Jocko Willink is an extremely successful author & entrepreneur who gives big hope to veterans and young people around the world. But not everything is perfect and Jocko is not an exception.
I have immense respect for the military personnel who protect the American citizens from the likes of terrorists & tyrannical countries. However, some people tend to use their military badges to market themselves and scam people.
Jocko is not one of them.
After watching hours upon hours of The Jocko Podcast, and reading Extreme Ownership, I realized some major flaws in Mr. Willink’s advice and philosophy. And no one has talked about it!
People point out the major flaws in David Goggins’ way of life, people have criticized Jordan Peterson’s philosophies and ideas, but no one points out the semi-toxic ways of Jocko.
In this post, I’ll cover how Jocko’s advice is not for most people and how he has masterfully made a cult-like following. We’ll also take a look at some interesting findings of Willink.
Who is John Gretton “Jocko” Willink?
John Gretton Willink, or more commonly known as Jocko Willink, is an ex-Navy SEAL turned entrepreneur. He served the military during the war in Iraq, as the commander of the SEAL Team 3 (Task Unit Bruiser). The battle took place in Ramadi. Jocko received a Bronze Star & the Silver Star for his service and he achieved the Lieutenant Commander rank.
Jocko had an excellent career in the military and we salute him for his service to the nation, however, this is not the highlight of Mr. Willink’s career.
Even though I highly doubt that anyone reading this post doesn’t know who Jocko is, I’ve still added this section for context for the 1% that don’t.
Jocko Willink Navy SEAL Career
Like every other Navy SEAL, Jocko went through the BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training) as well. Jocko often mentions that BUD/S is not a highlight of a SEAL’s career or training and has an open bias towards SEALS who have gone through a deployment.
He was part of BUD/S class 177 and is reported to be one of the best performers of his class. After completing the STT (SEAL Tactical Training) and his 6-month probationary period, Jocko received the “NEC 5326” (Combatant Swimmer) and was given the SEAL insignia to wear.
Mr. Willink has given 8 years of his life to military service. He was enlisted with SEAL Team ONE and SEAL Team TWO.
Jocko later became a mustang via Officer Candidate School and with his newfound expertise and experience, he became a platoon commander. He has been deployed to the Middle East, Europe, and even Asia.
The highlight of his military career was the vital role he played in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He deployed to the city of Ramadi in ’06 as the commander of Task Unit Bruiser which consisted of amazing personnel like Chris Kyle, Jonny Kim, Michael Monsoor, Marc Alan Lee, and Kevin Lacz.
He has even served as an instructor for the Navy SEAL.
John Gretton “Jocko” Willink retired on October 2010.
Soon after retirement, Jocko Willink and his SEAL buddy Leif Babin, launched Echelon Front, a leadership consulting firm. The firm was a success as Mr. Willink has a striking personality, backed by two decades of experience in the military. Echelon Front works with corporations and businesses, and help the upper management become better leaders.
He also has a weekly podcast, “The Jocko Podcast”, which is very popular among young people. Apart from this, Jocko is also an instructor at Victory MMA & Fitness, where he teaches jiu-jitsu. Jocko is also the co-owner of Origin USA, which sells various products ranging from fitness equipment, nutrition supplements, and apparel.
Flaws In The Jocko Willink Extreme Ownership Method
Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a big fan of Jocko until I started noticing how people are self-sabotaging their lives because of him.
While there are people who have lost weight or improved their career with extreme ownership, most people are actively making life worse for themselves and here’s why:
Extreme Ownership makes people hopeless and cynical.
What Jocko doesn’t understand is that people have different personalities, temperaments, and experiences. Taking “extreme ownership” leads to severe depression and regret most people.
When you try to find reasons to blame yourself for everything wrong going on in your life, relationship, health, etc., and you are not a strong-willed person like Jocko, you are bound to get depressed or become delusional.
The idea of Extreme Ownership is simply brilliant, but it is only suited for individuals with very high-stress tolerance. For example, a Navy SEAL or a Wall Street broker in the 80s. This principle does not apply to everyone even though Jocko and his team keep saying it can.
Finding things you can improve in each mistake you make is an essential part of growing as a person, but there’s a limit of how many things a person can improve without feeling like the worst pile of garbage to walk the face of the earth. That’s just how our minds work.
Jocko is an extremely disciplined and genetically gifted person. I think we all can agree on that. And that’s exactly why the extreme ownership concept works so well for him, he can actually implement it without burning out. But the chances are most of the people who follow Jocko are not as gifted as he is. And his followers need to realize that.
Here’s the paradox which most Jocko fans get into:
Everyone has a distinct personality and stress-tolerance, which is the result of various factors including childhood trauma, financial condition, personality type, IQ, social intelligence, etc. And for the best life possible, you should try to find ways to do the hard things in a way that you like.
