Jocko Willink Explains Respect, Influence and Leadership | Impact Theory | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Jocko Willink Explains Respect, Influence and Leadership | Impact Theory".


Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Intro (00:00)

If I want to gain the ability to influence you, well then what I have to do is give you the ability to influence me. And when I say, "Hey, here's what we're trying to make happen. Here's what I want to do and you say, "Well, I think we should do it like this." You know what I should say? Okay, well, let's take a look at that. The more I allow you to influence me, the more open your mind gets for me to influence you. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to allow you to influence me and the more I allow that to happen, the more influence I'm going to have. Respect, same thing. If I treat you like you're a plebe, like you don't matter, you're not going to respect me at all. But if I treat you with respect, when you try and talk to me and I listen and I respect what you're saying and I try and understand it fully, then your respect for me is going to go up as well. So when you want to earn respect, give respect. When you want to earn influence, give influence. You want to earn trust and give trust. All those three are related. Hey everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. Today's guest is a retired US Navy Seal Officer and New York Times bestselling author. He's also the host of the top-rated Jocko podcast and the co-founder of echelon front and partner in origin, Maine. During his time in Iraq, he was awarded the bronze and silver stars for his actions in battle and under his leadership, Task Unit Bruiser became the most highly decorated special operations unit in the war. So please help me in welcoming the author of Extreme Ownership, The Dichotomy of Leadership and most recently Leadership, Strategy and Tactics. The decorated combat veteran and children's author, Jocko Willink.

Leadership And Emotional Control

Leadership Field Manual (01:52)

So your thoughts on leadership have been really impactful for me. I have a list because people would ask me all the time what books I read because in no uncertain terms of my successes in direct correlation to the number of books that I've read. And so people started asking me like what have you read, how did you change your trajectory in life? And so I made sort of my ultimate playlist of books and Extreme Ownership I think comes in number two behind the only book that I think is maybe more foundational which is Mindset by Carol Dweck. But when I read your book man, I was like fuck, the notion of just own it. Like, take it in, own it, own the solution as well as the problem was really transformative for me and has played out wonderfully in terms of my business relationships. So seeing you continue to go deeper on themes of leadership and now making a field manual has been really exciting for me. What are some of the rules of leadership that you wanted to get across in the new field manual? So what happens is with Extreme Ownership or the dichotomy of leadership, we get these principles across people. And we did it in the most simple, straightforward possible way that we could which is we tell a war story, we tell what the principle is and then we show an example from the business world. And I'm saying we because I wrote these books with a buddy of mine, Lafe Babbin that I was in the SEAL teams with. And so that's what we did and it's pretty straightforward but you know we have a consulting company too. So as we go around and talk to people, we start hearing questions and then I have a podcast and people send me questions all the time. And these questions are really about how do I take these principles because they get the principles. They can explain the principle. They can quote you the principle. But then they get faced with a problem and they don't understand how to actually apply the principle. So on my podcast I was answering these questions all the time of, "Hey, what do I do when, what do I do when my boss wants all the credit? What do I do?" And what do I do when I've got a young individual that has a lot of potential but they're not really taking advantage of it. They're not motivated to make things happen. What do I do then? And question after question after question after question. And I realized, "Okay, I need to actually put these principles in a field manual that people can pragmatically take the lessons, take the principles and apply them to what's happening in the world." And that's what I try to do in the new field manual.

Jocko's Leadership (04:31)

So I'm writing a book now that's sort of conceptually about building yourself. How you use beliefs, values, your sense of identity, all that stuff to change the direction of your life by changing the way that you think. One of the things I'm finding most difficult in putting the book together is like the order. So what do you need to understand first? What do you need to do first? When you were putting together, you have like 80-some chapters. How did you decide the order? Like what is leadership building block number one? Well, actually what I did was I started off with what I considered leadership building blocks one, two, and three from my life, from the SEAL teams. When I got to the SEAL teams, my first three SEAL platoon, this is the 1990s. There's no war going on. And I looked at these situations and said, "Okay, these are things that I took from the specific events or these specific scenarios." And I applied those for the rest of my career and for the rest of my life and I apply them today.

The detached leader" / "it's not about you" (05:30)

