How to Kill It In Life: Taking Extreme Ownership

In one of my earlier articles I talk about some of the actions you need to start taking to help you become more outcome independent. Moreover though, the article talked about a fundamental yet simple equation to think about. E + R = O, this implies that Event (E) plus your Reaction (R) derives the Outcome (O). Reacting in a certain way requires you to have a certain presence, control in frame, but more over, it requires you taking ownership of your life!

Event Plus Reaction is Outcome

There’s a few things that will help you on your journey to self improvement:

  1. Recognise your self-destructive behaviours and thoughts
  2. Start taking positive measures and controlling how you start thinking about things
  3. Align your thoughts and feelings that eventually create a strong urge for you to start taking action
  4. Recognise that sometimes you just need grit, hardwork, determination to continue with the process
  5. Above all, enjoy the journey and learn to be ‘event’ or ‘outcome’ independent

But one thing that prevents us from doing any of the above is our ego. Controlling this ego is purley an internal game, not an external one. That is, controlling yourself (your ego) and not others is of fundamental importance.


  • puts up a facade
  • stops us from being truly present
  • never helps us feel fulfilled
  • is the enemy of empathy

Finally though, ego prevents us from taking accountability.

Unless you can start taking accountability of everything in your life, you will never find fulfillment that you so much need. Take this as my written word to you, personally. I will not back away from this statement.

Unless you take ownership of everything in your life you will never find fulfillment.

You play a never ending game of blaming others and other events. You continue to rely on others, their emotions, their actions, and their efforts.

So what does taking ownership look like?

Taking ownership means that you cannot blame your spouse, your kids, your boss, your colleagues, your parents, your neighbor, your local politician, your coach, your teacher, in fact any one else that you have a direct or indirect link with. It means that you release your expectations and control that you otherwise think you have on others.

Taking ownership means leading others when and where required. It means asking yourself what you can do, instead of asking what they can do for you. It means become proactive and not reactive. Finally it means that you start taking responsibility of the outcomes so you can learn from failures and get better at avoiding them!

What does taking ownership NOT look like?

It does not mean that you start taking accountability of others. Taking ownership does not mean that you stop holding others to higher standards. Nor does it mean that you start thinking you need to fully control events or outcomes.


Taking Extreme Ownership

If you haven’t encountered this book I strongly suggest you read it. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, a SEAL leader explains how the lessons he learned in combat are relevant to leaders in any role.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

The book provides fundamental leadership lessons through Willink’s insightful combat experiences and stories. Willink examines a number of leadership concepts that have been proven as effective in both combat and business scenarios. This does not imply that it does not apply to your situation.

For all the definitions, descriptions, and characterizations of leaders, there are only two that matter: effective and ineffective. Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win. Ineffective leaders do not.”

Willink explains that a leader needs to be humble and understand when they were wrong. Owning up to mistakes and establishing a way to right any errors is fundamental to being an effective leader. Leaders need to leave the ego at the door, and their agenda is entirely devoted to their team, they need to forget about themselves as an individual. Willink’s perception of an effective leader is someone who is able to focus purely on their team and the task at hand.

Why is this important? The biggest part of taking ownership is indeed taking the reigns, that is, using leadership! Leading your teams, family, and even yourself in a sense becomes a key point in helping achieve your very own mission in life.

But usually any related conversation goes something like this.

Me: ‘You need to take ownership’

They: ‘But what about others, I can’t control them’

Me: ‘True, but you can lead them!’

There are also other points to consider, such as, how far do you go with taking ownership?  In short, the answer is basically as far as you can take it, without voiding others from their responsibilities. You do not start doing tasks for other people, that is, you do not simply start bailing them out.

Ginger Bread Hay Themed Under Blue Cloudy Sky during Day Time

Extreme Ownership doesn’t mean you start bailing them out!

Managing kids is a great example. Say you want them to clean their room, then you don’t do it for them! That is not taking ownership. Instead you teach them the values and principles of having a daily habit. You teach them the importance of having a clean environment. You reward them for good behaviour. That is taking ownership. That is leadership.

The same applies to everyone else. Your spouse, your colleague, your boss! your friends… everybody.

Therefore success for you, when it comes to others, is helping others become more successful. It’s about disconnecting from your ego and trying to lead others to succeed. You must take on that responsibility -whether it is a successful outcome or a failed outcome does not matter in this context. You have to take responsibility for your team.


But why should I take on this burden and be so nice?

You’re not being nice. This is not being nice for the sake of pleasing others. Taking ownership is about leading the people or the community around you that indirectly does benefit you -that is, you find fulfillment. You also have a strong impact on others, helping create a positive change in other peoples lives and not just yourself. It’s never about bending over backwards for others.

Taking ownership is the critical step, that will help define outcomes that you are after. It is the first step that let’s you start taking action and helps you achieve your mission.

It is a driving force behind you having the desire to stick to your roadmap and your journey, and helping you stay determined- and not quitting.

Reducing the self-destructive behaviours such as the ‘victim mentality‘ gets easier as you take on this leadership role. It’s a positive spiral, where the more you take ownership, the less of a ‘victim’ you feel. The less of a ‘victim’ you feel, the more you want to take ownership. Therefore you become more pro-active. Leading you to take reigns of your own life. Meaning you can start controling your life much more effectively.

Mind you, you don’t want to start controlling outcomes. Once again, the biggest variable you control is your reaction. So keep the focus on that.

Although it can feel tiring, you will indeed find the process (your journey) more fulfilling. It is much, much easier to just shift the blame onto others. I do welcome you to keep going down that path if you so much want a ‘convenient‘ life. However the convenience of shifting blame onto others comes at a really heavy price.

The cost is equal to more frustrations and anxiety, you continuing down a spiral of self-destructive behaviours, you not being able to effectively stick to your mission, and people treating you like shit. So that is a decision I leave up to you.


In Conclusion

Once we recognise what our egos prevent us from really achieving we soon come to the conclusion that we need to do something about that. We also realise that to do something means to control our reactions and our actions, rather than others and other situations. I repeat this often on Leansum, but that’s because it is just so very important!

But to really control our reaction and our actions means taking ownership of absolutely everything in life. This can seem like a daunting task, but one that exudes much better outcomes for you.

Taking ownership means that you stop shifting blame and responsibility onto others while becoming a great leader (for your family, friends, colleagues, community, or all). You need to learn to lead others that directly or indirectly impact you in any way.

In short:

  1. Recongise that ego is a major roadblock
  2. You do this by taking ownership of everything in your life
  3. You further this by holding your self responsible for your reactions and actions
  4. Take ownership of others by leading them, holding them accountable, or guiding them i.e. become more proactive instead of reactive
  5. Note taking ownership does not mean being ‘the nice guy’, you can prevent that from happening!
  6. Instead be the ‘doer’ and the ‘giver’, not the ‘receiver’ of value
  7. This will help not just others find success, but you will find more fulfillment and help you on your mission

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