77+ Best Jocko Willink Quotes: Exclusive Selection

John Gretton “Jocko” Willink is an American retired naval officer who served in the Navy SEALs. He is also a podcaster and author. Profoundly inspirational Jocko Willink quotes will get you through anything when the going gets tough and help you succeed in every aspect of life.

If you’re searching for quotes by famous authors that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of amazing Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes, famous Louisa May Alcott quotes and greatest Malcolm Gladwell quotes.

Famous Jocko Willink Quotes

If you try and work out at 4:30 in the afternoon, how many people are going to chip away at that time? Your boss, your job, your work, your family, your other obligations that you might have. At 4:30 in the morning, all those people are asleep, so you can do whatever you want. — Jocko Willink

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

If I’ve got something do. I’m going to attack it. I’m going to attack that stress. — Jocko Willink

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

It’s really hard to guarantee things in life. I guarantee if you get up in the morning and you work out, and you work hard, you will have a better day – 100% guaranteed. — Jocko Willink

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in combat. — Jocko Willink

One of the best mental disciplines for people to implement is simply putting together a schedule or a task list and actually executing it. Write the list or the schedule the night before, and then do what you said you would do. Life becomes much better when you do that. — Jocko Willink

If you’re going to wake up early all the time, and you’re working hard, and you’re working out, sometimes you’re going to get tired. It’s OK. It’s acceptable – somewhat. We’re all human, unfortunately. — Jocko Willink

We record when I have a hole in the schedule. Sometimes night, sometimes afternoon, sometimes morning – we fit it in when we can. I prep for episodes all the time. — Jocko Willink

If you have to stand and fight, you train yourself so that you’re able to do it. — Jocko Willink

When individual members of the team are highly disciplined, they can be trusted and, therefore, allowed to operate with very little oversight. — Jocko Willink

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

One of my direct subordinates, one of my guys that worked for me, he would call me up or pull me aside with some major problem, some issue that was going on. And he’d say, ‘Boss, we’ve got this, and that, and the other thing.’ And I’d look at him and I’d say, ‘Good.’ — Jocko Willink

It’s not fun to get out of bed early in the morning. When the alarm goes off, it doesn’t sing you a song: it hits you in the head with a baseball bat. So how do you respond to that? Do you crawl underneath your covers and hide? Or do you get up, get aggressive, and attack the day? — Jocko Willink

Who wants to leave the door open to being dominated physically by another human being? Jiu Jitsu gives you the ability to not be dominated by that person, and to me, that’s real peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about that when I’m walking around in the world. — Jocko Willink

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

The goal of jiu-jitsu in self-defense isn’t to take someone down to the ground – the goal in jiu-jitsu for self-defense is actually to be able to defend yourself on the ground, get up, and get away from an attacker. That’s what the goal is. — Jocko Willink

Your success, or lack of success, is your responsibility. Even when you have a chain of command that you don’t like as well, its your responsibility to work with the up chain of command. — Jocko Willink

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

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

If I’m going to get you to do stuff, I need to lead you. I can’t just order you to do it. — Jocko Willink

I did 20 years in the Navy. I joined the Navy right out of high school and went through Navy boot camp, went to SEAL training, got done with that, and then showed up at a SEAL team, where I did 20 years. That was pretty much my whole adult life. — Jocko Willink

When a team takes ownership of its problems, the problem gets solved. It is true on the battlefield, it is true in business, and it is true in life. — Jocko Willink

I don’t pick up toys. I crush them. — Jocko Willink

The moment the alarm goes off is the first test; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. The test is not a complex one: when the alarm goes off, do you get up out of bed, or do you lie there in comfort and fall back to sleep? If you have the discipline to get out of bed, you win – you pass the test. — Jocko Willink

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

We have food all around us all the time, and if we haven’t eaten for three hours, we think we’re starving. You’re not starving – human beings can go for 30 days without food. — Jocko Willink

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

When things are going bad, don’t get all bummed out. Don’t get startled; don’t get frustrated. If you can say the word ‘good,’ guess what? It means you’re still alive. It means you’re still breathing. — Jocko Willink

When I checked into SEAL Team One many years ago, one of the things that I noticed was there was this old guy, who was younger than I am today, who I decided that I was going to be like. I wanted to emulate what he was doing, and one of those things was he got to work before anybody else. — Jocko Willink

Anybody who tells you that a two-day conference, you’re going to turn into the General Patton of leadership, they’re not telling you the truth. But you can learn the fundamentals; you can absolutely understand the fundamentals. — Jocko Willink

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

There are a lot of inaccuracies out there when it comes to the SEAL training process. You will see guys carrying logs around on television. They think that the hardest part about being on a SEAL team is getting through that training. The fact of the matter is, if you have a good attitude, that training is fun. I had a blast. — Jocko Willink

Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle. We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be. — Jocko Willink

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

We named the book ‘Extreme Ownership’ because we really found that when we looked at not only at leaders but at teams that were the most successful, we found that the ones that had this attitude of extreme ownership were the ones that did the best, and it’s definitely an attitude that I had. — Jocko Willink

Don’t worry about motivation. Motivation is fickle. It comes and goes. It is unreliable – and when you are counting on motivation to get your goals accomplished, you will likely fall short. — Jocko Willink