And so what I did was I started off by telling these three stories about my first platoon, my second platoon, my third platoon, my first platoon. To summarize the story, we were doing a training operation. We get into this tactical situation. Everyone in my platoon is focused on one area. Everyone's looking down their weapons, waiting for a threat to expose itself, which means you got 16 guys looking down their weapons, and I'm waiting for someone to make a call. I was a new guy. I'm waiting for someone above me in the chain of command to say, "Hey, move here or hey, move forward or make some kind of a decision." And as I'm waiting, no one's doing it. So I'm a new guy. I'm scared to say anything and I know I shouldn't say anything. So I'm just waiting and no one's giving an order. No one's giving any direction. So I wait longer. And this goes on for probably 30 seconds or a minute, which is a really long time when you're trying to take down a target. And finally, I said to myself, "All right, I'm going to see what's going on." So I actually point my weapon at the ceiling and I take a step back and I just look around. And I see that every single person in my platoon, including my platoon commander, including the assistant platoon commander, including the platoon leading petty officer, everyone is just focused on their weapons and no one's making a decision. And I can see this. And because I'm looking around and I'm detached from the scenario, just by eight inches, I stepped back, stepped back and looked around. I can see what decision needs to be made. And so I summoned up as much courage as I could as a new guy because new guys don't make decisions. And I said, "Hold left, clear right," which was a basic command that we had rehearsed and we would practice. And I expected someone to say, "Shut up, shut up, Jocko." But instead, they repeated the command. They all said, "Hold left, clear right," which means we were going to execute it. And sure enough, the guys on the left held and the guys on the right cleared and we got done. And instead of someone saying, "Hey, you need to keep your mouth shut," one of the more senior guys said, "Hey, good job up there. Way to make a call." So I looked at it and I said, "Wait a second. How could I have a new guy have made a decision in that situation that was better than what the more senior, more experienced guys were making?" And I realized it was because I took a step back and detached from it. So at that moment, I said to myself, "Okay, from now on, when I get into these tactical scenarios, I'm going to take a step back and I'm going to try and look around and I'm going to try and detach myself from the chaos and the mayhem." And I started doing it all the time in every tactical situation, in the land, warfare, in the mountains, in the urban environments. I was doing it all the time and I was able to see what was happening. It was like a superpower to be able to see what was happening and make decisions. And so then I actually started doing it when I was having conversations. And if you and I were in disagreement and you started getting emotional, instead of me getting emotional back at you, I would just take a step back and be like, "Oh, okay. He's really concerned about this. Why is he so concerned? What does he see that I don't want to see?" And I started actually just detaching all the time. And that became a very powerful tool in leadership that I used to this day.

The ultimate compliment (08:44)

My second platoon, we have a great platoon chief, we have a great platoon LPO, we have a great assistant platoon commander, but our platoon commander, the guy actually in charge of the whole platoon, he's not very experienced. He had come from a different job in the Navy, so he didn't have a lot of experience. And which is fine. Like, it's okay to be inexperienced as a leader. You can get through that as long as you're humble and you listen and you take advice from other people, you should be able to do fine. No one expects you to know everything as a leader, but he didn't do that. He didn't listen. He didn't take advice. He didn't take guidance. Everything was like his way or the highway. And eventually, we in the platoon got kind of fed up with it and we had a mutiny inside of our platoon. We went to our commanding officer and said, "Hey, sir, we don't want to work for our platoon commander." He doesn't listen. He's arrogant. And eventually what ended up happening was this guy got fired. That was our platoon commander. And that left an impact on me because as I'm watching this going, I'm thinking to myself, "Why don't we like this guy? Why doesn't anyone want to listen to this guy? Why don't we want to follow this guy?" And the reason is because he was arrogant and he didn't listen and he didn't give us any ownership of everything. Everything was about him. And that would have made an impression on me. That would have left a mark. But the mark got left even more clearly because when that guy got fired, the guy that came in and took over for him was like, I hate to use the word legendary, but he was a pretty legendary seal, had a ton of experience.

The power in asking others for help" / "(Ego Demise)" (10:06)

He'd come up through the ranks and he'd been stationed at every different kind of seal team. And he took over as our platoon commander. And I kind of thought to myself, well, he's going to take over because we're a bunch of mutineers and they need to put someone really strong that's going to whip us back into shape. So I was anticipating that we were going to have this super hardcore guy. And this guy shows up and he's got a nice smile on his face and he's super humble. And I remember one of the first things he said to us was like, I look forward to working with you guys. And I was, that work right there, I'm going to work with you guys. Not I'm in charge, I'm glad I'm taking over, I'm glad to be your commander. It was nothing like that. He said, hey, I'm looking forward to working with you guys. So all of a sudden it was totally different. And he started putting us in charge of things. Instead of him coming up with a plan, he would say, hey, you guys come up with a plan and let me know how you want to do it. And all of a sudden we had all this ownership and that made me reflect on the way the first guy had acted compared to the way this guy had acted. And I realized how important it was to be a humble leader and to listen to other people and to give ownership to other people. So that was the second platoon. And then in the third platoon, the story that I tell is we were, it was a good solid platoon and we had a good platoon commander. And we were out in the desert doing some training and some targets popped up. It's just fake. It's not war. But we started engaging the targets like we're supposed to and everyone gets in the prone position and is returning fire. And I did what I had been doing this whole time, which was detach. I kind of took a step back, shot a couple rounds, then kind of pulled back and looked to see what was going on. And I saw the call that needed to be made. And I gave the platoon commander a couple seconds to make a call and he didn't make it. So, you know, I made the call. And he left. And everyone said, okay, peel left and we peeled left and we left the scenario and we got our distance and then we stopped the training exercise. And we did a little debrief. And during the debrief, the platoon commander, you know, he said to me, well, why did you make that call? And I said, well, I can see what we needed to do, you know, and you hadn't made a call. So I made the call. And he goes, well, I actually didn't want to peel left. I wanted to assault the target. And right there in that split second, I kind of thought to myself, well, like part of my ego flared up and I was kind of thinking, I could have said something along the lines of, well, you need to make a call faster if you're not going to step up and lead, then I'm going to do it. Like I could have said that. But I realized at that moment in time, wait a second, I didn't need to make a call. The problem could have developed more. But for some reason, I thought that I needed to be the guy. And I said, no, you know what? You don't need to be the guy. You're a leader. You need to support your leader. And it's not about you. And so that right there also changed my attitude because then from then on in my career and in my life, I realized, hey, I don't always need to be the center of attention, which is what our ego wants us to do. Our ego always wants it to be about us.

