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How to take Extreme Ownership of your life

Extreme Ownership

When I first began The Happiness of Pursuit Podcast, I was incredibly dedicated to recording 50 episodes in the first year (1 week off for Christmas, 1 week off in the summer). I had been on track through starting a new job, the birth of our son, a few holiday’s and a few illnesses, and then all the sudden 6 weeks ago shit hit the fan.

My wife threw out her back, both of our kids got croup (which is the worst sound I could ever imagine coming out of a 4-month-old), I got sick twice, and my daughter then got pneumonia. Fortunately, she recovered in time for her second birthday party and Easter. We were almost out of the woods when I found out I have to have my wisdom tooth removed rather urgently (I figured it would be fun to be teething the same time as both of my kids).

Why did I share all this story?

Simple, to let you know that SHIT HAPPENS! No matter what you have planned, or how dedicated you are to executing on your mission, things will go sideways in a hurry. As a young parent, with two young kids, an accelerating career and growing podcast, I definitely had too much on my plate. All I could do during that time was focus on surviving. Identifying the most important things, like the health of my family, and my clients, and play catch up on the rest when I could.

It was a very deflating feeling. Every time I felt like I was catching up, something would happen and I fell further behind. Even more frustrating, was the feelings of guilt or selfishness that accompanied me every time I was trying to play catch-up when I should have been spending quality time with my family.

I had an inner conflict of the motivation quotes about hard work, dedication and getting things done, battling with quotes about the importance of family, life’s true meaning and balance.

I finally found an incredibly powerful quote that helped from US Navy Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin co-authors of “Extreme Ownership:”

Observe, Prioritize and Execute

Extreme Ownership

I cannot do their story the same level of justice they do in their book, however, the emphasis of this quote and the lesson came from intense battlefield situations where they were in fierce firefights fighting for their lives. While I felt like I was in a hell storm of my own, what I was dealing with will NEVER compare to what any of the brave men and women of the armed forces, or those in any uniform for that matter, face daily.

What I did gather from their stories and lessons shared in “Extreme Ownership” helped me to put a lot of my challenges into context, not only in this situation but for life in general.

The biggest lessons I learned from Extreme Ownership:

  1. I really had nothing to complain about, my family was safe and healthy (nothing like what the soldiers had to deal with overseas)
  2. I needed to re-prioritize, quickly, and accept the changing circumstances for what they were; temporary.
  3. Focus on the immediate obstacles in front of me, and execute flawlessly (regardless if that meant watching 2 hours of Bubble Guppies, or staying up late to re-write a proposal)
  4. Learn from the experience and plan for similar situations in the future, this will not be the last time my kids throw a wrench in my plans.
  5. Be patient!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

Extreme Ownership

While there are many more lessons I’ve taken from Extreme Ownership; these are the lessons that helped me cope with these last few weeks. I feel foolish comparing my story to those of the two hero’s that wrote the book but know that their book can help people better understand how to become a better leader, and more importantly, a better version of themselves.


Doug Foley
Doug Foley is a podcast host, content marketer, and problem solver. He is also the youngest of 7 brothers and sisters, a proud father of 2, and is on a mission to help people find their passion, take action, and build the life they want to live. He frequently writes about entrepreneurship, personal development, and motivation.
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