Since the team understands that the leader is de facto in charge, in that respect, a leader has nothing to prove. But in another respect, a leader has everything to prove: Every member of the team must develop the trust and confidence that their leader will exercise good judgment, remain calm, and make the right decisions when it matters most. — Jocko Willink

I would say there are some foods that I strongly recommend that you do not eat. No. 1 on that list, I believe, is doughnuts. Comfort food. Zero value. Don’t eat them. — Jocko Willink

If it’s stress of things that we cannot control, what you have to do is you mitigate that stress as much as possible. You’ve planned, you’ve trained, you’ve done everything you can in your power to mitigate the stress that’s facing you. And then after that, there’s nothing you can do. So, you have to let that one go. — Jocko Willink

I eat steak primarily. That’s pretty much what my diet consists of. Sometimes I supplement that with other steaks. — Jocko Willink

We all have limitations. I don’t have the right genes to be an Olympic weightlifter. I don’t have the right genetics to be an Olympic sprinter. Or gymnast. Sure, if I trained my whole life, perhaps I could have become fairly decent in those sports. — Jocko Willink

What makes you a SEAL, what makes you a SEAL is being a good tactician on the battle field, understanding how to shoot, move, and communicate, knowing small unit maneuver warfare. That’s what makes a good SEAL, and so that is the course of instruction that I taught, was getting SEAL platoons ready for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. — Jocko Willink

Just as discipline and freedom are opposing forces that must be balanced, leadership requires finding the equilibrium in the dichotomy of many seemingly contradictory qualities between one extreme and another. — Jocko Willink

Freedom is what everyone wants – to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline. — Jocko Willink

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

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

If all you’re doing is grinding for the man, it’s going to burden you. Once you say, ‘Hey, I’m grinding for the man, but I’m putting money away, and this is part of my exit strategy,’ you’re working for you. — Jocko Willink

There is one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, and that is discipline. Because your dreams and your goals are not there waking up for you in the morning. — Jocko Willink

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

I did my utmost to ensure that everyone below me in the chain of command felt comfortable approaching me with concerns, ideas, thoughts, and even disagreements. — Jocko Willink

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

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

Being a kid’s not easy. You’re transforming and becoming a human being. At some point, you have everyone taking care of you, and then, all of a sudden, you’re out in the world. — Jocko Willink

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

I’m not a complete psychopath. Am I partially? Sure. I’ll accept that. But I’m not a complete psychopath. — Jocko Willink

Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better. — Jocko Willink

The thing about Jiu Jitsu is it is also not for everybody. It can be very humiliating and humbling. If you have a hard time dealing with the fact that someone smaller than you may be able to tap you out, it is going to be difficult. — Jocko Willink

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

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

It’s a lose-lose situation to get in a confrontation on the street. If you can break contact and get away, break contact and get away. That’s what you should learn self-defense for. — Jocko Willink

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

The more you practice, the better you get, the more freedom you have to create. — Jocko Willink

Some people, they take their form of working out as a religion that they think is better than everyone else’s. I’m not like that. If you have a better way to work out, and you can teach it to me, and I find it to be useful and gets me in better shape, I’m all about. — Jocko Willink

Perseverance is also key to success in any endeavor, but without perseverance in combat, there can be no victory. — Jocko Willink

Jiu Jitsu is a great workout both mentally and physically. You want to be strong for it and flexible for it. — Jocko Willink

If you get your ego in your way, you will only look to other people and circumstances to blame. — Jocko Willink

Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning. I say ‘first alarm clock’ because I have three, as I was taught by one of the most feared and respected instructors in SEAL training: one electric, one battery powered, one windup. — Jocko Willink

Do I have chocolate chip cookies? Yes, I do. Do I have mint chocolate chip milkshakes? Yes, I do. I love them. They are fantastic. But when I have them, they’re worth it. I earned them. I did something. I worked out super hard. I stayed clean on food. — Jocko Willink

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

Just on a practical side, if you wake up early in the morning – like at 4:30 in the morning – you’re going to have some free time to yourself to make things happen, to take care of things that are important to you. — Jocko Willink

If I’ve got a problem with one of my clients that needs to get solved, guess what I’m going to do? I’m going to call them up, and I’m going to say, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on. This is the situation. This thing went sideways. I didn’t expect it. Now it’s going to take me some more time to get you what you need.’ But I’m going to do that upfront. — Jocko Willink

If someone attacks me, and they want to punch or kick me, I can just run away. They’re not holding onto me. I can get away from them. — Jocko Willink

With Benghazi, I don’t see anyone saying, ‘Hey look, I am overall responsible for this and therefore, I take responsibility for what happened. It’s my fault.’ I haven’t heard that yet. Meanwhile, the other side of the coin, the Osama bin Laden raid, it seems everyone made that decision, and that’s just unbelievable to me. — Jocko Willink

Every day is a major balancing act that I have to figure out and coordinate. — Jocko Willink

Leadership is hard. It’s a skill. It’s a technique. — Jocko Willink

Why do you want to get a good workout early in the morning? Well, because it sends more oxygen to your brain; it releases endorphins. It puts you in a state of mind where you can crush things, which is where you want to be. — Jocko Willink

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