It's not about us (13:14)

And it's not about us. It's not about us at all. In fact, in a situation like that, where the platoon commander wants to do something, maybe he sees something that I don't see. He's got a different strategic objective that he wants to accomplish and I'm undermining that. And what does that do to our platoon? Hey, it makes me feel great because I think, oh, yeah, I might not be the guy in charge, but I'm out here making a call. That's your ego. And what you have to do is subordinate your ego and be supportive of the person that's in charge and you move forward together as a team because that's what it's about. It's not about me. It's about the team. And so when you ask me, how do I start off the book and how do I figure out what order to go in, that's what I started with, these three foundational things. And I built on those things. And obviously the book extreme ownership, which you mentioned, that became kind of the core tenant of the way I think. But those seeds were planted in those earlier platoons. And so although I built upon those things, it was those three fundamental lessons that I started with and so that's what I started the book with. No, and you get that sense and the way that you structured things, they do build on each other.

Building relationships (14:19)

And it's building a mindset and having the principles to act through is I think really effective. And if you call it out as being a field manual, and I think it feels like that, like even if that had not been on the cover, you start to get the sense of, okay, wait, one thing is going to stack to the next is going to stack to the next. And also there are sort of larger movements in the book. One of them, you touched on a little bit here, I'd like to go deeper on is the notion of relationships. And you talk about how important relationships are and how, especially in the military in such high pressure situations, how do you build those relationships so that they're really meaningful so that in the dichotomy of leadership you talk a lot about, you can be too friendly, but you can also be too distant. So in a field manual sense, how do I, and I ask myself this as the CEO, right, there are days that I want to come and play with my teammates, right, like I care about them. And I want them to know that I really do care as a human being. And so you want to sort of be in it some days and play and just be one of the guys as it were. But I do worry about going too far and then you don't have the distance to get the things done that need to be done. So how do you build those kind of lasting and useful relationships? Yeah, this is, when I say that relationships are the most important thing in getting things done, when I look back at my career in the Navy and the SEAL teams, just about every single thing that I ever did was through relationships. So the amount of times that I looked at one of my subordinates and said, "No, you will do what I'm saying because I'm in charge," I don't think I actually honestly ever said that one single time. I think it was always, "Hey, this is what we got to get done. How do you think we should do it? Do you think this is smart?" And it was all based on relationships and up the chain of command too. There was never a time that one of my bosses said, "Hey, Jaco, shut up and you do what I told you to do." There was never a time that one of my bosses said that to me. If I had a question, if I pushed back, they gave me legitimate answers. If they didn't have good answers, then they would modulate or change what it is that they were telling me to do. So this idea of having relationships up and down the chain of command, and there's a word that people bring up a lot, and I think they're pretty interchangeable on its relationships and trust. Right? Trust is built on relationships. Relationships are built on trust. You don't trust me, we don't really have a relationship. The more deeply you trust me, the better relationship we have. So how do I build trust with you? So if you're above me in the chain of command, well, this is one of those answers that's so obvious, it's crazy, but people actually fail to do this, which is if you ask me to do something as my boss, I do it, and I do it well, and I do it consistently. And I go above and beyond what you ask. And if you want me to deliver this project by this date, I deliver it earlier and I deliver it to the best of my ability above and beyond what you expected. And you say, "Oh wow, when I asked John Cote to do something, he actually does it." And that's where it starts. It starts with that right there, with me performing, me offering advice, me taking what you ask me to do and doing it. That's the number one thing. If we flip those roles and now I'm in charge of you, how do I build trust with you? Well, what I do is I give you a project. And instead of me giving you a project and then saying, "Hey, here's how I want you to do this and here's how I want you to do the next part," instead I say, "Hey, here's a project. Let me know how you want to do it." And then you go figure out how you want to get done. And I don't micromanage you and I don't ask you a million questions about it and tell you no, don't do it like that, do it like this. I let you do it. And what does that tell you? That tells you that I trust you. I trust you. And when I trust you, you start to trust me. And by the way, if something goes wrong, instead of me jumping down your throat and hanging you out to dry and making you an example in front of everyone, I say, "Hey, let's figure out what went wrong. Did I not support you well enough? Did I not give you what you needed?" And so you realize, "Oh, he's not going to hang me out to dry. He's going to give me the support. He's going to try and teach me if something goes wrong, instead of try and drop the hammer on me." And in order to do this properly, of course, let's say you just started working for me. The first thing I would hand you wouldn't be a massively strategic, important project and say, "Hey, here's a multi-million dollar project you take and run with it. I'll be over here. I trust you. You make it happen because I don't know you. How can I trust you if I don't know you? So I'm going to give you a smaller project. I'm going to give you something a little to start on. And then you do that. You do that. Well, boom. Now I'm going to give you something bigger. And we continue to go in that direction until pretty much we get to a point where all I really have to tell you is, "Hey, this is the vision. This is what we're trying to make happen. Run with it." If you go, if you need to pass this barrier of whatever kind, let me know so I can let everyone else know. But it's on you. Run with it.

