What is it that you think you need to get to be considered a success? The latest and greatest iPhone? A new car to get to the office to impress your co-workers? Is there something that you don't have that you think is the key to solving all your problems?

Here's a plot twist: It is, in fact, the problems you have right now that arethe keys to your future success.

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL, martial artist, and successful entrepreneur. Above all else, he wants you to own your problems in order to succeed.

In a 2017 TED Talk at the University of Nevada (see video at the end of this article), Willink detailed a remarkable anecdote from his time during the Iraq War. Willink recalls a horrendous firefight that broke out. Tragically, through human error and bad luck, the firefight was solely between friendly forces, without enemy involvement. Fratricide. After many were wounded, what Willink did afterward was indicative of his ability to be a leader and living legend.

Willink analyzed the situation, and then he did something wildly surprising. For his debrief, he initially planned to point out every failure and mistake in the planning, preparation, and execution of the operation. He at first was even tempted to point out who was responsible for the failure. "There were so many people I could incriminate with guilt," he stated, but ultimately, he realized there was only one person to blame--himself.

Willink's decision to take the blame was a turning point during his time as a commander. Because he decided to own his problems and mistakes, he did not get fired. In fact, when Willink took ownership, his commanding officer and his men trusted him more, and they respected him because they realized he would never shirk responsibility.

Willink's decision to take ownership affected the actions and mindset of the rest of his team, leading to their historic success. As a commander who owned his problems and mistakes, Willink led one of the most decorated special-operations units in the Iraq War.

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

Published on: Sep 18, 2017