Resources That Can Help You Grow


New York Times best-selling author Willink — having written both on his own and with fellow U.S. Navy SEAL Leif Babin — has committed his deeply held leadership philosophy and life experience to print for those who choose to read more.

As a man who’s in the business of answering questions in his leadership consulting work, Willink said, “I get asked the same questions over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.” Whether the client is from construction, finance, energy, insurance, or manufacturing, he said, “They ask me the same questions.”

Answering these questions has, at least twice, put Willink’s work in the #1 position for business on the New York Times Best Sellers list, from 2015 to 2020.

‘It is pretty simple, but it’s not easy.’

Extreme Ownership. Willink and Babin first topped the list, reaching #1 in Business, in Dec. 2015 with “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” In 2020, it was released with a new foreword and Q&A.

As Willink said, “‘Extreme Ownership’ laid out the initial principles of combat leadership,” including Cover and Move, Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command. The book also addresses such key leadership topics as being an effective team leader, instilling belief, checking your ego, and leading up and down the chain of command. Its closing chapter, “Discipline Equals Freedom—The Dichotomy of Leadership” would lead to separate books on each of those topics.

The Dichotomy of Leadership. In Oct. 2018, Willink and Babin reached #2 in business on the New York Times Best Seller list, right behind presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Leadership.”

“‘The Dichotomy of Leadership’ is about the balance that a leader has to maintain: Even with those laws of combat, there has to be balance,” Willink said. As introduced in “Extreme Ownership,” the principles of combat do not eliminate the forces that pull leaders in different directions. There is always a need to understand when to lead and when to follow. Effective leadership is an ongoing balancing act of knowing when you let your people operate on their own and when to provide more hands-on management.

Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual. In Feb. 2020, Willink made a solo appearance with his #1 New York Times Best Seller, “Leadership Strategy and Tactics.”

“It’s the actual skills to put these things to work,” said Willink. “I have quotes in there, ‘Don’t say this, say this.’ So it gives people the ability to actually take these principles and apply them.” Making extreme ownership actionable has been the overarching theme of these BuildWitt leadership videos with Willink. “I tried to take the questions that I get asked all the time, and put them into a book, so people could read the book and go, ‘Yep, I’ve got this issue. Here’s how we’re supposed to handle it.’”

And you can never start too early.

As the father of four, Willink wanted his children to have access to books with the values he teaches embedded in them, so he created a series of Warrior Kid books, illustrated by Jon Bozak.

Way of the Warrior Kid. Starring his nephew Marc — who is facing the challenges of middle school — the Warrior Kid books follow Marc’s progress as he learns the Way of the Warrior Kid from his Uncle Jake (not surprisingly, a U.S. Navy SEAL), who comes to stay for the summer.

As Willink read from the first book, “Marc was an average kid … with average kid problems. Okay, maybe more problems than the average kid: He didn’t know his times tables, he couldn’t do any pull-ups, he didn’t know how to swim, and he got picked on and bullied by Keith Williamson, who was a big ruthless monster.”

The series includes Way of the Warrior Kid: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy SEAL Way: A Novel, Marc's Mission: Way of the Warrior Kid (A Novel), Way of the Warrior Kid 3: Where There's a Will... (A Novel), and Way of the Warrior Kid 4 Field Manual. Willink provides motivation for kids to be their best, inspiration for making good choices, and a foundation for self-confidence and self-reliance.

“Kids can learn at a young age to be humble, to work hard, that discipline equals freedom, like all these things that I talk about,” Willink said. “You can learn those things as a kid, and they will benefit you. And you can learn them as an adult, and they will benefit you. But I figured why not start early?”

Takeaways.

No matter how often he is asked the same questions about leadership, Willink answers them. This repetition has helped embed his ideas in industries as varied as construction, finance, energy, and manufacturing.

Repetition can be a critical learning tool for you, as well. None of these concepts qualify as being one and done. So, listen to the videos here at BuildWitt. Check out his Jocko Podcast. Read — or reread — his books, and share his children’s books with your children.

Willink summed it up best: “All this stuff is simple, not easy. I work with companies. I work with individuals, I work with people that are completely and utterly dedicated to leadership in their organization. They’ve read all my books, they’ve listened to every podcast, and they’ll still, you know, say, ‘Well, you know this team didn’t do it right, because they don’t have the right attitude.’ It’s like, alright, let’s pull this one apart. So it’s not easy. It is pretty simple, but it’s not easy.”