All Progress Depends On The Unreasonable Man (19:40)

One thing that I think I've struggled with as a leader is my success is all predicated on being the unreasonable man. And I don't know if you've ever heard that quote, "Burch and Russell," I think he said, "All progress depends," or the reasonable man conforms to the world, the unreasonable man insists that the world conform to him. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. And I have literally proven that in my life. Like everything has been an echo of everyone saying something couldn't be done. And then me going in, and it's a game I play called "No Bullshit, What Would It Take?" And then you figure out what it would take to do this thing. Everybody else just writes off because they say it's impossible going in and doing it. So then as things settle and now it's not just me sort of having to be this chaotic madman to get everything done, you've got a team, the temptation is when you assign something to somebody and they tell you that that's impossible, the reaction is to basically give them all the parameters of the job and say, "No, it is possible. Go, go, go." And I think that ends up robbing agency from people because I have to be so aggressive just to convince them that it is possible. And so where I would love to hear your thoughts is how much of the parameters of the project do you give someone? Like if you say, "I know this can be done in a week, I know it can be done on this budget," and you say that, "Hey, get this done." They're like, "It can't be done." Then of course to convince them what I do is I give them the path. And I say, "Well, if you did this, it would work. Do we agree?" And then when they agree, they can go do it. But by then I've now taken all of that ownership away from them and they're just executing on exactly my plan. And so I know I'm not getting what you're talking about. So it's like, "Fuck, do I really just back off and go, "I know it's not impossible, but it's impossible if I don't want to ruin this relationship. How do you handle situations like that?" I ask questions. Now when I ask questions, this is a tool, but it's also legitimate questions. So when I say, "Hey, Tom, here's the project I want you to get done. You take a look at it and tell me how you want to get it done." And you come back to me three days later and you say, "Hey, boss, I was looking at this thing and it's just not possible." And I don't say, "Well, actually it is possible. So I've already thought it through. Here's how you need to do it." And instead I go, "Well, what do you think our real challenges are?" And then you say, "Well, we can't get the supplies in time." And then you say, "Well, and also we don't have enough manning." And I say, "Okay, well, what's taking the supplies so long to get here?" And you say, "Well, they're coming across the country on a truck, and so it's going to take a week and a half for them to get here." And we don't have enough people because it's going to take 190 man hours in this amount of time and I only have three guys. So it's impossible. And I go, "Is there any other way to ship stuff across the country?" And you say, "Well, I mean, I guess we could fly, but it's going to be more expensive." "Oh, okay. Well, how much more expensive?" You see what I'm saying? And so eventually, you're going to come to the solution. You're going to come to the solution. And I'm going to be happy that you come to the solution. Or there's a chance that you actually say, "Hey, Jaco, it's not possible. And here's why." And you tell me something that I didn't foresee because I'm at a higher level. I'm elevated. I'm working on overseeing 14 different projects. You just got one. And when you dig in and you pull the thread, you realize it can't be done. I go, "Oh, okay. Well, that makes sense. Okay." Yeah.

Manipulation vs Truth (23:11)

I love that. And you have two elements that I'll say maybe are a dichotomy, but I'll be interested to hear what you think, which is you always soft-shoot a little bit to talk about it is kind of manipulation and then truth. And you have chapters on both in the book. Where do you come down on how just sort of transparent you are versus knowing? I have an outcome that I need to get to. I'm realistic about human psychology. If I just come in and fucking give you the answer, it doesn't work. You feel robbed of your agency and your ownership. And so I have to get you there slowly. But I'm also trying not to make it obvious that I'm leading you there. I'm legitimately asking these questions. I'm not doing this, "Okay, well, we're going to get you there." And that's what's going to happen. I already know the outcome. No. I think I know the outcome. But I'm not sure of it. You know how many times I'm sure of what the outcome is going to be? Not very often. So the truth is I am being totally transparent. I'm asking legitimate questions. I think I know the answers. I think they're going to lead to the right place. And so it's okay to let that run its course. Now you talked about manipulation. Manipulation obviously has a bad connotation. Leadership has a good connotation. What's the difference between the two? Because guess what? If I'm manipulating you, I'm trying to get you to do something. If I'm leading you, I'm trying to get you to do something. And many of the tools are very similar. So what's the difference between me leading you and me manipulating you? It's very easy for me to answer that question. If I'm manipulating you, I'm trying to get you to do something that's going to benefit me. If I'm leading, I'm trying to get you to do something that's going to benefit you, it's going to benefit the team, and it's going to benefit the mission. So for me, those are too easy. Those are too easy. It's real obvious. And by the way, if I'm a manipulator, I can get away with that for a little while. But eventually you're going to look at me for what I am. You're going to see that the maneuvers I'm making, the tools I'm using, I'm utilizing those tools for my own benefit. And as soon as you see that, you won't fully support me. You won't. The same goes for when I'm trying to make you do something good for yourself and for the team. You're going to see that too. And you're going to say, "He actually cares about me." That's what he's doing this for. And when you know I care about you, you'll do anything for me.

