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This incredible conversation with the former Navy SEAL and now global leadership adviser Jocko Willink taught me the true meaning of leadership.
After hearing about Jocko’s sobering and terrifying encounters in the battlefields of Ramadi in Iraq, I clearly see why he now advises the world’s top corporations on success and leadership.
We can all recite the cliches of management and corporate leadership, but the reality of putting them into practice puts you into contact with one uncomfortable truth: employees are human beings, not robots.
By nature we want to be the masters of our own destiny, we have our own dreams, we spend our whole lives searching for meaning.
Not only that! As Jocko tells me, WE ARE ALL CRAZY.
So the challenge of any great leader is the ability to inspire those in his or her team to take ownership of their role, to invest their own hearts and minds in your vision.
Hearing it broken down like that makes all the management textbooks and leadership cliches seem strangely inadequate.
Jocko’s expertise comes from his understanding of human psychology, and the complexity of everyday relationships.
Human nature under war conditions reveals itself in technicolour.
Jocko understands that different people work in different ways, and are motivated by their own complex psychology.
So leadership is not about getting people to do what you want them to do. It is about making them WANT to do it.
More than that, it is about getting them to believe that what you want them to do is also a burning desire of their own.
When you treat your employers like human beings, with power and integrity, they will go into battle for you. When you treat them like robots, you will be at war with them.
This is an epic interview, covering so much, from tales of Iraqi war missions to boardroom conflicts.
Jocko is a powerful, experienced soldier, but he is also a kind of therapist and his passion for solving the problems of human relationships is deep.
11:00 Dichotomy of leadership.
12:45 Ability to detach and view a situation.
13:53 Political correctness – is it over?
15:45 BUD/S in San Diego and why become a Navy SEAL?
18:28 What makes a good SEAL?
19:16 First deployment
22:00 Fear of being shot or killed.
23:53 Going into battle – what is it like when it comes?
24:44 In between Iraq deployments..
32:13 Reasons for second deployment in Ramadi.
34:03 Second deployment and a change of strategy.
53:23 Leadership task of taking his men to work with Iraqi soldiers.
59:42 Concept of extreme ownership.
1:02:47 Return home, how do you adjust after such an intense period?
1:03:55 Why did Jocko Willink leave the Navy SEALs in 2010?
1:05:42 Compartmentalising his family and the close bond within a SEAL Platoon and other fighting forces.
1:10:04 Remembering: Mark Lee, Mike Monsoor, Ryan Job.
1:13:42 Perspective when looking at Iraq now, since they pulled out.
1:16:30 ISIS, the fight against and America’s reluctance to participate.
1:23:06 Jocko’s sense of connection to the Iraqi people and his sense of justice and humanity.
1:24:59 New role as Corporation and leadership advisor.
1:29:30 Reward of recognising personality traits and gratification in helping people recognise it and move forward.
1:32:05 Good advice on communication – electronic to in person and visa versa.
1:33:44 How does he compare the higher performance of CEOs and that of Navy SEAL leaders.
1:35:38 Leadership is the same in companies as in the SEALs.
1:41:00 The fire and move analogy. How does that relate to business?
1:44:49 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt.
1:48:37 What do you see in Conor McGregor’s mental and creative game?
1:49:48 Success Secrets.
1:50:43 Are people in America and First World countries living in a bubble?
1:52:57 Be cognisant of the real threat to freedom, democracy and humanity.
1:57:09 Great Britain’s warrior culture.
2:00:42 Working with the SAS.
2:01:34 Phone call to the 20 year old Jocko Willink.
2:03:38 Advice to the young man who wants to be a Navy SEAL like him.
Book by Jocko Willink:
Naval Amphibious Base Coronado
Live-fire Action Drills
Battle of Ramadi (2006)
Bronze and Silver Star Medal
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Ranking system
Tal Afar, Iraq
RAF Bomber Command Memorial
Cabinet War Rooms
People mentioned in this episode:
Lieutenant H R McMaster
Colonel Sean MacFarland
Ryan Job and here
Sir Winston Churchill