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How To Be Aggressive When It's NOT Natural - Jocko Willink



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chuckle Herr general mattis say that he looks for initiative and aggressiveness

in NCOs I'm not a naturally aggressive leader

do you believe leader should be aggressive by nature when when to be

aggressive or when do you be aggressive does it come off as fake if not if it's

not natural so you know obviously this is something we talk about all the time

is that thief being default aggressive is good for leaders yes that is a true

statement there's a dichotomy obviously because you can be too aggressive and

then things go wrong and things go bad and things don't work and yes there are

some people that are let's say more aggressive by nature and then lest also

let's also remember that being aggressive means a lot more than just

being loud brash and in-your-face right that is the stereotypical thing that we

think of when we think of all that guys really aggressive you think this guy's

in-your-face she's yelling he's you know pushing people over that is not the type

of aggressiveness that you need to be an effective leader you don't need to be a

loudmouth you don't need to be brash you don't need to get in people's faces

what being aggressive means is is taking action that's the kind of aggressiveness

that I'm talking about that's the kind of aggressive that general mattis is

talking about and you know the definition actually wrote this down the

definition of of aggressive or one of the - definitions of being aggressive is

forceful and sometimes overly assertive pursuit of one's aims so first of all

forceful we get right sometimes overly assertive some means sometimes that you

have to go a little bit like harder and here's why that's important because

listen in combat almost nothing will happen the way you

want it to if you don't force it that way right you are coming against a

powerful force the enemy nature time there's all kinds of things that that

are going against you it's a losing battle and if you don't use force of

will then then then you're not gonna get it done you have to be aggressive and

make things happen I remember us so there was a there was we all got

interviewed after we came home from Ramadi and I remember I was listening to

Seth stone get interviewed and it was just they were just trying to you know

capture whatever information moments historical accounts of what had happened

in Ramadi and and Seth said something along the lines of every operation we

did you could feel jaakko beating his head against the wall to make things

happen and I got you know of course I laughed

but from his perspective and it's a good perspective and it's an accurate

perspective none of this nothing just kind of oh that fell into my lap that

just doesn't happen it doesn't happen in combat it just doesn't happen in combat

and so yes this idea that you're gonna be aggressive is is is very important

but if you think to yourself well okay okay look I'm not the type of person

that likes to be a loudmouth likes to shout likes to yell cool good it doesn't

matter you don't need to be that way what it means is is you need to make

things happen that's what it means and it can be this is the good thing about

being aggressive sure there's there's certain parts of your nature that are

aggressive but it can also be trained you can you can start to think with an

aggressive mindset which is I am going to take action I'm gonna overcome

obstacles I'm gonna push through roadblocks I'm not gonna take no for an

answer and those are things that you can train and and and how do you train them

look when you when you hit an obstacle you look at it you you know you shake

your head and you go cool let's go let's figure this out there's so often times

where people they get told no or they hit an obstacle in it's game over for

they're just done they're done training they're over it and your attitude you

have to go okay little little robot cool how am I gonna get through it how many

and I used to put people so to train people to be more aggressive regardless

of what their pretend believe me I had I had guys you know steel officers that

were coming through that or sealed Chiefs that were coming through real

real passive guys quiet guys you know not in type of person that you would

figure oh that guy's oh yeah that guy's aggressive you wouldn't characterize him

as that but I would so what I would do is put them in situations where if they

didn't make aggressive decisions to make things happen they were gonna get

annihilated put them in training scenarios like that okay oh you want to

sit here and you want to wait like you're getting attacked and you want to

sit here and you wonder way you don't make it one don't want to make a

decision cool in in 16 minutes I will have everyone in your task unit dead we

will kill them all the paintball if you end it and so they learn that and

I go what do you think happened you know and they'd say oh we started to get

surrounded and and I go and what did you do well you know we we held position

okay how how long do you hold position for we held it for a while and one of

the enemy do well they started to maneuver and then what you do

well we held position and then what the enemy do well they maneuvered more and

then what you do I held position and we started taking casualties and then the

enemy maneuvered and then they closed the distance and then they took us out

okay what do you think would have been better well perhaps when it first

started before they had us enveloped I could have made a maneuver to get to

another building with some more high ground that sounds like a great idea

next time why don't you be a little bit more aggressive in making things happen

okay put him in the same scenario they get a little bit more aggressive they

realize that it's that it it serves its function and they start to develop the

attitude they start to understand what a lack of aggression will get you because

that's an important thing to know right it's not just a carrot it's the stick

cool if I do if I do this aggressive thing it'll be rewarding if I don't do

something aggressive we're gonna get annihilated so here's the other thing

that you got to be ready for so if you're if you're a person that you lean

towards being passive you've got to start to lean towards being aggressive

and here's the thing that you got to remember you're gonna make mistakes

because when you're aggressive you're taking more risk and often you're taking

more risk now when you if you've played out the whole matrix of being passive

birth versus being aggressive I will tell you

being aggressive is the one that ends up on top are there but there are scenarios

where your aggressiveness ends up costing you a little bit that absolutely

happens it happens in business it happens in life it happens on the

battlefield but overall being aggressive is what this is why this is why that

this is where the idea of you this is where the idea of aggressive has to be

your default mode this is exactly why aggression has to be your default mode

your default mode is aggressive if your default mode is aggressive and it's not

the right answer you just used to use the other answer right

your default mode is aggressive that's why I originally said to these young

seal officers your default mode has to be aggressive so if you're not sure if

you should stay as you go go to the default which is going to be aggressive

because nine times out of ten seven times out of ten eight times out of ten

that's gonna be a better move than sitting on your ass and doing nothing

that's what's gonna get you killed so your default mode is to go now do you

always go with your default mode no no you don't always go with it to the

default mode but occasionally you go oh you know what I'm not gonna go to the

default mode you put it you pull the setting out and even go into the other

mode customize it customize a little bit for that particular situation but your

default mode is I'm gonna be aggressive and that's the the odds you want the

odds you want to stack the odds in your favor hmm what is it Jason Jason Gardner

says puts it kind of a cool like good way to just really wrap your head around

like being it default mode something along the lines of like it's easier it's

better to like have to pull someone back totally then have to push him forward

yes it's a million times easier to have to pull the reins in on someone on an

element on a team on a leader on a person it's it's a million times easier

to go I I hey hey come on back going too hard it then going hey you need to get

out there yeah because by the way I mean if you think about this from like an

actual event unfolding if an event unfolds and you're the person that's on

point and you don't react to it properly that that event needs to make it through