How to Deliver Criticism (25:40)

I mean, that's what it boils down to. If my team, and I mentioned that in the book, it's like, "Oh, I want to give you hard criticism. How do I give you hard criticism?" The first thing I have to do is make sure that you understand I care about you, which is not easy to do. And it's not always obvious. But if you know that more than anything else, what I want is for you to be successful. When I say, "Hey, Tom, I'm looking at the outcome of the last project and you were like three weeks past the time, I think there's some things that we could do to kind of make you a little bit more efficient in leading these things. If you know that my number one thing is that I care about you, you're going to be all ears to an extent. Because guess what percentage of the world is truly open for criticism? It's tiny. There's so few people that are truly open to criticism. I always use this example. Like, if I went and talked to your company and got done and was like, "Hey, Tom, it's great talking to your company. You got any feedback for me?" And you said, "Well, yeah. I think you could have spent a little more time talking about extreme ownership. It would have been a little bit better for my crew." And in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "Oh, really? Oh, you think? No, that's what we think." Even though I actually asked for feedback, I'm getting mad. My ego's perking up. So most of the time, people don't want to get that direct feedback. And in fact, sometimes when I hear people say, "I'm just going to get direct with this person. I'm just going to let them know exactly what they're screwing up." Almost always, that's a bad idea. And there's some people that sit there and they say, "Well, that's weak or whatever." But it's not. Because I'm going to get the message to you. I'm just going to deliver it in a way that you accept it more, that your mind is open to it. That's what I'm trying to do as a leader, as a friend, as someone that cares about it. And I'm going to tell you about you, "Hey, look, I need to get this information to you." Now, this will escalate over time. And if I've tried, if I said, "Hey, Tom, I think we could do this better and you still fail." And I say, "Hey, Tom, maybe you should try this and you still fail." And then I say, "Hey, Tom, I think this is the way you should go and you still fail." And then I'm going to get to a point where I'm saying, "Listen, Tom, this isn't working. The way you are doing this is not working." And I told you this and I told you that and I told you the other thing. And what I'm trying to say is that you need to change this part of your game. It is hurting you. So sometimes it gets there where I've totally exhausted every conversation that I can think of. You know how often I escalated to that point in my career, my life? Like, almost never. Almost never do you get someone that is so thick-headed that they're not going to listen to you. And when they are, it's because they have a giant ego. It's because they're ego. They can't see the fact that, "Oh, I'm making some real bad mistakes." And by the way, when you've delivered them that final message of like, "Hey, here's exactly what you're screwing up," what they say is, "No, you just don't know what it's like in my shoes." And that's when you know you can't help them. What is it? You've said that your entire podcast is about human nature. Why is that so important to spend that kind of time on? What is it you see that you want to communicate?

Why Understanding Human Nature is Crucial (29:08)

Well, if you want to be a good leader, you have to understand human nature. And the places where human nature reveals itself most clearly are times of extreme sorrow, pain, suffering, and inhumanity. So if you want to see what happens to human beings, how they behave, see what they do in a concentration camp. If you want to understand humans better, understand what they do in the genocide in Rwanda when 800,000 people were killed in 100 days, mostly with machetes. There's something going on there that we need to understand. If you want to understand leadership, you want to understand human nature, you need to look at the Mihlei massacre, which happened in Vietnam, which was perpetrated by American soldiers, normal American soldiers. Normal American soldiers, you see the typical war movie, they got the typical Americans, they got the kid from the city, they got the kid from the country, they got the jock, they got the rock. That's what they, and that's what this was. That's what their company soldiers was. And they went in there and committed heinous atrocities. And if we don't recognize what causes that, where that comes from, and that it's actually possible, then it's bound to happen again. You've talked on your podcast very eloquently about emotional control.

