It’s easy to blame the other person for being a bad partner. It’s easy to blame the job for your stress.
It’s easy to blame others for you not being where you want to be in life. It’s easy to blame your environment for your current woes. It’s easy to blame your diet.
But excuses don’t move your life forward. The only place you're heading is to the losers mentality.
When it comes to destroying excuses, one of the best groups of people to look to for modeling a behavior and mindset is Navy Seals. Navy Seals are some of the highest performers in the world. Their high level of excellence is due to the commitment of extreme ownership.
What’s extreme ownership
Extreme Ownership is principles developed by co-authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin of the book ‘Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win'.
Jocko Willink was the commander of Task Unit Bruiser and the most decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. Leif Babin was one of his platoon commanders.
While these principles are explained through the context of war and teams, they are effective and highly applicable to your business, life, and health.
Extreme Ownership of your health is where you can’t blame products, your boss, your ex, your economy, your gym, your peers, your family, your social media environments, your physical environments, nor anything else for not taking action towards the things that are “important” to you.
You’re accountable for your success in health and fitness, along with everything else in life. While you can’t control the exact outcomes and timetables, you can control the process and actions that give you the best chance for success.
A true leader owns the outcome to the best of their extent. Things go wrong, you forget to do something, go off your plan, miss a workout, or go off your diet— then you take full ownership of it with no excuses.
As they explained in the book, Extreme Ownership is “on any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rest with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failure, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”
You’re the leader of your own life, business, and well being.
Here are 7 key principles to taking extreme ownership with your health.
1. Your attitude sets the tone
“The leader sets the tone for the entire team” — Leif Babin
While you’re not leading a team out to the battlefield, you’re leading yourself to the battlefield of life and maneuvering the various obstacles that life throws your way. Your attitude sets the tone for how you operate throughout the day.
Is it a setback that you fell short with your diet and fitness goals? Or is it merely feedback to help you get better and grow more as a person?
Someone with an extreme ownership attitude doesn’t leave something up to chance to change if they have the capability to change it. It’s not about what you preach, tell others, or share on social media. But instead, it’s about what you tolerate in your life.
What type of standards are you setting for your life? Are you accepting decent enough and moving on? Are you accepting partners that are alright and don’t light you up? But at least you aren’t alone—right?
If you approach life with a “decent enough mentality”, then you’ll get decent results. In other words, you’re going to be average.
In Bud's class and seal qualification training, they dubbed a phrase “tortured genius”. No matter how obvious his or her failing, or how valid the criticism, the tortured genius accepts zero responsibility for mistakes, makes excuses, and blames everyone else for their failings and shortcomings.
Don’t be this person. Accept ownership and responsibility.
2. Check your ego
“Ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism.” “When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.” — Jocko Willink
Ego can serve as your anchor to not achieving your business and health goals.
For example: Steve wants to lose weight and has tried numerous workouts from fitness magazines and the internet. He’s never stayed consistent and his metabolism has slowed down because of the various fad diets, detoxes, and workouts he’s tried.
Instead of taking extreme ownership of his health, he blames his weight gain on his stress, job, and lack of time. He says he knows how to get into shape, but he hasn’t actually ever done it. He’s not taking extreme ownership with his fitness because he refuses to take responsibility and continues to deflect blame. He’ll continue to be stuck and spin his wheels in neutral until he sets his ego aside and seeks out help.
This same type of thing happens to the girl who claims there are no good men and she continues to only find douchebags. She’s not taking extreme ownership that a big portion of her dating faults is because of herself and that she needs to work on herself and figure out why she’s attracting these types of guys.
When it comes to ego, Ryan Holiday reminds us that:
“If you want to be more than a flash in the pan, you must be prepared to focus on the long term. We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.”
This is applicable to your health because if you want to shift the paradigm of your health for the long term, you have to focus on taking action, finding proper education, and doing the little (but essential) things on a daily basis which means letting go of the ego and preconceived notions.
Steve could take extreme ownership by signing up for a session with a trainer at his gym to learn about effective workouts, meet with a nutrition coach to learn about healthy eating, ask friends who have successfully lost weight, or decide to join my 1-on-1 comprehensive lifestyle coaching program.
