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Extreme Ownership

How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
Narrated by: Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,367 ratings)

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Summary

In this updated edition of the blockbuster best-selling leadership book that took America and the world by storm, two US Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.

Combat, the most intense and dynamic environment imaginable, teaches the toughest leadership lessons, with absolutely everything at stake. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin learned this reality first-hand on the most violent and dangerous battlefield in Iraq. As leaders of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, their mission was one many thought impossible: help US forces secure Ramadi, a violent, insurgent-held city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping, firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories, they learned that leadership - at every level - is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails. 

Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training to pass on their harsh lessons learned in combat to help forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After leaving the SEAL Teams, they launched a company, Echelon Front, to teach those same leadership principles to leaders in businesses, companies, and organizations across the civilian sector. Since that time, they have trained countless leaders and worked with hundreds of companies in virtually every industry across the US and internationally, teaching them how to develop their own high-performance teams and most effectively lead those teams to dominate their battlefields. 

Since its release in October 2015, Extreme Ownership has revolutionized leadership development and set a new standard for literature on the subject. Required reading for many of the most successful organizations, it has become an integral part of the official leadership training programs for scores of business teams, military units, and first responders. Detailing the mindset and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult combat missions, Extreme Ownership demonstrates how to apply them to any team or organization, in any leadership environment. A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.

©2015 Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (P)2015 Macmillan Audio

What members say

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Life-enriching book

I’ve read a lot of business books and rate this as one of the best.
It makes uncomfortable listening/reading as it (quite rightly) shifts the emphasis on to you for outcomes. Read reviews beforehand that complained about the “war stories”: since this is the analogical tool deployed by the authors - to great effect - I don’t really understand the complaint.
I’m now a dedicated follower of Willink’s blog and Twitter account. Also read his discipline manual. The authors have been there, seen it, done it - and still are. Sound, practical advice by seasoned, respected readers who underscore that winning and success is a matter of choice, hard work and self/discipline. My only regret is I didn’t read this sooner. Interested in self and business improvement: BUY THIS BOOK!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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For Seals junkies only

I bought this on the chance that there were some good leadership pointers inside, but found it to read more like a Seals manual describing their operations etc. Didn't get past the first few chapters and found it disappointing.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Lots of violence but good business lessons also.

I would normally avoid violence.

For example it is 40 years since I enjoyed 2nd world war books.

The Iraq war stories are fascinating especially listening from the perspective of the people who led the missions on the ground.

There were was a huge price to pay for any mistakes.

It makes our leadership challenges seem much less important.

Strangely for that reason the lessons transferred very well.

Our leadership might not be life and death but it is very important in our lives.

It is worth learning from these guys.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely Essential Listening. Badass.

- Thought provoking, insightful, informative, clear, engaging and very well crafted.

- Answers many of the simple, yet often, hugely challenging problems leaders face and provides applicable guidance to generate change and improvement.

- I listened to this whilst training (circuit and long runs) and it helped there too! Not just the experience from the Seal Teams but the principles and the applications to business sections that rounded off each chapter perfectly.

- Offered thoughts and clear guidance on questions as i thought of them, some of them tough and exposed areas for personal development required. Perfect.

- I will now buy the book and make some personal notes as I listen again.

- I will buy the audio/book for others.

Andy Grist
42y
middle grade manager

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Extreme Repetition + Disappointment

These guys could have huge authority based on their experience, but instead they just constantly brag - as if afraid every 60 seconds that you already forgot they are Seals - while overusing word "humble" + both authors are narrators, and when one finishes a monologue, the other one basically repeats the content in the same words, just different order. The first hour is a Seal-worthy trial: surviving the laundry list of industries they helped with their coaching and war-based credentials repetition ad nauseam. I expected an honest, focused manual of tips. Was not delivered. Couldn't finish.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Inspired

I found this book inspirational.

Although interesting, at times, I was a little fustrated by the war stories getting in the way of showing their leadership framework.

I am hoping that they will develop on this work and we'll see more from them.

Powerful message excellently delivered. Left me wanting to know more.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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More common sense than extreme ownership.

i liked some of the stories behind how they learned these key skills but overall all they really say is take ownership for all that you do.

In terms of reading, they both read in the exact same sort of tempo with which i guess must be a military way of speaking. also Leif's voice is really difficult to listen to for long periods.

Listening to any book after David Goggins was going to be a challenge because how can you compete with that? But this definitely wasn't the one i should have picked next.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Some fairly basic business advice

Well spoken by the narrator, and the advice is well presented and meaningful. That said the narrator does spend a LOT of time praising his own military unit. So much so that it can become tiresome to listen to. The principles which are *eventually* described are useful for management and leadership, but they are also mainly fairly obvious.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Limited use for business

There is only so much you can learn from a firefight and use in business. Takes one idea and kills it through repetition.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Janos
  • London, UK
  • 18-04-16

I expected to get real methodology

I expected to get real insights to the SEALs decision making process and leadership guidelines. The book is not bad, but too broad with lack of help on continuous improvement.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-02-17

I don't read SEAL Books...