Let me elaborate, if you hate writing essays then the Jocko advice would be to, “Get after it and get it done!”, (you probably read that in Jocko’s voice), however, the optimal advice would be to find different ways you can start writing the essay. For example, try putting a timer of 1 minute and only write for 1 minute, but if you feel like continuing, feel free to do so. Or use the classic Pomodoro Technique of working for 25 minutes and resting for 5. These are time tested methods that will help you become a person who can then start having extreme ownership.
What 99% of Jocko’s followers do is that they go straight ahead and start looking for ways to find blame. They blame themselves if they were procrastinating instead of working, they blame themselves if their boss treats them horribly or doesn’t pay on time. Now, there is always blame to accept, but explicitly accepting blame for every action or mistake takes a big toll on your self-esteem. And unless you have god-like self-confidence like Jocko, you will eventually fail and get depressed.
Jocko’s philosophy has helped big corporations and it worked wonders for his platoon in Ramadi, Iraq. But that’s mostly because both such workplaces attract/require/hire people with a very high-stress tolerance. and self-confidence. With high self-confidence, there comes narcissism which is what extreme ownership helps solve. It forces humility and it counteracts the narcissism which results in better efficiency.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t follow Jocko’s Extreme Ownership if it works for you. But if it is not, then please don’t blame yourself for it. It is a shame that Jocko has not talked about this topic but it most likely because Echo is a bootlicker and is often shut up by Jocko’s intensity during Q&A sessions.
Jocko thinks extreme ownership works for everyone because it did for him and his specific clients. But he never factors in how the mind of a metropolitan work, because he has simply no experience working with them. He just gives a scripted speech and teaches pre-written material to the employees of the company which hire him. He has only worked with people of military or/and sports background so we shouldn’t blame him for this lack of awareness. Though Jocko should take extreme ownership of this fact. Right?
David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me also presents a similar issue, but David’s philosophy is much more extreme and brutal than Jocko’s. I’ll cover Mr. Goggins next week, so stay tuned for that.
Jocko Doesn’t Believe In Masks For COVID-19
This is not clickbait, Jocko doesn’t practice wearing a mask or social distancing for that matter.
Jocko brought a 70-year-old S.Vietnamese SOG soldier, John Stryker Meyer (or Cowboy), on The Jocko Podcast episode number 258. After the podcast, he took a photo with Mr. Meyer, and as you can see in the screenshot below, he is neither wearing a mask nor practicing social distancing.
Unlike Joe Rogan who tests everyone present in the podcast for Covid-19 before the meeting, Jocko has not mentioned anywhere whether he tests his guests and his staff at all. This is quite concerning as it is a weekly podcast and he often invites guests from different states. Jocko soon tested positive for Covid-19 as well, which makes it very likely that Mr. Khahn Doan contracted the virus from Jocko or from someone at the podcast.
Jocko did feel guilty for his carelessness and shared the link of the donation page of “Cowboy”, where he donated $2,000 himself and the total contribution was a whopping $33,873. And this is why I love Jocko, he might be a little narcissistic, but he walks his talk.
Although, people were concerned about the co-relation of the timing of the report, and the podcast, Jocko never addressed this incident further.
I don’t think that wearing a mask and social distancing should be a political issue, it is for the safety & security of our loved ones. As an influencer, I think Jocko should’ve been more precautionary and he should’ve at least wore a mask.
I’m not the only one that feels that way. On the Jocko Podcast subreddit, Jocko fans were discussing this incident and it seems that they didn’t like Jocko’s no-mask socialization as well.
However, criticizing Jocko Willink on the internet is a sin for which you are punished by vague rationalizations by his fan base. Even on this post, there will be dozens of people trying to defend Jocko’s ideology and actions, simply because he is their idol. The fanboys quickly told the commenter that “Cowboy” has stated that he contracted the COVID-19 from a different social event. And without any skepticism, Jocko fans accepted this fact.
But let’s think about it for a second. Jocko basically gave ~$33,000 to this man’s family and an insane amount of exposure through the podcast, so it would’ve been just horrible to ruin Jocko’s perfect reputation by stating that he was the reason Cowboy contracted the virus.
It just makes sense that “Cowboy” wouldn’t want Jocko’s brand to be hampered, after all, Jocko helped him out financially and emotionally.
The truth is harsh, but we shouldn’t be oblivious to it. Jocko isn’t perfect and he has a lot of skeletons in his closet. I and many other people have suffered because of this dogma and I only want to help in sorting out this issue.
Jocko Supports The Iraq War
There have been conflicting opinions on the Iraq war and the participation of the United States in it. The citizens of the US were not happy with the decision and they have their reasons for it.
