Lessons Learned From Jocko Live in DC: Decisive Engagement


Last week I had the pleasure of attending a talk given by Jocko Willink live in DC discussing the principles in his new book, Leadership Strategy and Tactics. The principles and strategies were in line with what he has discussed in the past, and have incredible value but what impressed me the most about this event was how Jocko was on stage….

Now everyone who is a fan of the podcast would know that Jocko studied Shakespear when he was in college. It was immediately apparent that this talk was not just a talk, it was a performance. For over an hour Jocko emotionally delivered readings, descriptive stories that placed you right in his shoes, and even made the crowd laugh with his terse sense of humor. Above all I was blown away by the preparation and emotional labor that must have went into preparing a performance like that one. 

With all that being said, here are some of the main takeaways from the evening from both myself and the team I went with. 

  • Humility is the most important trait of a leader. If you are not open to learning new ideas you are headed for trouble. 
  • There is a dichotomy to nearly everything. You need to have control over your facial expressions when it is appropriate to keep a “normal face”, and you need to reflect & diminish emotions other times when you need to show your peers you are on their side instead of always being stoic.
    • You want to be the boss’ go-to person so you have influence up the chain of command, but you also don’t want to be a “yes-man” who never challenges ideas.
  • When the leader shows that they care about their peers, it becomes contagious. When someone cares about you, you do not want to let them down. This leads to better self-regulation within the group. 
  • Think as a team – tactfully challenge your leaders plans, strategies, and actions. In leadership positions, welcome feedback.

And, of course, get after it.


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