How to Control Your Emotions (30:42)

You've talked sort of fun and tongue in cheek about stuffing your emotions down. How the fuck do you do that when the person you're standing next to who you love and care about just got shot? How do you not hulk out and just fucking shoot indiscriminately? That's one of the things you have to watch out for. That's why you have to understand human nature, right? Because you have to understand, and believe me, like my deployments to Iraq, I was 30 plus years old, my last deployment to Iraq, I think I was 34 or 35 years old. But that's me. I'm a 35 year old man with a wife and kids. I have guys in my platoons that are 20 years old, 21 years old, 22 years old. I need to pay attention to them because they're going to have less insight into the world. And so it's going to be challenging. So that's what we do. That's what leaders are there for. So we as leaders, we have to constantly look at that and say, "Okay, I've got that going on." And I need to control it. So when people start getting emotional, when guys get killed, how do I get control over that? I absolutely have to control my own emotions because it's your guys. And believe me, when you lose one of your guys, you want to kill everyone, everyone. And you know you can't. And you know you shouldn't. So you have to detach from your emotions. You have to get control of them. And you have to make sure that you lead your men in the right direction so they don't do something that is not the right thing to do. I imagine Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a really fucking extraordinary way of practicing that where, and look, man, don't be wrong, I am in no way, shape, or form, experience, and be JJ. But I know enough about it sort of from the outside to say, sometimes the right answer, when it seems like you should be fighting and kicking as hard as you can, it's actually to relax. And so having to be somewhat counterintuitive, has that helped you? Like I'm always trying to find the thing for the guy that isn't good at this yet. Like, what can he do to practice? Because you don't want to send him to Afghanistan right now and say, "Hey, go out on the battlefield and figure this out." So what can he do or she do to practice learning to get better control of their emotions?

Influence, Respect, And Disciple Development

How does one learn to become more emotionally unattached? (33:02)

Well, it's interesting that you asked me that question. And one of my answers for people, when they say, "Hey, how can I get better at detaching control of my emotions?" I tell them to start training in Jiu Jitsu because you're going to get tapped out in Jiu Jitsu. Your ego is going to get smacked around so hard, you're going to lose your mind. And the more aggressive you get, the more aggressive you are, the more you're going to get beat down and the worse it's going to be. So you have to learn to control your emotions, no doubt about it. And then what you have to do is you have to start practicing it all the time. You have to start paying attention to the red flags that go up when I start raising my voice at you. I go, "Oh, that's your emotion. And for me, like the minute I feel some sort of anger, some sort of jealousy, some sort of frustration, most of the time I go, "Oh, you're getting mad. That's your ego. That's your getting emotional about this. Take a step back and listen to what the other person's saying. Take a step back and try and see it from their perspective. Take a step back and try and understand what they're trying to say because sometimes, if you're not a very articulate person, you're just making me mad. It's only because I don't understand what you're trying to say. Take a step back. Let's talk through it. So pay attention to, you know, I always talk about when you're sending an email to someone and you're typing like this, don't send that email. That's not a good email to send. That's an emotional email. Wait, write it out, fine. And then save it and read it later and you'll realize, "Oh, yeah, I was really mad about something when I was really frustrated." So how do you do it? You practice it. You pay attention to your emotions and you get control over. Have kids.

How do you gain influence and respect in a situation? (34:58)

If you have kids, you'll have to learn to get control of your emotions. How do you gain influence and respect? Like what's that process? Very similar to when we talked about trust and building trust and giving trust. If I want to gain the ability to influence you, well, then what I have to do is give you the ability to influence me. And when I say, "Hey, here's what we're trying to make happen. Here's what I want to do." And you say, "Well, I think we should do it like this." You know what I should say? "Okay, well, let's take a look at that." The more I allow you to influence me, the more open your mind gets for me to influence you. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to allow you to influence me and the more I allow that to happen, the more influence I'm going to have. Respect. Same thing. If I treat you like you're a plebe, like you don't matter, you're not going to respect me at all. But if I treat you with respect and respect you when you try and talk to me and I listen and I respect what you're saying and I try and understand it fully, then your respect for me is going to go up as well. So when you want to earn respect, give respect. When you want to earn influence, give influence. You want to earn trust and give trust. All those three are related. Now, that makes a lot of sense. And speaking of making sense, your children's books are rad, rad. And this is one of those things where for better or worse, the lesson I had to learn was to toughen up. So by nature, I am conciliatory. I am fearful. And that was not getting me anywhere in life. And so I had to find the gym. I had to put myself in situations where I was forced to stand my ground against people that were very intimidating. And it was like coming up in business for me was literally a, it was a brutal environment. And it was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. And like that's becoming, I don't know, passé for people and it seems sort of middle ages now to have to sort of scrap and fight your way up. But there is something in that process of getting tougher that gives you your own agency. Like I feel like I control my own life now in a way that I did not before I learned how to, and look, when I say learned how to fight, I'm talking intellectually. But having to stand up for myself, having to always be in deeply uncomfortable positions. And then also physically getting tougher through just adding strength to my body.

