined.”

56. “A leader must be humble but not passive; quiet but not silent.”

57. “The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”

58. “A leader must be attentive to details but not obsessed by them.”

59. “Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.”

60. “As leaders, we must not get dragged into the details but instead remain focused on the bigger picture.”

61. “Freedom is what everyone wants—to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline.”

62. “Our freedom to operate and maneuver had increased substantially through disciplined procedures.”

63. “Prioritize your problems and take care of them one at a time, the highest priority first. Don’t try to do everything at once or you won’t be successful.”

64. “You gotta be able to tamper and temper all those things in such a way that they can be controlled and disciplined.”

65. “Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom. When you have the discipline to get up early, you are rewarded with more free time.”

66. “When individual members of the team are highly disciplined, they can be trusted and, therefore, allowed to operate with very little oversight.”

67. “One of the best mental disciplines for people to implement is simply putting together a schedule or a task list and actually executing it.”

68. “While discipline and freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected.”

69. “I would venture to guess that the biggest reason creative types don’t produce isn’t because they don’t have vision—or talent—in most cases, it’s a lack of discipline.”

70. “The temptation to take the easy road is always there. It is as easy as staying in bed in the morning and sleeping in. But discipline is paramount to ultimate success and victory for any leader and any team.”

71. “If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.”

72. “Getting out of bed is like the foundation of the discipline, and I think it carries over into everything else.”

73. “That nice, soft pillow and the warm blanket, and it’s all comfortable, and no one wants to leave that comfort—but if you can wake up early in the morning, get a head start on everyone else that’s still sleeping, get productive time doing things that you need to do—that’s a huge piece to moving your life forward.”

74. “Don’t think in the morning. That’s a big mistake that people make. They wake up in the morning and they start thinking. Don’t think. Just execute the plan.”

75. “When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.”

76. “What makes you a SEAL, what makes you a SEAL is being a good tactician on the battlefield, understanding how to shoot, move, and communicate, knowing small unit maneuver warfare.”

77. “SEALs are human beings. We may all have the same haircuts, but we aren’t robots. Some SEALs are great people. Some are not great people. Some have done unspeakably terrible things. You’re dealing with different people, different dreams, and different desires.”

78. “If frontline troops are unclear about the plan and yet are too intimidated to ask questions, the team’s ability to effectively execute the plan radically decreases.”

79. “Waking up early was the first example I noticed in the SEAL Teams in which discipline was really the difference between being good and being exceptional.”

80. “They didn’t have to jump for joy at the thought of fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers on a dangerous battlefield. But they did have to understand why they were doing it so that they could believe in the mission.”

81. “In war, you are forced to see humanity at its absolute worst.”

82. “War teaches you about honor, brotherhood, humility, and leadership.”

83. “The fog of war rolled in with its confusion, and chaos and mayhem.”

84. “War is hell. But war is also an incredible teacher, a brutal teacher. And it teaches you lessons you will never forget.”

85. “War teaches you—it teaches you about the preciousness and fragility of human life.”

86. “Departments and groups within the team must break down silos, depend on each other, and understand who depends on them.”

87. “Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”

88. “Once the wheels were in motion and the full resources of the team were engaged in that highest priority effort, I could then determine the next priority, focus the team’s efforts there, and then move on to the next priority.”

89. “If you continue to keep low performers on your team, that is actually dragging the team down; you’re failing the whole team, and eventually, the whole team is going to fail.”

90. “So, how can a leader become great if they lack the natural characteristics necessary to lead? The answer is simple: a good leader builds a great team that counterbalances their weaknesses.”

91. “Go down swinging. And I’ll tell you: If you fight with all you have, more often than not, you won’t go down at all. You will win.”

92. “When you think you can’t take any more, guess what? You can—it’s proven by the stories of ordinary people in war.”

93. “Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.”

94. “Fight weak emotions with logic; fight the weakness of logic with the power of emotions.”

95. “When your feelings are screaming that you have had enough when you think you are going to break emotionally, override that emotion with concrete logic and willpower that says one thing: I don’t stop.”

96. “It doesn’t matter where your background, it is what you decide to do.”

97. “Get up. Dust off. Reload. Re-calibrate. Re-engage—and go out on the attack.”

98. “Use the stress to make you a better you.”

99. “There are people in the world who have skills and strength and talent that I will never have. Never. These notions that you can ‘be whatever you want to be as long as you want it bad enough’ are not true. They are fairy tales.”

100. “Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better.”

101. “While you continually focus on what everyone else is doing—I’ll focus on what I can do right.”

102. “Things won’t get better dwelling on the past. Accept what has happened. Then move forward.”

103. “Humans can withstand almost inconceivable stress—and you can too.”

104. “Once people stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and take ownership of everything in their lives, they are compelled to take action to solve their problems.”

105. “No more accepting the shortfalls of my own will. No more taking the easy road. No more bowing down to whatever unhealthy or unproductive thoughts float through my mind.”

106. “It’s a lose-lose situation to get in a confrontation on the street. If you can break contact and get away, break contact and get away. That’s what you should learn self-defense for.”

107. “If you get your ego in your way, you will only look to other people and circumstances to blame.”

108. “Stop checking social media and stop watching one more Youtube video.”

109. “People do not follow robots.”

110. “Just do some kind of workout. Doesn’t matter if it’s going for a walk around the block, going for a jog, doing some calisthenics, lifting weights, going to a pool, and swimming—you name it. But do something that gets your blood flowing and gets your mind in the game.”