Place your ego on the bench. Think about the next step required for changing your health and start taking extreme ownership of your health.
3. Cover and move
“In the seal teams, we taught teams to act decisively, my default setting should be aggressive. Proactive rather than reactive. Instead of the situation dictating our decisions, we dictated the situation. Departments and groups within the team must work together, depend on each there and understand who depends on them. Cover and move equal team work.” – Leif Babin
Wait and see doesn't cut it. There is no try, only doing. The picture and journey will never be smooth sailing, there will always be risks and tough choices. Do your best to assess the situation (and cover the big risks) and move forward. Have a bias for action.
In fitness, front load your work and prepare ahead of time for potential difficulties and temptations.
Don’t try to control everything, only fixate on the big dominoes. This allows you to have room to live life with less stress and have more mental space to make the big decisions that truly move life forward.
4. The simpler, the sexier
Complexity equates to more risks and often unnecessary ones. Complexity is your enemy. The more complex, the more unknowns and variables which lead to higher likelihoods of quitting.
When it’s more difficulty, it’s harder to understand and not as easy to execute, which leads to higher percentages of quitting.
With your health and wellness, your nutrition should be as simple as possible, but yet highly effective. Think Pareto’s principle here (80/20). What are the big dominoes in your healthy eating plan that will yield the most in return?
A couple could be eating adequate amounts of protein with each meal, have 2-3 servings of vegetables with each meal, and eat 3-4 times per day. With exercise, it could be having a workout plan that consists mainly of the big compound lifts due to them using multiple muscle groups and causing more of a metabolic load/stress on the body. And thus leading to more calories burned in a shorter amount of time.
Lastly, another big domino to focus on is getting the proper amounts of sleep that are also high-quality sleep.
5. Set strict priorities and ruthlessly execute
“Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail to each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest propriety task and execute. Prioritize and execute.
On the battlefield, there will inevitably come a time when problems arise that have a snowball effect. These present themselves as a complex entity of their own. It’s in this type of high-stakes situation that it’s important to relax, look around and then make a decision.” — Leif Babin
The principles remain the same for your life, business, and well-being.
Do your best to stay a step or two ahead of the potential problem. But, when faced with multiple challenges in your life, identify the highest priorities and tackle those problems one at a time.
Here’s a quick way to take extreme ownership of your health and set up a chain of priorities and execute:
- Evaluate/recognize the problem/issue causing the most issues or one that could be the biggest barrier to your goal
- Lay out a simple, clear, and concise plan in terms of the highest priority
- Develop and determine your solutions (don’t forget to seek help if needed—remember the ego)
- Focus all efforts and resources on that issue
- Move on once it’s resolved
6. Be decisive and steady regardless of the scenario
Not taking a choice nor making a move is a choice in itself and that’s called inaction (the worse of them all).
It’s important to be comfortable amid the chaos and act decisively amid the uncertainty around you. While not in a battlefield, you’ll encounter many variable factors on a daily basis that could cause disruption to your flow.
Don’t be wishy washy and flip flop back and forth with what you decide to do. Choose and move on regardless.
Pick a nutrition and workout plan and then execute ruthlessly. Stay the course and trust the process. Don’t go chasing shiny new objects or program hop each week, that’s how you stay stuck in mediocrity.
7. Discipline equals freedom
“Instead of making us more rigid and unable to improvise, this discipline actually made us more flexible, more adaptable, and more efficient. It allowed us to be creative. When we wanted to change plans midstream on an operation we didn’t have to recreate an entire plan. We had the freedom to work within the framework of our discipline procedures.”
— Jocko Willink
Most people think of discipline as being strict, regimented, and for control freaks. At first glance, this might seem accurate, but in fact, it’s the opposite.
Discipline is the gateway to freedom, success, and the body that you desire. Discipline catapults you from good to great. You won’t become more rigid with discipline, but instead, more flexible.
This happens because you’re creating systems and processes that allow you to execute without having to reinvent the wheel or think of the basic tasks to do each and every day—you’re becoming more efficient.
Your systems created through discipline cover this and now your mind is free to focus on other important matters.
Ask yourself how can I use more discipline to create more freedom in my life. Is it creating systems with your nutrition, working out, groceries, cooking, business, or other facets?