In a podcast with the Zen atheist Sam Harris himself, Jocko shared opinions about the Iraq war. I would let you guys be the judge here and decide for yourselves. I’m only highlighting it because this is something that Jocko’s fan base is not really aware of while it is an important piece of information. Here’s the snippet:
I don’t think my opinion matters in this case as it is quite a sensitive subject to talk about. So I apologize for not sharing an opinion on it, I hope you understand.
The Jocko Willink David Goggins Conflict
This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions:
“Why doesn’t Jocko bring David to his podcast?”
And the simple answer is: They don’t agree with each other ideology.
This is funny because both of their fanbases overlap a lot, especially when it comes to the 20 somethings. Jocko has actually talked about David a number of times, but people still speculate whether David & Jocko hate each other or something. So here’s the whole ordeal:
In 2019, when asked whether he is “ok with David Goggins”, Jocko used a doublespeak maneuver and said, “Yeah, He’s a great athlete.”
Do you notice what’s wrong with Jocko’s statement? I’ll give you a few seconds to figure it out.
Bam, time out. Here’s what’s goign on.
Jocko didn’t address David as a vet or an ex-military guy, instead, he mentioned him as a “great athlete”. He has never addressed David as a SEAL and it is simply because he does not respect David Goggins for any of his military service. He always addresses him as an athlete or a beast. Here’s another instance where he mentioned Goggins:
Don’t get me wrong. He does not hate David at all, he just doesn’t like the way Goggins handled himself during his military service.
While David is all about PT and “callusing his mind”, Jocko is about teamwork. Both of which are polar opposites in the context of a SEAL team. There has also been a lot of controversy about David abusing his title of being a SEAL to get into races, but that’s for another day.
It is not about BUD/S
Many people think that Jocko avoids Goggins because of his exaggeration of BUD/S, but that might not be the case.
David went through BUD/S, three times in a row shortly after losing 100 lbs. in 90 days. So his body was already extremely fatigued and injured. Add the insanity of David’s treatment towards his physical self, and you get unnecessary injuries on top of unnecessary injuries. Whereas Jocko passed through BUD/S in his first attempt. So it is kind of unfair to compare their experiences at BUD/S. However, without explicit confirmation from Jocko, nothing can be said for sure.
Overall, we shouldn’t expect Jocko to bring David on his podcast anytime soon. I do think that Jocko will happily invite David when David starts promoting his next book. Because after all, David has a much bigger fan base than Jocko Willink, Goggins’ Joe Rogan podcast has 5.7 million views, and as a capitalist businessman, he probably wouldn’t want to miss out on that opportunity.
Jocko Might Be A Closeted Trump Supporter
In an interview/podcast with Dave Rubin, Jocko was asked what he thinks about Donald Trump as a leader. Being the clever guy he is, Jocko answered the question in such a way that doesn’t put him in any spotlight from the right or the left. His answer was:
“From a leadership perspective, I think Trump is an interesting characteristic of some really broad extremes. So does things, that I say, ‘Good move’. And literally, 20 minutes later, I’ll be thinking to myself, ‘How can you even, think to yourself this is a decent thing to do?’ And by that I mean, jumping out on Twitter, and criticizing some individual human being or celebrity.”
At first glance, there seems to be nothing wrong with the statement. But the devil is in the details.
Jocko praises Trump as a good leader and his best criticism of Trump is for his derogatory tweets. Really Jocko? Do you think that’s the thing wrong with Trump? Not the leadership? Has he not taken any bad political decisions?
Every time Jocko mentions Trump, he praises him, and right after that, he says something bad about him to cancel out the whole statement. But he never criticizes Trump’s political statements or the actions he took as the President.
Here’s the interesting part, Jocko and Leif heavily criticize Obama’s actions in their book Extreme Ownership, but none of them ever even mention their honest thoughts on Trump’s presidency. Doesn’t that indicate something? Wouldn’t it be better if Jocko took some ownership of his political standings instead of evading questions? What do you guys think?
Jocko’s statements on Trump and Obama clearly reflect his bias towards Right-Wing ideas.
Another evidence of his right-wing pro ideology is the shows he goes on to.
He has appeared on The Ben Shapiro Show, Fox News, Sam Harris’ Podcast, and The Rubin Report. All of these mediums are either heavily right-wing or right-leaning. So it seems to me that Jocko Willink is a right-wing supporter.
It might be shocking for some people and obvious for others, but I think the evidence is pretty clear and we should accept it as a fact. Mr. Willink will never address this publicly because he wants to avoid backlash.
