Jocko Willink
Photo: Echelon Front
Spring 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq — the epicenter of the terrorist insurgency. Navy SEAL Jocko Willink is overseeing an operation involving U.S. soldiers, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy SEALs and friendly Iraqi forces when a firefight erupts. Bullets are flying like angry hornets. Moments later, one Iraqi ally is dead and two SEALs are wounded. Willink is about to learn a horrifying lesson: His men are shooting at each other!

As the leader, the man in command, regardless of all the unforeseen errors that led to the debacle, Jocko Willink realizes that it’s solely his fault. The event becomes the impetus for his first book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win (2015). War teaches Willink useful and relevant lessons that he apply to all facets of his life, including work, business, relationships and, of course, martial arts.

Fast-forward to the present: Jocko Willink is a successful author, podcaster, a retired SEAL, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a motivational speaker. One of his major inspirations in life, he says, is Miyamoto Musashi, a fellow warrior who also amassed a worthy amount of wisdom that can be applied to life and combat.

During the first half of the podcast, Jocko Willink delves into the power of humility. War afforded him the opportunity to cultivate this virtue, he says. He details the assets of humbleness, getting up every day at 4:30 a.m., maintaining a weak ego and a strong sense of purpose, and the importance of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Jocko Willink – Detachment from Emotions is the Master Key to Success

His themes on detaching from emotions like fear, panic and anxiety in order to induce calm under pressure, on the relationship between discipline and freedom, and on finding balance are all valuable entities that can foster growth in the real world. It’s about knowing when to step forward and when to step back.

This serves as a segue into the podcast’s second half, in which Jocko Willink discusses how to apply these topics in the martial arts realm. At one point, he describes an intricate sequence of BJJ movements that pertain to passing the guard and escaping from side control, then cautions that if you wait too long to abandon your guard, you’ll miss the transition moment that would have prevented your opponent from gaining a greater advantage over you.

The example is translatable to your own martial arts practice, as well as to your personal life, future plans and ability to tackle work and relationship challenges. Recognizing life’s transition moments, he says, can allow you to apply the contents highlighted during the podcast’s first half to build a better self.

The unique discussion on what death teaches us might be uncomfortable, but it’s also indispensable. As Jocko Willink likes to say, it’s about becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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