As a veteran, I hold a strong resentment for the unabashed self promotion of the SEAL community. This however is one of my favorite books, period. I am glad I set my ego aside and gave it a chance. This book contains all the best points of a capable combat leader, and many points are hidden within main points as well. I recommend this book to all people, regardless of their profession.

389 of 424 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael S Lynn
  • 28-08-18

Sound issues?

The start of almost every sentence from Jocko sounded like the first half of the word was never recorded. I listened to this over Bluetooth headphones and double checked with the IPhone 6s speakers only.

I can’t think of a better way to describe the issue. A scratchy start of sound that is missing the first half of the first word in the start of every sentence that followed any significant pause. The parts read by Leif did not hanged this problem and were delivered like you might expect.

Still worth getting us

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Oliver Nielsen
  • 02-02-16

Wow. This one surprised me!

Narrated by the team guys themselves, the authenticity is high from the get-go.

The structure of the book is solid, alternating between battle scenes, and the practical take-away, applicable to the modern business owner/leader.

The central premise is "taking extreme ownership" – as only taking FULL 100% responsibility for your actions and business decisions: can you be an effective leader, correct what's not working, and more.

It's a good book that I consumed quickly – to me it was the audio equivalent of a page-turner. I couldn't listen to it fast enough, and will relisten to it soon:)

138 of 155 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • 11-12-15

Get ready to get better.

After reading Jacko's book I've gotten up at 5 o'clock every day to work out which, I haven't done so I was 19. This book will change you for the better.

103 of 117 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeno B
  • 23-11-15

A Must Read!

If you're committed to being a better leader, then this book is a must-read. The authors explain in detail how the hard lessons learned on the battlefield can translate and be applicable in the business world. As someone who is both an Iraq Veteran and small business owner, this book had a mediate applications. I am confident that if you give this book and honest listen and sincerely apply the lessons learned, he will reap benefits from this amazing book. To the authors, thank you for your selfless service to our beloved Republic.

v/r,
Jeno Berta

69 of 79 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 13-11-15

Sometimes good

The book opens with the usual disclaimer that all of the stories and conversations have been modified, personalities combined, timelines changed, and some details or other parts added to make everything fit, etc., to protect privacy and confidentiality and whatnot. What follows are hours of badly scripted dialog to sell the authors' consulting services. There are few good stories in this book and several really illustrative leadership applications that will make you think. I did take a few things away from this book, but it is mostly bland made up conversational filler. I broke away twice to listen to 2 other books before finishing this.

158 of 192 people found this review helpful

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  • Jesse Boyd
  • 26-08-18

The audio kept cutting in and out

By the middle of the first chapter, I just couldn’t listen to this anymore. I assume it was the actual audio, since I haven’t had this problem in audio books before. It happened on all my devices. Too bad, looks like a good book.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • chuckbakerisright
  • 05-09-16

Leadership from Soldiers on Business

Overall there is nothing really new to learn. I've read other books that offer similar principles to leadership. If you like war stories, then you'll enjoy the stories they tell about the battle field. If you are looking for new insights into business leadership you'll not find it here. Honestly it is the same ideas that have been used time and again. But it might also remind you of things you've forgotten about leadership. And it might inspire you to try some of those leadership principles again. These guys are definitely American hero's, but they not are going to change anything in the business world.

99 of 121 people found this review helpful

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  • CoolRich59
  • 12-02-16

Starts Strong...then fades

I really liked this when I started. So much so that I bought another copy for my son. But then it starts to get predictable. Then it gets more predictable, and pedantic, and - frankly - tiresome. I wish it was otherwise, but that's my take.

30 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 30-12-15

Repetitive, Typical, & Generic

I've read a lot of SEAL books out there, and they all tend to have the same wartime mission stories.

"Here's what we did in combat, now let us teach you how to transfer those methods over to the business world." Which is the basic premise of this book. Except there's one thing that's different. These guys were trained for extremely high stress situations that mostly involve life/death scenarios with firearms and explosives. An office/business setting is different, and the authors probably don't have much experience dealing with unruly workers who underperform in providing reports on budgets. The authors devote a majority of each chapter harping on their experiences in Iraq, and maybe a few paragraphs or pages contrasting those situations to the business world. It's about 90% wartime stories, and the rest is actually applied to business. (Sort of) The reader must realize these guys aren't exactly ideal office companions. The wartime stuff is really all they know, which was their job at the time.

The leadership principles are hardly earth-shattering. Example: A business group doesn't do well in a scenario, and it's the VP's job to take the fall if it fails. Not that hard to figure out, and certainly doesn't need a Navy SEAL to explain how his mission in Iraq that took up 10 pages in the book to contrast with it.

Overall: if you like war stories about Navy SEALs and Iraq, this book and basically any other recent SEAL written book out there has the same stuff. If you want actual business resolution suggestions, I'd advise you to look beyond books like these. Way too much emphasis on their missions rather than actual office issues.

137 of 172 people found this review helpful