A master of discipline and leadership, retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink is a source of inspiration for all. Read a collection of motivational Jocko Willink quotes below.
Do you have a personal connection to the military?
John Gretton “Jocko” Willink is most well-known for co-authoring the New York Times bestselling books Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership. Willink received many awards throughout his military career, including the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star.
Willink now co-hosts a weekly podcast entitled The Jocko Podcast. During the podcast, Willink discusses a variety of different topics including leadership, self-control, and his experiences as a Navy SEAL with his co-host Echo Charles.
Read these Jocko Willink quotes to gain insights into his perspectives on leadership, success, wellness, and more.
We also have a collection of Chesty Puller quotes that will motivate you to push it to the limits. Be sure to also read that.
Powerful Jocko Willink quotes
1. “If you continue to keep low performers on your team, that are actually dragging the team down; you’re failing the whole team, and eventually, the whole team is going to fail.” – Jocko Willink
2. “Overconfidence was risky in such a hostile environment, a mistake most often made by warriors who had never truly been tested.” – Jocko Willink
3. “If I went back to my 20-year-old self, what I would tell my 20-year-old self is, ‘You don’t know anything.’ Because everyone, when they’re young, they think they know what’s going on in the world, and you don’t.” – Jocko Willink
4. “While discipline and freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected.” – Jocko Willink
5. “There are people in the world who have skills and strength and talent that I will never have. Never. These notions that you can ‘be whatever you want to be as long as you want it bad enough’ are not true. They are fairy tales.” – Jocko Willink
6. “A lot of times, people have something that they’re afraid of. They’ve got a client that’s mad at them. They’ve got a project that’s due. And they let that stress hang over their head. I don’t let that happen.” – Jocko Willink
7. “I’m always reading the next book. Taking notes. Highlighting, researching, studying. It doesn’t stop.” – Jocko Willink
8. “Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better.” – Jocko Willink
9. “All animals, including humans, need to see the connection between action and consequence in order to learn or react appropriately.” – Jocko Willink
10. “Getting out of bed is like the foundation of the discipline, and I think it carries over into everything else.” – Jocko Willink
11. “When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable — if there are no consequences — that poor performance becomes the new standard. Therefore, leaders must enforce standards.” – Jocko Willink
12. “Just do some kind of workout. Doesn’t matter if it’s going for a walk around the block, going for a jog, doing some calisthenics, lifting weights, going to a pool and swimming – you name it. But do something that gets your blood flowing and gets your mind in the game.” – Jocko Willink
13. “Jiu-Jitsu is probably the No. 1 activity that I could recommend to someone to improve their lives overall.” – Jocko Willink
14. “It is essential to develop a standardized planning process.” – Jocko Willink
Jocko Willink quotes about leadership
15. “Leading people is the most challenging and, therefore, the most gratifying undertaking of all human endeavors.” – Jocko Willink
16. “We learned that leadership requires belief in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory, particularly when doubters question whether victory is even possible.” – Jocko Willink
17. “The goal of all leaders should be to work themselves out of a job. When mentored and coached properly, the junior leader can eventually replace the senior leader, allowing the senior leader to move on to the next level of leadership.” – Jocko Willink
18. “One of the key qualities a leader must possess is the ability to detach from the chaos, mayhem, and emotions in a situation and make good, clear decisions based on what is actually happening.” – Jocko Willink
19. “A good leader does not get bogged down in the minutia of a tactical problem at the expense of strategic success.” – Jocko Willink
20. “A leader must lead, but also be ready to follow. They must be aggressive, but not overbearing. A leader must be calm, but not robotic. They must be confident but never cocky. A leader must be brave, but not foolhardy. They must have a competitive spirit, but be a gracious loser.” – Jocko Willink
21. “The temptation to take the easy road is always there. It is as easy as staying in bed in the morning and sleeping in. But discipline is paramount to ultimate success and victory for any leader and any team.” – Jocko Willink
22. “Put your leaders in stressful scenarios. Make them figure out solutions under pressure. See if you can make them frustrated, angry, and flustered, and then demand decisive leadership from them. They will be challenged at first, but they will get better over time.” – Jocko Willink
23. “Leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities, between one extreme and another.” – Jocko Willink
24. “Leadership is simple, but not easy.” – Jocko Willink
25. “When I was running training, we would fire a couple of leaders from every SEAL team because they couldn’t lead. And 99.9% of the time, it wasn’t a question of their ability – it was a question of their ability to listen.” – Jocko Willink
26. “The best leaders understand the motivations of their team members and know their people – their lives and their families. But a leader must never grow so close to subordinates that one member of the team becomes more important than another, or more important than the mission itself.” – Jocko Willink
27. “The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.” – Jocko Willink
28. “Staying ahead of the curve prevents a leader from being overwhelmed when pressure is applied and enables greater decisiveness.” – Jocko Willink
29. “Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done.” – Jocko Willink
30. “Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.” – Jocko Willink
31. “A good leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.” – Jocko Willink
Also check out these Thomas Paine quotes that will make you question your philosophy.
Jocko Willink quotes on discipline
32. “I would venture to guess that the biggest reason creative types don’t produce isn’t because they don’t have vision… or talent… in most cases, it’s a lack of discipline.” – Jocko Willink
33. “Don’t think in the morning. That’s a big mistake that people make. They wake up in the morning and they start thinking. Don’t think. Just execute the plan. The plan is the alarm clock goes off, you get up, you go work out. Get some.” – Jocko Willink
34. “The more you practice, the better you get, the more freedom you have to create.” – Jocko Willink
35. “If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.” – Jocko Willink
36. “That nice, soft pillow and the warm blanket, and it’s all comfortable, and no one wants to leave that comfort – but if you can wake up early in the morning, get a head start on everyone else that’s still sleeping, get productive time doing things that you need to do – that’s a huge piece to moving your life forward.” – Jocko Willink
37. “We all have a tendency to avoid our weaknesses. When we do that, we never progress or get any better.” – Jocko Willink
38. “There are people in the world who have skills and strength and talent that I will never have. Never. These notions that you can ‘be whatever you want to be as long as you want it bad enough’ are not true. They are fairy tales.” – Jocko Willink
Learn the secrets of success with these Alexander the Great quotes.
