Jocko Willink on Forward Progress Through Discipline

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Although he spent 20 years rising through the ranks of the U.S. Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink says toughness isn’t just about mental or physical strength. After translating his leadership lessons from the battlefield to the boardroom, he launched Echelon Front, a business and leadership strategy company where he is a leadership instructor, speaker and executive coach. SUCCESS Editor-in-Chief Josh Ellis discovers the three fundamental principles of tough leadership, the power of humility, and why motivation is fleeting and shouldn’t be trusted to propel you forward.

This interview appears on the SUCCESS Talks Collection, available in the April 2017 edition of SUCCESS magazine.


  • Learn what motivated Willink to join the military and how that experience shaped him into the leader he is today.
  • A solid mentor can change your life. Who do you look up to?
  • Problem-solving isn’t one-size-fits all. But you can learn to attack your problems in a logical manner that allows for efficiency and prioritization.
  • Self-discipline is the key to taking control of your day, and ultimately, your life. Are you in control?
  • Willink says leadership is about understanding people’s individual personalities. Nothing is more important than realizing the unique talents and skills that your individual team members bring to the table.
  • Plus, hear what books keep Willink motivated and pushing for more every day.

Favorite quote from this episode:

“If your alarm clock goes off at 4:30 a.m. and you immediately give up and surrender to the snooze button, well, what’s the rest of the day gonna look like? If you have the discipline when that alarm goes off you get up, you get in the gym, you do something physical, you’re setting the tone, you’re holding the line, and that discipline is gonna maintain.”

—Jocko Willink

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