111. “But my glory, it doesn’t happen in front of a crowd. It doesn’t happen in a stadium or on a stage. There are no medals handed out. It happens in the darkness of the early morning. In solitude. Where I try. And I try. And I try again. With everything I have, to be the best that I can possibly be.”

112. “You’re not going to find happiness. You have to make it. So, get out there and make some happiness.”

113. “The darkness cannot extinguish your light, your will, your determination. No matter what is happening—no matter how hard the fight is. As long as you keep fighting—you win.”

114. “For this reason, they must believe in the cause for which they are fighting. They must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most importantly, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.”

115. “Plans and orders must be communicated in a manner that is simple, clear, and concise.”

116. “Don’t fight stress. Embrace it. Turn it on itself. Use it to make yourself sharper and more alert. Use it to make you think and learn and get better and smarter and more effective.”

117. “Don’t just think. Don’t just talk. Don’t just dream. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is that you actually do.”

118. “People who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home.”

119. “The focus must always be on how to best accomplish the mission.”

120. “Even when you have a chain of command that you don’t like as well, it’s your responsibility to work with the up chain of command.”

121. “Human beings are generally not capable of managing more than 6 to 10 people, particularly when things go sideways and inevitable contingencies arise.”

122. “There was only one person to blame for the confusion, only one person to blame for the wounded men, and only one person to blame for the dead Iraqi soldier. And I knew exactly who that person was.”

123. “I know that somewhere out there, another man is also preparing. That man is the enemy.”

124. “I could then believe in the mission. If I didn’t believe in it, there was no way I could possibly convince the SEALs in my task unit to believe in it.”

125. “The most fundamental and important truths at the heart of Extreme Ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”

126. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in combat.”

127. “To be a good SEAL you sort of have this criminal mindset that you’ve somehow harnessed.”

128. “If you’re not active throughout the day you won’t be tired.”

129. “A person shouldn’t think they are the best thing in the world, but they shouldn’t think they are the worst either. Is that right?”

130. “Who wants to leave the door open to being dominated physically by another human being? Jiu-Jitsu gives you the ability to not be dominated by that person, and to me, that’s real peace of mind.”

131. “That answer came and it hit me like a slap in the face.”

132. “You need to sleep. I’m not anti-sleep.”

133. ”Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle. We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be.”

134. “If I went back to my 20-year-old self, what I would tell my 20-year-old self is, ‘You don’t know anything.’ Because everyone, when they’re young, they think they know what’s going on in the world, and you don’t.”

135. “In chaotic, dynamic, and rapidly changing environments, leaders at all levels must be empowered to make decisions. Decentralized Command is a key component to victory.”

136. “Some of the boldest, most successful plans in history have not come from the senior ranks but from frontline leaders. Senior leaders simply had the courage to accept and run with them.”

137. “I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong. That is what a leader does—even if it means getting fired. If anyone was to be blamed and fired for what happened, let it be me.”

138. “Take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you.”

139. “That is what aggression is to me: the unstoppable fighting spirit. The drive. The burning desire to achieve mission success using every possible tool, asset, and strategy and tactic to bring about victory.”

140. “That’s it. When things are going bad: don’t get all bummed out, don’t get startled, don’t get frustrated. No. Just look at the issue and say, ‘good.”

141. “Is this what I want to be? This? Is this all I’ve got—is this everything I can give? Is this going to be my life? Do I accept that?”

142. “Principle ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism. It can even stifle someone’s sense of self-preservation. Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own.”

143. “Get up and go. Take the risk, take the gamble, take the first step. Take action. And don’t let another day slip by.”

144. “Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously.”

145. “If the plan is simple enough, everyone understands it, which means each person can rapidly adjust and modify what he or she is doing. If the plan is too complex, the team can’t make rapid adjustments to it, because there is no baseline understanding of it.”

146. “Question yourself every day. Ask yourself: Who am I? What have I learned? What have I created? What forward progress have I made? Who have I helped? What am I doing to improve myself—today? To get better, faster, stronger, healthier, smarter?”

147. “Accountability is an important tool that leaders must utilize. However, it should not be the primary tool.”

148. “Waiting for the 100% right and certain solution leads to delay, indecision, and an inability to execute.”

149. “Another mission. Another task. Another goal. And the enemy is always watching. Waiting. Looking for that moment of weakness. Looking for you to exhale, set your weapon down, and close your eyes, even just for a moment. And that’s when they attack. So don’t be finished.”

150. “When leading up the chain of command, use caution and respect. But remember, if your leader is not giving the support you need, don’t blame him or her.”

151. “I know that it can be very very frustrating to try and become disciplined.”

152. “It’s basically for show—that’s what hair is. It has no purpose other than, ‘I look good.’ So let’s just godhead and remove that. I don’t care what I look like. I’m here to win.”

153. “Generally, when a leader struggles, the root cause behind the problem is that the leader has leaned too far in one direction and steered off course. Awareness.”

154. “His realistic assessment, acknowledgment of failure, and ownership of the problem were key to developing a plan to improve performance and ultimately win.”

155. “This firefight wasn’t between us and the enemy, this firefight tragically was between us and us.”

156. “Jiu-Jitsu is probably the number one activity that I could recommend to someone to improve their lives overall.”

157. “I’m always reading the next book. Taking notes. Highlighting, researching, studying. It doesn’t stop.”

158. “But we can’t ever think we are too good to fail or that our enemies are not capable, deadly, and eager to exploit our weaknesses. We must never get complacent. This is where controlling the ego is most important.”

159. “It is critical for leaders to act decisively amid uncertainty; to make the best decisions they can base on only the immediate information available.”

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