- Former Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink retired from the SEALs in 2010 after 20 years of service.
- He created his own leadership consulting firm with former platoon leader Leif Babin.
- As a civilian, Willink continues “good habits” he learned as a SEAL, including waking up every day at 4:30 a.m. and having a strict workout plan.
When the day came for Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink to retire in 2010, he gave a speech, packed up his locker, put his gear in a van, and went home. After 20 years, he knew it was time to move on.
But he didn’t drop his military ways after retiring – he applied them to his everyday civilian life.
“I was definitely bummed. I mean, there’s no better job in the world,” Willink told Business Insider’s Rich Feloni for an episode of our podcast “Success! How I Did It.” “The hardest thing of all of it is knowing that the guys are going to continue. Guys are going on deployment, the guys are going to go back on the battlefield and you won’t be doing anything to help them.”
Entering civilian life, Willink kept some of his military habits. Willink wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every day (including weekends), sticks to a strict workout routine, and maintains a military mentality for everything he does. Willink credits his career success to Navy SEAL’s BUD/S training which led him to start a leadership consulting firm, Echelon Front, with a former platoon leader, Leif Babin. The two also co-wrote best selling books, not to mention Willink’s hit podcast.
“What we realised over time was, as we started talking to people in the civilian sector, they had problems with leadership,” Willink said about Babin and their firm. “And the things that we had learned on the battlefield and from training leaders in the SEAL teams were the solutions to the problems that they were having.”
Every corporate leader Willink spoke to about company challenges were issues Willink already experienced with a SEALs platoon.
“The good thing is not only did we know what the problems were, we knew what the solutions were, too. And so that’s why the business was able to grow so quickly,” Willink said.
This chapter was not something Willink planned for after retiring from the SEALs eight years ago. His original intention was to surf, do jiujitsu, work out, and have quality time with his wife and kids. But he’s on board with a change of plan.
“I guess the way my mind works or whatever, it’s, like, ‘OK, new mission is go do this,'” he said. “And so I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on what the past was and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I can’t change it. It’s happened. I can’t get it back. It’s gone. So I just focus on what I can do today.”
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