Writing Children's Books (37:35)

What made you want to write children's books and what are some of the core principles you hope kids take away from that? Well I decided to write kids books because I have four kids. And if you go out into the market these days and look for a book for kids that actually espouses the values that will make them lead a good life, there aren't very many. And so instead of complaining about it, I said, "Okay, well, I'll write some books." And the first book that I wrote was The Way the Warrior Kid, which is about a little kid who can't do any pull-ups. So he gets made fun of, doesn't know his times tables, so he gets made fun of, doesn't know how to swim, so he gets made fun of and gets picked on by the school bully. So his life is miserable. Last day of school, kind of everything comes to a head. He's crying behind the library. On his way home he remembers that his Uncle Jake is coming to stay with him for the summer. His Uncle Jake was in the SEAL teams. So his Uncle Jake is actually staying in his bedroom with him. So Uncle Jake shows up and says, "Hey, what do you want to do tomorrow? You don't have to go to school. You want to go for a swim. You want to go play basketball. What do you want to do?" And the young kid named Mark says, "Well, I don't know how to swim. I'm not good at sports. I can't do anything. I'm getting picked on." And he breaks down. And his Uncle Jake says, "Well, okay, let's look at these problems. All these different problems that you have, we can solve these problems. You have to be committed. You have to be willing to put in the work." And so over the course of the summer he teaches him how to study, teaches him to eat right, teaches him how to work out, teaches him how to swim, and teaches him jujitsu. So he knows how to fight. And it's obviously it's a transformational for the kid. He ends up writing his own warrior kid code about being a warrior. And that's what the story is. I was telling you earlier, I get little handwritten notes from kids all over the world that say, "Dear Mr. Jaco, or dear Uncle Jake, I'm six years old. I just did my first pull up and I know my times tables up to five. Thank you, Melvin." And those are the most rewarding things that I get are those things. But there was a really interesting, I got a letter and I know you get all kinds of stuff from people that say, "Hey, thank you. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for showing me the path," whatever. And I get a lot of those and I never read them on my podcast. I always read them, but I never read them. But I got one this letter from this guy and it was a great letter and he says, "I'm 37 years old. I was out of shape. I was overweight. I was eaten horribly. I wasn't advancing my job. I wasn't happy. I wasn't getting along with my wife." And he goes, "Then I read your book." He goes, "I started waking up a little bit. I started just doing a little bit of workout. I stopped drinking beer on the road. I did this. I did that." And he said, "It's been whatever it was. It's been eight months. I've lost 22 pounds. I got it promotion. My wife and I are happy." And I just wanted to say thank you for writing that book. And by the way, the book was way of the warrior book. So that's the one it took me by surprise because I've written the discipline equals freedom field manual, which is really focused on this kind of stuff for adults. And he read that kids book and it made it had a big impact. So then people say all the time, "Hey, you flanked us because you wrote this book. You said it's for kids." But every one of those moms and dads that reads those books go, "Oh, this is what it is." So that's how I ended up writing all these kids books, just seeing how, seeing the struggles that my kids went through growing up. And this is the other thing that made me do it was when you're an adult and your kid has some problem, you're kind of like, "F whatever." You're running a business or like I was in the military and my problems are these big, giant problems of where at war with other countries. There's guys being killed. That's a problem. And I look at my daughter and say, "Oh, she has no her times tables. Who cares?" And what I realized is when you're a kid, that's the whole world. The whole world is you feel stupid because you didn't know your times tables yet. And that's a real story. That story in the way of the warrior kid was my oldest daughter, who's very smart young and she's old now and goes to one of the best country colleges in the world. So she's not dumb. But she came home from school one day and said, "I'm dumb." And I kind of said, "What are you talking about?" She said, "I'm stupid." I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "All the kids know their times tables and I don't know them." And I said, "Well, how much have you studied them?" And she said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, you need to study them. You need to learn them." And so I sat her down. We made flashcards. And she studied them and in an hour she knew all of her time steps. Of course, this is my fault. Bad dad. I didn't teach her how to study. But you know in her mind she thought she was stupid. But I said, "You're not born knowing the time tables. You need to study them." So if I can make that mistake as a dad that cares about his kids, how many other parents are making that mistake? How many other kids go through life and they go, "Oh, I'm stupid." Or, "Oh, I'm not strong. I can't do any pull ups. I'm not strong." But really, have you ever done pull ups before? No. Oh, guess what? In order to get strong, you've got to do pull ups.

Disclipline in Kids (43:22)

And I talk about this in the book. Sure. Are there some kids that are going to be able to do pull ups out of the gate? Sure. Are there kids, some kids that can learn their time tables really quickly? Sure. You're not going to be graded everything. But you can get better.

Put Your Mind to It (43:32)

As long as you have the discipline, put your mind to it and are willing to work hard. So there's the kids' books. Dude, they're so good. I remember as a kid in middle school and we had to do pull ups. And because my last name starts with the B, I was one of the first people to try. So it was like my friend Lauren Aron jumps up. He just hangs. Like, am I really supposed to be able to do it? And he lets go.

