What will you choose?
Extreme Ownership. The title of a brilliant book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin which I am taking people through at the workplace. It demands that you own everything in your world, and there is no-one else to blame. It’s a mindset that says if I don’t assume responsibility for something, I cannot do anything about it, even if it isn’t ‘my job’. Going through this material with people I have realized that it is a book for leaders – people who step up and take responsibility – and not for followers. Many people want the luxury of having someone to blame, and thereby sit back and wait for others to improve their lot. But if you are a leader, then it’s all on you to decide to get things done. It is very challenging, and very true.
On the weekend I decided I needed to go for a run – just a quick 6km. I parked the car and headed out along the beachfront. It was about 10h30 and the sun was more or less out, but I could feel the heat. It was good. Just after the turn-around point I was heading back and the clouds had come up, the sun was gone, and it started drizzling. Then it rained proper. It was an awesome feeling, running in the rain. As I was running along, I pondered my reaction to the rain, and the heat for that matter. At other times perhaps, I might have got frustrated at the tiring heat, and the bothersome rain. And I almost sensed a voice telling me that I have that choice.
“You can decide to be upset with the rain, and happy with the heat, or vice versa. Or you can be happy with both, or just pissed off at both. Ultimately the weather doesn’t care. It just is. Only you are affected by it, and it is entirely your choice what that affect will be.”
Coming back to Extreme Ownership, all of us, leaders and followers alike, have our own lives to live. To lead, in fact. Whether we end up as career criminals or make a positive global impact, we are responsible. It comes down to our choices. Like the weather on the run, we will have both good and bad times, and we can embrace and grow, or blame and wither. It’s our choice. And the sad consequence is that if we do not own our actions, our lives will be permanently stunted. No doubt some people reading this will say that their upbringing, financial situation, childhood or adult trauma, or something else is what’s holding them back, and there is nothing they can do. While not wanting to marginalise those experiences, life will still ask you the same question: “What will you do with the years you have left?” Only you can make that choice. Only you can make that shift. Only you can decide to stay as you are and blame someone/thing else.
You cannot change your past, but you can choose your future. What will you choose?
Dieter & Margaret