Ismail Mechbal

Take ownership as a leader

29 November 2017

Being a leader is taking total responsibility for failure, specially in the most difficult situations, it takes a lot of humility and courage.

Tim Ferriss asked Jocko Willink the following question “How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?”

Jocko answered:

“During my second tour in Iraq, I was commander of SEAL Team Three, Task Unit Bruiser. We were deployed to the war-torn city of Ramadi, the epicenter of the insurgency at the time.

Only a few weeks into the deployment, we conducted a large operation in conjunction with U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. Marines, and friendly Iraqi Army soldiers.

There were multiple elements on the battlefield, all engaged in heavy enemy contact. In the fog of war, mistakes were made. Bad luck emerged. Things went wrong.

There ended up being a vicious firefight between one of my SEAL elements and a friendly Iraqi unit. An Iraqi soldier was killed and several others were wounded, including one of my SEALs.

It was a nightmare.

While there was plenty of blame to go around, and plenty of people who had made mistakes, I realized there was only one person to blame: me.

I was the commander.

I was the senior man on the battlefield, and I was responsible for everything that happened.


As a leader, there is no one else to blame.

Don’t make excuses.

If I don’t take ownership of problems, I can’t solve them.

That’s what a leader has to do: take ownership of the problems, the mistakes, and the shortfalls, and take ownership of creating and implementing solutions to get those problems solved.

Take ownership.”

Excerpt from “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferriss.

← Back to all articles