Not Having BORN To Pull-Up (43:54)

I jump up and I go to pull myself and I'm like, "Oh, this actually isn't possible." Like, there is no way to pull yourself up like this. And I'm like, "Why are they having a sizz?" I couldn't understand. And then we get to Christian Russell and he bangs out 22. And I was like, "What?" Like that was so startling to me that somebody who had never done a pull up before in his life could do 22. And I was like, "Yeah, we are not all born equal. Some people have some advantages." But unfortunately, the message, "I did not have your book." And so I did not think, "Oh, I could get good at this." I just thought, "I suck at this." And you might not be able to get to 22. And if he worked out, he can get to 72. But you can get to 17. You can get to 20. You can get to one. Which if you can get to one, you can get to three. If you can get to three, you can get to seven. So many kids these days miss out on the fact that the correlation between working and studying and pushing yourself to the results that you get. And that's one complaint that I have about, or I shouldn't say complaint, but it's what I think hurts kids is they don't connect what they're doing now with the future. I know I didn't. When I was a kid, I was, "What's the future? It's tomorrow." The future is, "Oh, the weekend. On Friday night, we're going to go to Johnny's house and we're going to play war. That's the future." You don't realize, "Oh, you can actually set yourself up. What you're doing today is connected to the future." Okay, once you make that connection, you say, "Okay, maybe I'll study. Maybe I'll train. Maybe I'll work out harder." You can start doing those things because you can improve and you can have a better life. If you have discipline now, it'll give you freedom in the future. Yeah, for sure. Have you gotten any pushback on the fact that the way he deals with the bully is learning to fight, which I think is genius and the obvious answer, but I'm going to say it's the common answer.

FIGHTING Against a Bully (45:30)

I don't think I've gotten any pushback. I'm sure there's people that hate me or whatever. I'm sure there's people that disagree and think that the method that you should do is turn the other cheek or try and talk your way out of it. The problem is you need to be in a position where you can talk your way out of it because if you're around a person that's a bully, they don't understand talking. They don't care what you said to them. They're going to physically bully you. If you don't have the physical knowledge, presence, ability to stand up and stop that, then you're going to get abused. You're going to get beat up. That's, hey, that's a horrible reality. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that it is that way. As you know, in the book, he's actually able to, once he has the confidence and the true ability, he stands up to the bully and the bully is actually a weakling. He doesn't want to fight, but he'd never been challenged before, which is a very realistic bully. A bully, big kid, no one ever stands up to them because they're big. When someone finally says, "Oh, I'll actually fight you if I have to." The bully says, "Oh, you've never been in a fight before. Never had anyone stand up to them." That makes them get humbled really quickly. That is what happens. When someone knows how to fight, you don't have to fight. That sounds like one of those whatever spiritual things about, "Hey, the warrior that knows how to fight does not have to fight." It's like, I'm not saying like that.

I'm telling you right now, if you know how to fight, you have much rare chance of getting into a fight. When you're, when I was a kid, a younger kid, you're a teenager, I got a lot of fights. You could recognize when someone knew how to fight. You could look at them. Now that I've been trained, you get to and fought a ton, when I look at someone, you can see like, "Oh, this person knows how to fight." When someone looks at me, they're not thinking, "Hey, I'm going to take advantage of anything right here." It's not even just like, "Hey, this guy's big," but they can tell, "Hey, I'll fight. I don't really want to because I'm busy, but if you want to push me, we're going to have a problem and it's going to get solved my way." Having that is important. I can tell you right now, the amount of fights I've got in since, before I knew Jiu Jitsu, since after, it's directly correlated to the more you know, the less you fight. That is a spectacular place to wrap this particular edition up, man. Where can people find out more about you? I guess I'm on the typical social media platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. I'm at @jockowillink. I have a podcast called Jocko Podcast that we talked about. It's available wherever you listen to podcasts. My company, echlonfront, which is and I have my company Originmain, which is at where we sell stuff for Jiu Jitsu and stuff for life like these jeans. Then is the podcast website.

Closing Remarks

Last Impact (48:47)

Normally I have a pretty good guess how my guest will answer the last question. With you, your life is so varied. I'm actually not sure. What's the impact that you want to have on the world? Just help people learn the lessons that I've learned so they don't have to learn for themselves. There's a lot of mistakes that I've made. There's a lot of, I've been blessed and lucky and I explain this in leadership strategy and tactics that I've been very lucky to have been through what I've been through to been around the people that I've been around to learn the things that I've been blessed and lucky enough to be able to learn and I don't want to hoard them. I want to give them away. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing and trying to help people as much as I can. It's amazing. Guys, you will not be sorry if you dive in and read everything this man has ever written. Even for the adults, I'm going to tell you, checking out his kids' book is equally powerful. He has several. A coloring book, by the way, is out now, I think, or coming very soon. The podcast is surreal. You owe yourself listening to the podcast and hearing such a fascinating glimpse into the human condition. It is really incredible. Somebody who can go from the beauty of life so quickly to the horror side of life and yet wrap it up and make it all make sense is really extraordinary. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe and until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Jock, I fucking know. I was amazing, man. Appreciate it. There's a lot of people in mediocrity who have a nice resume, but they're one-timers, they hit it one-time deal, they busted it open, got a lot of money, but they're good. You're a mediocre now, man. What are you fucking doing today, tomorrow, the next fucking day?

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