I’ve been meaning to post a “Top Five Podcasts for Men” article for some time now. It struck me though, as I struggled to find time to pen this very article, do any of us really have time to dive into five podcasts? I know I wouldn’t, were they presented all at once. So I decided to narrow it down to the one you’ll need most. The one that will most elegantly dovetail with Taylor and Jared’s Maccabee episodes. The one you’ll keep coming back to. The one you’ll get something out of each and every episode.
I’m talking about the Jocko Willink podcast – a relative newcomer to the podcast milieu.
Jocko Willink is a highly decorated Navy SEAL who led multiple deployments to Iraq and beyond. He began as an enlisted sailor and eventually went to OCS, became an officer, and went on to train, select and lead other prospective SEAL officers. He’s also a husband, father, surfer, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast, and, now that he’s out in the civilian world, specializes in training executives in leadership for the business world.
Many of his podcasts dissect classic military memoirs. I highly recommend the Vietnam and WWI episodes in particular: Platoon Leader, The Killing Zone, and Ernst Junger’s Storm of Steel. Besides the fact that these are epic stories in and of themselves, offering profound insights into the nature of masculinity, violence and honor, Jocko also does a Q&A section in which he dishes out great advice on everything from how to argue with your wife, to how to be a more effective leader or recover from BJJ injuries. (His episode with Green Beret/MMA champ Tim Kennedy is also a must)
One of the core principles you’ll take from Jocko is his concept of extreme ownership. In an interview with Tim Ferriss, Jocko was asked (paraphrasing) “so you had the job of choosing officers to lead SEALs. All of these guys had made it through OCS, BUDs, the SEAL training pipeline. So you’ve already got the most physically fit, highly motivated guys the country has to offer. How on earth do you narrow it down and eliminate guys when they’re all badasses??”
Jocko’s response: “simple. We put each of these guys in charge of a unit and war-game. Then we unleash complete hell on them and make sure everything goes wrong. Afterwards, I will tear into the leader and demand to know why he failed. Most men will respond ‘my communications went down, we didn’t have enough ammo, my medic got killed, etc’ An outstanding leader will immediately assume complete responsibility for the failure of the mission and begin recounting his own mistakes. That’s the difference.”
That bit of wisdom never left me. I meditate upon it every time I screw something up and feel tempted to make excuses or defend myself. Own it. Accept the consequences. Improve.
While the fact that Jocko is a SEAL, a combat vet, and a martial artist gives him automatic street cred with weaklings like myself, it’s actually not the reason you’ll follow him. The guy may look like a craven deity from Viking mythology, but he’s not a meathead. His nuanced answers to questions, thoughtful reflections on history, emphasis on self-control and even readings of poetry offer just as much to the intellectual as they do the athlete. So regardless of your disposition, give Jocko a listen on iTunes or YouTube. You’ll be the better for it.