Extreme Ownership—Piecka

Author of Book: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Date Read: May 1, 2022

Book Report

Book: Extreme Ownership

Author: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Genre: Non-Fiction

Why I Read This Book:

Every week in the Saturday version of the Wall Street Journal, they have a section titled “Review”. The second to last page always lists the top selling books for the week in Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Business. Out of 10 consecutive weeks, 9 of those weeks will have “Extreme Ownership” listed in the top 10 best selling business books. That alone got my attention. I was also intrigued because I remember one of the Authors, Jocko Willink, from being a guest on Tim Ferriss’s and Joe Rogan’s podcasts multiple times. Jocko also has his own successful podcast now as well. Hearing him tell his stories of Leadership from back when he was in the Navy SEAL’s really impressed me and seeing the consistency of his book sales led me to NEEDING to read “Extreme Ownership”. 

Jocko and Leif both served our Country in the Navy SEAL’s. Jocko was the Team leader of Task Unit Bruiser and Leif was his second in command. Task Unit Bruiser was assigned the mission to go to the city of Ramadi during the Iraq War and completely turn the around from the most hostile city in the Country to one where the citizens can go about their day without fear of being attacked. Upon their return from Iraq, Jocko and Leif started their own consulting company Echelon Front where they teach Executives and Management the tools they used to lead Navy SEAL’s in battle and in training. 

“Extreme Ownership” is divided into 3 parts and combine lessons learned from their time in Ramadi to actual examples in real life businesses where business leaders used “Extreme Ownership” tactics to solve problems and turn some businesses around completely. In my opinion, anyone who wants to upgrade their Leadership skills to the highest levels needs to read “Extreme Ownership”.  

What I Learned:

One of the first lessons I took from “Extreme Ownership” was to be a great Leader in the Military or in Business, it starts with remaining humble. In all the movies about Navy SEAL’s, you can see the confidence that everyone in the Seal’s has. Sometimes it is all the way to the point of cockiness. Which does make sense because of everything you have to go through just to become a SEAL and then know you will be asked o take on some of the toughest missions within the Military. But, as the authors point out very early, the best Leaders in the military or in civilian life are HUMBLE. Their mission is about 1 thing–> The TEAM succeeding. If everything goes well, it is because the TEAM succeeded in executing the plan. If the mission failed, it is because the Leader failed the TEAM. No Leader worthy of any level of respect is bigger than the TEAM. 

Extreme Ownership is not just the title of the book but it is also one of the first principles the authors talk about. No matter if it is a product launch or a rescue mission, if the team fails, even if it is clear that 1 person dropped the ball or the plan that was handed down from above was flawed and unrealistic, Extreme Ownership means the Leader steps up and takes the blame. If the plan did not succeed because someone totally forgot to do their part, the Leader takes full responsibility. “I should have trained them better. We should have practiced more.”  In return, the rest of the team will respect you more and fight harder for you when it matters. 

The last lesson learned I wanted to bring up is referred to as “Decentralized Command.”  In basic terms, no 1 Leader can do EVERYTHING. Even if the new product launch or the marketing campaign is “your baby”, great Leaders make sure those under him/her have the authority to make decisions on their own. However, that doe snot mean those below you have “total authority”. In Jocko’s words, “that can create chaos.”  It is up to the Leader to fully explain what is within their subordinates limits and CONFIRM they understand. You are not doing any good as a Leader if you are trying to control everything and everyone because you do not have faith in your Team OR you are afraid that a subordinate will end up out-shining you. What is best for the Team, the mission, and the Company LONG TERM?

Why I Will Be Successful After Reading This Book:

If asked, who WOULDN’T want to be a Navy SEAL? They are one of the most admired groups in the Military and the most FEARED around the world!! I know I was not born to be a soldier, let alone a SEAL. But, after reading “Extreme Ownership”, I now have a handful of new tools that I can use in business as well as in every day life that real SEAL’s use in theirs. 

Even right now as I serve time inside a Federal Prison Camp, I see the LACK of leadership skills within the Bureau of Prisons that I read about in “Extreme Ownership”:

–Extreme Ownership: Nope!  Pointing fingers is how leadership here handles problems. 

–Check the Ego: Nope!  Most of the Corrections Officers make sure EVERYONE knows they have the power and we simply are just “inmates”. 

–Simple: Never!  When it comes to punishment and discipline, it happens quick and easy. When it comes to needing something that BENEFITS an inmate, everything takes an Act of Congress. 

Now that I have seen first hand what the opposite of these lessons look like, I can identify problems very quickly when I am released and working again in Leadership positions myself. 

One thing I always wonder about when I read books like this is “How does that translate into the Real World?”  With every chapter ending with “Application to Business” and a Real World story of a real company needing to use that lesson to succeed, it makes me believe that these principals WORK and success is just a matter of EXECUTION and BELIEF. 

I have always considered myself someone with a very strong work ethic and a very disciplined approach to life. Now after reading “Extreme Ownership”, I can take my life, my Leadership, my discipline, and my work ethic to Navy SEAL level of success. SOLD!!!

About Me:

My name is Jeff Piecka and I was sentenced to 34 months in a Federal Prison Camp in Oxford, WI after committing a white collar crime several years before I was arrested and immediately plead guilty. Before self-surrendering on June 6, 2022. I promised my wife and family that I WILL exit Prison a better husband, son, brother, Christian, future employee, and overall better member of society because I am going to better myself in three ways:

Physically– Not just for vanity purposes but a better operating body equals a better operating mind.

Mentally–Reading only non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, and papers that educate and elevate my mind and expand my vocabulary. 

Spiritually–For ME, this means learning more from the Bible but it can also mean whatever “Greater Good” you believe in.

Shortly after self-surrendering and reading Michael Santos’s book “Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45 Year Prison Term”, it inspired me to want to help just 1 person who is possibly heading to Prison so I started emailing my family Posts that my sister uses to post as a Blog on Reddit dot com called “Letters From Federal Prison”. I believe to date it has over 10,000 views and shares plus there have been several comments from people advising that the Blog has been the most help of anything on the internet. This has motivated me to keep writing (which I have NEVER done anything like this before” and I REALLY want to help more people when I return to society at the end of this year.