A few weeks ago I went to an event put on by Jocko Willink, Leif Babin and their team called the Echelon Front Muster. It was an amazing event put on by an outstanding group of people.
I can’t say I put a lot of thought into any expectations I had. However, I can say the event would have exceeded anything I could have imagined.
Going into this event life wasn’t quite going like I wanted. I’m certainly not complaining but I just felt stagnant in my professional life. I felt like I needed a B12 shot. This stagnant feeling was carrying over into other aspects of life.
I didn’t walk away with that same feeling.
Spending 2+ days with leaders from across the globe learning at the Echelon Front Muster about simple concepts was huge. Learning from Jocko and Echelon Front as well as just watching the way they carried themselves was refreshing.
Today I want to share the 3 big takeaways I had from spending time with Jocko Willink and the rest of his crew at the Echelon Front Muster which is mostly comprised of former Navy SEALs. Before we get to deep I’ll answer a couple introductory questions that will get you up to speed.
Who is Jocko Willink?
If you don’t know who I’m talking about when I say the name Jocko Willink I highly recommend you do a google search. He’s a fascinating character. He used to be a Navy SEAL, was the Task Unit Commander of a highly successful unit during his time, has since authored 7 books (I think), has a great podcast and, I can say this without hesitation, has had a profoundly positive impact on my life.
He teaches very simple principles. They aren’t easy to follow, but if you do, they will work. Trust me.
What is this muster thing?
One of the irons Jocko has in the fire is a consulting agency called Echelon Front. That group puts on a leadership conference a few times a year called a muster. I just attended the 7th one of these events in Chicago called Muster 007.
These events pull in hundreds of leaders from around the globe to develop themselves as leaders over the course of two days of training.
If you are looking for leadership training for yourself or a subordinate of yours I cannot recommend this event enough.
Testimony from one of their crew
One of the cooler conversations I had was with one of their crew members. I don’t know his name and will likely never talk to him again but the words he shared with me really put a whole different spin on what I was learning.
During one of the breaks at the event I got to talking to one of the crew members. He shared a few examples of how Jocko and his team are living out the concepts they were teaching. The easiest one to illustrate is of the importance of discipline.
Jocko is famous for waking up at 430am every single morning. He says the discipline to do this is one of the keys to his success. Part of the event was the option to wake up with him and his team at 430, meet them in the lobby and go workout with them.
Of course I did this. One thing I noticed was that Jocko and his team weren’t working out with us. I found this a little odd. I found out after the first day’s workout that him and his team woke up at 315am to get their workout in so they could monitor us during our workout.
How ridiculous is that? Him and his team were already up late keeping the conference moving and to wake up at 315am was just crazy to me. This was an amazing example of practicing what you preach.
The whole event was amazing. While I took 25 pages of notes there were four main things I took away from it. I’ve distilled down all these notes from the Echelon Front Muster to a few key takeaways.
#1 The Discipline Will Set you Free
One of Jocko’s main messages is that the discipline will set you free. He wakes up at 4:30 every morning and believes that waking up early and getting after it is a key to being squared away and having success. If you know me you know I believe in putting in the work and these two seem to align well.
I agree 100%. Maybe its because I’m a morning person or maybe because a lot of his values align with mine but I also try and get up early. My alarm goes off at 5 every weekday but tend to back off the 5am on weekends.
Each night before bed I put a list of action items to accomplish. The two big rocks I tackle every morning are writing for the blog and getting a workout in.
I find that my day goes significantly better if I’m up early, breaking a sweat and getting after it.
#2 Think Strategically All the Time
This point right here, while simple, was great. It actually came up during a live Q & A session with Leif and Jocko. We had just previously been discussing the difference between tactics and strategy.
The attendee asked something to the effect of “how do you know when to think tactically and when to think strategically?”
Jocko came back with “THINK STRATEGIC ALL THE TIME”.
How amazing is that?
Thinking strategically all the time is difficult. It will take discipline and a ton of humility. If you don’t quite understand what I’m talking about here is a quick example.
Let’s say you are having a disagreement with your wife that is truly insignificant in the long run. It isn’t a big deal about who is right. Maybe you are both right or both wrong. Doesn’t matter.
Tactically you may want to win the disagreement. It would feel great to “get a win” and prove you are awesome. However, strategically you realize that a priority in your life is to have a long and happy marriage.
Therefore, Jocko is saying that by thinking strategically you should forget your ego and come to a resolution in the disagreement as quickly and as peacefully as possible. It doesn’t matter who “wins” it just matters that you keep you and your wife’s relationship on the path to strategic victory.
This example plays out in a lot of other areas. Trying to lead a long and healthy life?
That donut would certainly be feel great while you are eating it (tactically) but would certainly put a damper on your health (strategically).
Hitting the snooze button always feels awesome (tactically) but you’d most certainly be better off if you got that run in (strategically).
You get the idea. Play the long game. Be patient and know that you are winning strategically.
#3 Own your problems and the solutions to those problems
This is what Jocko may be the most famous for. The idea that you should own every problem in your world is known as Extreme Ownership. If you haven’t read the book by the same title I could not recommend it enough.
The idea of extreme ownership is that you have the ability, better yet the responsibility, to take ownership of all problems in your world.
The great thing about this mindset is that it gives you the power to positive affect all aspects of your life. It isn’t easy but it is freeing. If you admit to yourself that you can have a significant impact on anything not going great in your world it gives you the power.
The idea is essentially that the ball is always in your court. You may have to reposition the battle in your mind or maybe show a little more humility than you are used to but it is most certainly true.
What do you think?
Have you heard of Jocko? What do you think of his message? I’m certainly a fan. If you want to hear more I’d highly recommend checking out his podcast, Jocko Podcast, or any of his three books.