The United States Navy SEALs are widely regarded as the most elite special forces unit in the world. The training required to become a SEAL is astonishing. It’s a grueling process that weeds out any candidate that doesn’t show exemplary physical and mental toughness. There’s a reason they are tasked with the highest profile assignments, like the 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound.
Over the years I have met several current and former Navy SEALs and have always been impressed. Which is why I have been listening to a podcast by a former Navy SEAL for a while.
His name is Jocko Willink and his podcast focus on discipline and leadership in business and everyday life. It highlights money of the lessons he shares in his hit book, Extreme Ownership. The book is a worthwhile investment, but you can listen to it for FREE with an audiobook trial which is well worth it. Believe me.
Today I want to share some of Jocko Willink’s lessons and how you can use them to take your financial life to the next level. Even if you only put half of them to practice, you’ll be glad you did.
Jocko Willink: Leadership Is Everything
A lot of people think that leadership is a trait that is useful on a football field, the battlefield, or during a corporate board meeting. The honest truth is that the most important place anyone can ever be a leader is within their own home. Even if they live alone and don’t have a family yet, there is an opportunity to lead.
The thing about leadership is that it’s super easy to tell how effective it is by looking at the results.
Let’s say that you have set an ambitious goal for your family to pay off all of your debt over the next 3 years. Are you leading your household in a way to get everyone on the same page to work together to achieve it?
Are you putting yourself in the best position to succeed?
Winning Requires Extreme Ownership
If nothing else, the Jocko Podcast makes clear that without taking ownership, you won’t live to your full potential.
The brutal truth is that very few people will actually practice extreme ownership because it means taking complete responsibility for yourself and your future.
It’s easy to take responsibility in light of success, but true leaders also take responsibility when they fall short. No blaming others or making excuses for why you aren’t living your dream life.
The more time you spend worrying about what other people are doing and comparing yourself to them, the less time you are focusing on yourself and what you can (and should) be doing to make your goals a reality.
So if you are sick of paying crazy interest rates on your student loans, then do something about it and refinance them. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
The same goes if you have a children but no life insurance. If you really want to protect them you need to do something about it. Get a free life insurance quote and start taking care of your loved ones.
This means that if you and your fiancé created a budget but never actually stuck to it, don’t blame them. Figure out what you could have done to support them or to get them on the same page. Maybe you did something that inadvertently confused or discouraged them.
You’ll never know if you spend all of your time blaming others instead of taking ownership.
If You Want To Achieve, You Must Believe
Jocko Willink says that if you don’t believe in yourself or the mission you are working toward, you’ll never take the risks necessary to succeed.
When it comes to personal finance, you’ll definitely need to make sacrifices in order to build a brighter future. This might mean staying late in the office to get a promotion, or skipping bar nights in order to pay off your student loans faster.
But if you don’t believe that you’re capable of achieving those things, you will come up with a million reasons why it’s not possible and you’ll never do it.
Once you have the confidence to keep pushing, your behaviors will turn into habits, which will become automatic and that is how you become disciplined.
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you really believe in yourself and take a chance to achieve something incredible? Even if you don’t meet your goals right away, you’ll at least be more happy since you have more confidence and self esteem.
Jocko Willink: Check Your Ego At The Door
When it comes to planning or executing a plan, having a large ego will only hold you back. Ego disrupts EVERYTHING. Relationships, teamwork, trust, respect, you name it.
Be willing to accept feedback and criticism from others and embrace personal growth. It could make all the difference if you are focused on reaching your dreams.
Never confuse feedback for criticism. At the same time, you should be kind to yourself.
Just because you aren’t wealthy right now doesn’t mean that you don’t matter or that you aren’t enough as a person. Your financial situation is just one aspect of your life. You need to show yourself love and respect before you can give it out to other people.
What are you doing today to show yourself some love? Jocko Willink does it by exercising and keeping his mind and body sharp. You might do it by taking dance lessons, cooking a new recipe, or writing in your journal on a regular basis.
Prioritization Is Everything
Jocko Willink exemplified focus. He was a successful SEAL because he always knew what the most important task that needed to be done was and he didn’t waste time.
With our phones constantly in front of our faces, there are constant distractions and people pulling us in different directions. This makes prioritization more important than ever.
This means that you need to develop a system to prioritize the things that are most important to you.
For example, if your goal is to contribute $400 per month to your IRA, then try to automate the process by making automatic transfers from your bank account to your IRA. Or set regular reminders so you don’t forget.
It’s also critical to surround yourself with other people who will support you and lift you up. If you are trying to save money to aggressively save for your first house, then spending all of your free time with people who seem to like spending money more than anything else in the world might not be the best idea.
The last thing you need when focusing on your money is to become the victim of lifestyle creep.
Francisco Maldonado, MD is a personal finance expert who was raised in poverty by a single mother and had to learn everything about personal finance on his own. In addition to running The Finance Twins with his twin brother, he’s been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, US News, The Simple Dollar, and other top publications. Francisco is a physician who borrowed over $200,000 to pay for his medical training and understands debt payoff strategies and frugal living. He received his M.D. from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, the most selective medical school in the country, and a Bachelor’s degree in physiology from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a radiology resident at Northwestern University.