Jocko Willink quotes on military
39. “What makes you a SEAL, what makes you a SEAL is being a good tactician on the battlefield, understanding how to shoot, move, and communicate, knowing small unit maneuver warfare.” – Jocko Willink
40. “They didn’t have to jump for joy at the thought of fighting alongside Iraqi soldiers on a dangerous battlefield. But they did have to understand why they were doing it so that they could believe in the mission.” – Jocko Willink
41. “If frontline troops are unclear about the plan and yet are too intimidated to ask questions, the team’s ability to effectively execute the plan radically decreases.” – Jocko Willink
42. “Waking up early was the first example I noticed in the SEAL Teams in which discipline was really the difference between being good and being exceptional.” – Jocko Willink
43. “SEALs are human beings. We may all have the same haircuts, but we aren’t robots. Some SEALs are great people. Some are not great people. Some have done unspeakably terrible things. You’re dealing with different people, different dreams, different desires.” – Jocko Willink
Short inspirational Jocko Willink quotes
44. “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.” – Jocko Willink
45. “People do not follow robots.” – Jocko Willink
46. “It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.” – Jocko Willink
47. “Ego clouds and disrupts everything.” – Jocko Willink
48. “Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it.” – Jocko Willink
49. “Don’t fight stress. Embrace it. Turn it on itself. Use it to make yourself sharper and more alert. Use it to make you think and learn and get better and smarter and more effective. Use the stress to make you a better you.” – Jocko Willink
50. “Things won’t get better dwelling on the past. Accept what has happened. Then move forward.” – Jocko Willink
You might also like these CT Fletcher quotes to unleash your inner beast.
Insightful Jocko Willink quotes and sayings
51. “When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.” – Jocko Willink
52. “Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.” – Jocko Willink
53. “Once the wheels were in motion and the full resources of the team were engaged in that highest priority effort, I could then determine the next priority, focus the team’s efforts there, and then move on to the next priority.” – Jocko Willink
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of setting priority quotes that will help you identify what the most important things are to you.
54. “Go down swinging. And I’ll tell you: If you fight with all you have, more often than not, you won’t go down at all. You will win.” – Jocko Willink
55. “To implement real change, to drive people to accomplish something truly complex or difficult or dangerous — you can’t make people do these things. You have to lead them.” – Jocko Willink
56. “I know that somewhere out there, another man is also preparing. That man is the enemy.” – Jocko Willink
57. “Extreme Ownership is a mind-set, an attitude.” – Jocko Willink
58. “You’re not going to find happiness. You have to make it. So get out there and make some happiness.” – Jocko Willink
59. “There can be no leadership when there is no team.” – Jocko Willink
60. “If you don’t think you are disciplined: It is because you haven’t decided to be disciplined. Yet.” – Jocko Willink
Thought-provoking Jocko Willink quotes
61. “Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink
62. “Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind.” – Jocko Willink
63. “There is no growth in the comfort zone.” – Jocko Willink
64. “Cover and Move, Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command.” – Jocko Willink
65. “Leadership isn’t one person leading a team. It is a group of leaders working together, up and down the chain of command, to lead.” – Jocko Willink
66. “Instead of letting the situation dictate our decisions, we must dictate the situation.” – Jocko Willink
67. “Don’t ask your leader what you should do, tell them what you are going to do.” – Jocko Willink
68. “Good leaders are rare; bad leaders are common.” – Jocko Willink
69. “There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.” – Jocko Willink
70. “As leaders, we must not get dragged into the details but instead remain focused on the bigger picture.” – Jocko Willink
More Jocko Willink quotes
71. “Faster. Stronger. Smarter. More humble. Less ego.” – Jocko Willink
72. “Generally, when a leader struggles, the root cause behind the problem is that the leader has leaned too far in one direction and steered off course. Awareness.” – Jocko Willink
73. “So how can a leader become great if they lack the natural characteristics necessary to lead? The answer is simple: a good leader builds a great team that counterbalances their weaknesses.” – Jocko Willink
74. “Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom. When you have the discipline to get up early, you are rewarded with more free time.” – Jocko Willink
75. “Take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you.” – Jocko Willink
76. “The focus must always be on how to best accomplish the mission.” – Jocko Willink
77. “A leader must care about the troops, but at the same time the leader must complete the mission, and in doing so there will be risk and sometimes unavoidable consequences to the troops.” – Jocko Willink
78. “Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously.” – Jocko Willink
79. “Once people stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and take ownership of everything in their lives, they are compelled to take action to solve their problems.” – Jocko Willink
80. “It is critical for leaders to act decisively amid uncertainty; to make the best decisions they can be based on only the immediate information available.” – Jocko Willink
How disciplined are you?
Becoming more disciplined is a goal of many. A piece of advice that Jocko Willink gives above, is to wake up early. If you want to become a morning person, commit to a schedule. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same times every day. Schedule an alarm on your phone to ensure you’ll stick to it.
To help yourself wake up earlier, put activities into your routine that will make you excited about going to sleep. For example, treat yourself to an awesome breakfast or watch your favorite television show while you get dressed. With time, you may find that you’re more of an early riser than you thought.
What’s your favorite quote from Jocko Willink? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!
March 10, 2021 6:00 AM EST