65 Powerful Jocko Willink Quotes on Leadership and Hard Work

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Jocko Willink is a retired Navy Seal and currently pursuing his career as an author.

He's admired and known for his extraordinary leadership qualities - which he teaches in his book.

His main message is all about taking the initiative and getting work done without making excuses.

We put together 65 iconic Jocko Willink quotes that will get you fired up and motivated:

#1:

“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

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#2:

“We all have a tendency to avoid our weaknesses. When we do that, we never progress or get any better.” – Jocko Willink

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#3:

“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

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#4:

“Staying ahead of the curve prevents a leader from being overwhelmed when pressure is applied and enables greater decisiveness.” – Jocko Willink

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#5:

“A good leader does not get bogged down in the minutia of a tactical problem at the expense of strategic success.” – Jocko Willink

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#6:

“There can be no leadership when there is no team.” – Jocko Willink

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#7:

“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

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#8:

“The more you practice, the better you get, the more freedom you have to create.” – Jocko Willink

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#9:

“I’m always reading the next book. Taking notes. Highlighting, researching, studying. It doesn’t stop.” – Jocko Willink

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#10:

“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

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#11:

“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

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#12:

“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

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#13:

“Leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities, between one extreme and another.” – Jocko Willink

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#14:

“Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.” – Jocko Willink

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#15:

“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

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#16:

“People do not follow robots.” – Jocko Willink

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#17:

“It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.” – Jocko Willink

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#18:

“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

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#19:

“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

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#20:

“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

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#21:

“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

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#22:

“A good leader has nothing to prove, but everything to prove.” – Jocko Willink

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#23:

“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

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#24:

“Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it.” – Jocko Willink

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#25:

“When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.” – Jocko Willink

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#26:

“You’re not going to find happiness. You have to make it. So get out there and make some happiness.” – Jocko Willink

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#27:

“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

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#28:

“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

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#29:

check out these Thomas Paine quotes that will make you question your philosophy.

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#30:

“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

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#31:

“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

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#32:

“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

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#33:

“Overconfidence was risky in such a hostile environment, a mistake most often made by warriors who had never truly been tested.” – Jocko Willink

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#34:

“It is essential to develop a standardized planning process.” – Jocko Willink

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#35:

“Everyone wants some magic pill—some life hack—that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.” – Jocko Willink

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#36:

“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

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#37:

“Getting out of bed is like the foundation of the discipline, and I think it carries over into everything else.” – Jocko Willink

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#38:

“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

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#39:

“Things won’t get better dwelling on the past. Accept what has happened. Then move forward.” – Jocko Willink

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#40:

“The leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.” – Jocko Willink

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#41:

“Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get it done.” – Jocko Willink

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#42:

“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

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#43:

“Jiu-Jitsu is probably the No. 1 activity that I could recommend to someone to improve their lives overall.” – Jocko Willink

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#44:

“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

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#45:

“Leadership is simple, but not easy.” – Jocko Willink

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#46:

“Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better.” – Jocko Willink

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#47:

“I know that somewhere out there, another man is also preparing. That man is the enemy.” – Jocko Willink

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#48:

“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

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#49:

“Ego clouds and disrupts everything.” – Jocko Willink

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#50:

“Extreme Ownership is a mind-set, an attitude.” – Jocko Willink

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#51:

n the secrets of success with these Alexander the Great quotes.

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#52:

“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

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#53:

“Leading people is the most challenging and, therefore, the most gratifying undertaking of all human endeavors.” – Jocko Willink

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#54:

“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

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#55:

“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

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#56:

“If you don’t think you are disciplined: It is because you haven’t decided to be disciplined. Yet.” – Jocko Willink

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#57:

“All animals, including humans, need to see the connection between action and consequence in order to learn or react appropriately.” – Jocko Willink

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#59:

“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

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#60:

“While discipline and freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected.” – Jocko Willink

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#61:

“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

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#62:

“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

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#63:

“If you allow the status quo to persist, you can’t expect to improve performance, and you can’t expect to win.” – Jocko Willink

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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