Book review: “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin



jose bernardo

(Reviewed by Jose Bernardo on June 12, 2016)

Book: Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Authors: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Released: First Edition 2015

On Amazon: click here

We read the Kindle version


This book is a true game changer, if you’re willing to re-read it plenty of times and put the valuable knowledge in it to use.

I heard about this book by total accident. I was listening to podcasts randomly on youtube (a favorite hobby of mine, while I work on other things) and somehow ended up listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast with Jocko. After listening to that podcast and hearing that he had been on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, I then looked that podcast episode up and the door was opened wide to this subject. I was hooked.

I bought the book, began reading it and started listening to the Jocko Podcast as well. Training jiu-jitsu will probably be a next step, but I am thinking about doing at this point since I have a really bad back.

What excites me most about Jocko’s and Leif’s approach is that this book really gets to the heart of concepts that I had been thinking about for years by myself. I wasn’t sure if there was a book that existed that detailed this type of thinking. Sure enough, these guys not only think about this, they are true masters at implementing it.


“Extreme Ownership” is hard to find in a lot of people I know. (Perhaps I need to change the people I hang out with. LOL, but I do love my friends dearly.) To truly find people who embody this mentality is tough because most people are too wrapped up in their own ego and the details of their own lives to detach and analyze their position and make changes. Knowing when to cut losses and move on is tough when the feeling of having invested time and resources clouds the thinking process.

Which parts of this book got me thinking more about what I need to work on in my own life? Chapter 6 called “Simple”.  As someone who truly enjoys playing with tough concepts in the music I write and study, there are times when I am composing and realise that the music I am writing is so overly convoluted that it stops expressing anything and it is more of an exercise in stupidity at that point. However, I find that this problem does not only apply to my work in music. It creeps into other aspects of my life. I have re-read this chapter many times and I am trying to find ways to declutter and simplify my life. I am almost willing to “reboot” my life and try to do the “minimalist” thing for a while.


Another one of the key concepts that Jocko repeats is that “discipline equals freedom”. I’ve heard that throughout my life and have been very poor at implementing it. As an “artist” type, this is a very tough concept to embrace for me. As someone who identifies as a “night owl”, I have been trying to go to bed earlier and rise early for the past month and have noticed a difference. There IS some truth to getting up early and being more productive. I believe the world would be a more fun place if artists ran it, but I’m not too sure the species would survive if left only to bohemians to move things forward. A world where bohemians are disciplined would be utopia.


I give this book a perfect 100%. I will be re-reading this book often and I will try to put the lessons from it to use in my life. Anyone in leadership MUST read this book. I think all parents should read this book too. The insights are valuable. I love how easily accessible every concept Willink and Babin have written about. I aspire to master the lessons from this book to the same level as these gents.


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