A few other people have also noticed the speech patterns and decipherd Willink’s vague statements. And they landed on the same conclusion. Just look at teh comments on this Jocko Willink Joe Rogan podcast clip:
It is obvious that he is a Republican MAGA guy. But he hides it from everyone with a pile of lies and word salad.
Jocko Willink Supplements Reviews & Opinions
Mr. Willink also has his own supplement line called “Jocko Fuel”. It includes supplements like protein powder, pre-workouts, post-workouts, and white tea. I’ve tried almost all the supplements which the guy sells cause I wanted to support Jocko and cause I’m an idiot.
The supplements are overpriced in my opinion, especially Molk (the protein powder), it does taste good but boy oh boy the price. There are better options for a protein powder available in the market which are used by professionals.
The one supplement which I still use today is Jocko White Tea. It is simply fabulous and it gives me energy for the day. My lifts have gone up and I feel better with a cup of white tea.
The Jocko Go drinks are overrated and there are way better options available in the market. Jocko spends a lot of money in promoting the drink probably because it is a high-margin high-yield product that can generate a lot of profit. You’ll see promotions of the Jocko Go a lot because of this reason.
I’m not the only one who isn’t a fan of Jocko’s Supplements. Here’s a Reddit thread about the same topic:
If you have tried any of Jocko’s products they definitely share your review. It’ll be interesting to see if a supplement works wonders for someone and horribly for another.
Jocko Willink Jeans & Apparel
I have mixed feelings about the apparel Jocko sells.
On one hand you have crazy good t-shirts like these:
And on another, you’ll look like a walking billboard:
I mean… who would actually “buy” a t-shirt which is just an ad for a supplement? Actually Jocko stans might wear that one.
I have bought the “Get After It” & “Jocko Willink Good” t-shirts. They are not bad surprisinlgy. It is good quality material for the price. Although the graphics or design is not out of the world, I think it is more about the feeling of being part of an exclusive group.
Jocko also sells jeans through his company Origin USA. Not the PC makers by the way.
The jeans are basically overpriced adn their main selling point is, “It is not made in China”.
Don’t waste your money on the jeans. It will take ages for you to receive the jeans and it has nothing special about it.
I recommend going for $150 jeans that you can buy from a good showroom. Those last longer and feel much more premium than Jocko Jeans.
This section seems out of place with the rest of the post but here’s why I added it:
I had experience with Jocko’s supplements and apparel, if my experience can help someone decide whether Jocko’s white tea is good for them or not, then it’s worth it. I wouldn’t have bought the Molk protein powder if I had known it was just overpriced protein powder with nothing special in it. H
Let The Flood Gates Open…
I hope this post helped you clarify somethings and misconception about Jocko Willink. I’m a big fan of the guy but he needs to be more vocal about the errors in his philosophy. People are going into depression and becoming nihilistic because of going cold-turkey, failing, and starting the cycle all over again until they quit all together.
There are much healthier ways to get better in life. Seek therapy, talk to your loved ones, meditate, avoid toxic people, read. Books like Atomic Habits By James Clear and Hyperfocus By Chris Bailey are excellent resources for people who are seeking to improve their lives.
Jocko also needs to stop trying to hide his obvious bias towards the right-wing. This is often very misleading for his followers and fans who are curious about his opinions on recent incidents. But in the end it is his personal business whether he wants to stop lying about his political standings or not.
I hope you understand the points I present in this piece and if you disagree, then please share your counter arguments and opinions. An open discussion about such topics is really important and I think talking about our disagreements and agreements will be a step forward.
Disclaimer (Please Read This Before Commenting)
I originally started this post to help my fellow Jocko fans see the actual downsides of Jocko’s philosophy, however I kept finding more facts and news to cover. It all ended up making this post much bigger than I expected it to become.
I shared the facts and opinions of Jocko Willink here because Jocko himself is extremely dodgy when it comes to politics. He avoids it at all costs. But I saw many people trying to find where Jocko stands on certain things. So I did the digging and got the answers.
Please refrain from name-calling or insults in the comments. I want this post to be a helpful resource for the “Get After It” community, not some random rant. But it is a free country, so all I can do is request politeness.
The Extreme Ownership method of Jocko Willink is ineffective in the long run for most people. It can lead to severe depression and toxicity among youngsters. Jocko doesn't wear masks or practice social distancing and his irresponsible behavior almost cost a 70-year-old vet, his life. He's also a closeted Trump supporter who evades important political queries with word salad and doublespeak. Overall, he is not the perfect guy I thought he was and you should be careful in following his advice.
- Genuinely wants to help people
- Amazing leader
- Entertaining Podcast
- Jocko White Tea is very effective
- Ineffective advice
- Doesn't wear masks
- Evades political questions while supports Trump & Iraq War
- Sells overpriced supplements