Books and how they change our lives: Freedom in Resonsibility

Have you ever read something that at the same time greatly burdened you and freed you?

For me, that was reading the first chapter of the book, Extreme Ownership.

Written by two Navy SEALs, this book is chock-full of practical leadership insights from both the battlefield in the Middle East and in corporate America.

Here’s the bottom line of the first chapter and the definition of Extreme Ownership: “On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world.”

Those two sentences are heavy with responsibility because they squarely put the weight of all areas of your life on me and on you.

Those two sentences are freeing because they empower me and you to work, change, and make better all the things God has called us to lead (including ourselves).

The authors illustrate this idea with a story from BUD/S (SEAL training camp)—here’s the short of it:

There were six teams of seven men in boats who were racing from the beach to a designated area and then back to the beach. Team II consistently finished first and Team VI consistently finished last. Team II worked as a team, whereas Team VI worked as individuals.

The leader from Team VI, the last place boat, complained that his team was terrible and that their performance was not his fault. SEAL instructors, eager to teach a lesson, swapped the team leaders for Teams II and VI.

To everyone’s amazement—except the SEAL instructors—Team VI and it’s new leader barely squeaked out a victory with Team II and their new leader coming in second.

“How is it possible that switching a single individual—only the leader—had completely turned around the performance of an entire group? The answer: leadership is the single greatest factor in any team’s performance. Whether a team succeeds or fails is all up to the leader. The leader’s attitude sets the tone for the entire team.”


Though we’ve all experienced this in our own ways, we seldom apply this principle to the things we lead.

Yes, there are things in my life that I can look back on that have failed due to my insufficient leadership, but by God’s grace I plan on taking Extreme Ownership (extreme responsibility) over all the areas God has entrusted to me: faith, family, friends, fitness, and finances. I will lead to the best of my ability.

What book has changed your life?