you to me before I can now assess what I

think you should do and then tell you to go do it and then kick you in the ass

there you go do it I don't want that we already lost yeah I want I want you to

go hey oh we just got this event started unfolding I'm on it and you look back at

me hey Jocko I'm solving this problem right now

Oh what's the problem right I don't even know what the problem is yet you already

solving it that's what I want and if I happen to occasionally have to pull the

reins on you I'm more than happy to pull the reins on you what so yes that's a

universal it's easier to lead someone that you have to pull the reins on then

you have to push we'd rather pull back then push forward and that that idea of

being aggressive is as part of that so I want all my I want on all my subordinate

leaders to be aggressive and as a leader I know that my supporters are going to

make mistakes while they're learning to be aggressive and even when they're

being aggressive and I'm therefore considered fully trained and fully ready

they're still gonna make mistakes I'm still gonna make mistakes being

aggressive I'm gonna make mistakes but we're gonna play the odds and the odds

are the odds are you be aggressive I'm trying to think of a good blackjack you

know be you ever play blackjack before either yeah so I mean like there's you

know dealers showing uh whatever do you do is showing twenty and you're showing

a fourteen you got to hit it like that that's the odds the odds are you got to

hit it mm-hmm dealer's showing a fourteen and you're showing a fourteen

you gotta let the you gotta you gotta hold let the dealer let the dealer take

the hit do they call it I forget what do they call it showing

twenty cuz you know one is down one is up yeah right do they call that showing

twenty have a tanner yeah yeah because you don't know what the other card is

you just assumed I'd you assume that it's a so you showing okay yeah and I

haven't played blackjack in a while I can't I can't believe I'm like

struggling with my thought process around blackjack around the numbers it

was more of a terminology yeah but you play the odds

yeah and there's a rules when you're playing the odds in blackjack there's

rules of yeah what you hit and what you don't and you stick with the rules the

odds are gonna be in your side yeah yeah more than if you don't if you just

sit back and that's and so we're playing the odds

we're playing the odds with leadership yeah and the odds are you default mode

it's not that you never come out of default mode the odds are you be

aggressive so back to this question here listen to

another couple things in this question when to be aggressive look the default

mode is be aggressive and sometimes you look at it you'll know now's not the

time does it come off as fake or not natural hey it's not being aggressive

from this perspective isn't how you're acting it's the decisions that you're

making it's the decision I was working with a

client yesterday and we were talking about data I think it was a client call

it was another yeah it was about data and it was actually the very similar

question hey um I'm not very aggressive and I'm more of a data guy and I like

numbers and that's how I roll and yet I'm not getting recognized and I was

like cool get aggressive with your data put your data together and present it up

the chain of command not to say hey look at me but to say hey here's what's going

on here's what I'm doing you're being aggressive with your data you're showing

them what's happening cuz the guy wasn't getting the recognition that he needed

right any what so that meant his senior leadership didn't know what he was doing

which meant he's not getting the resources that he needs to do his job

and instead of being like hey this is what I need cuz he's not an aggressive

guy he's sitting back and just getting resources stripped away from him I said

cool you're a data guy record the data of what you're doing

present it and the dad let the data speak get default aggressive with your

data did I miss anything here yeah so it's not natural yeah I mean I mean if

you all of a sudden start to try and act yeah you know this this new way yeah

it's it's it's probably not gonna go good now can you do you sometimes have

to learn like okay you know what I gotta stand up and say something I gotta put

word out right yeah you know and I watched many guys in my career go

through the transition of being a little bit less aggressive and they realize you

know what I'm in charge of this thing I gotta go put the word out and and that's

perfectly fine yeah you know those kind of for like about a superficial

personality traits that are aggressive some people say oh well that's

that aggressive yes you know where there's more depth to it

we're like because again like you know you can think of like a I don't know

some fictional or maybe not in fact not fictional like maybe Japanese

business tycoon who doesn't say nothing really no but you know he's making

aggressive moves like that's an aggressive guy kind of it goes deep and

then you know a guy who you are you're saying like he yells and screams and has

a loud voice or whatever it's kind of okay if that's your personality that's

gonna land for sure but it's more about the decisions you make even say it's

gonna land what do you mean because that might just make a bunch of people Hank

right right some type ends on what you're yelling and screaming - sure what

you're saying is there could be someone that's loud at scream but they're but

they're they're using that to cover the fact that they're actually not making

any move essentially you see yeah so the yelling and screaming has very little do

with aggressive movement on the battlefield yeah he's what I'm saying oh

I'm saying there's more depth to it but the point actually is is that um you

should have just taken that point cuz that was a good point you know taking

that one wrong but I want to continue this was a probably less chlorophyll but

nonetheless if you if because he's concerned about faking it or coming off

with his fing we're know if you're focused on those like a superficial

elements of your personality being aggressive that's the part they're gonna

smell is fake if you're trying to change that part of sure you know like whoa

this probably used to have this tea in seventh grade is I don't know I think

it's like a music teacher know something super aggressive mutant alter he was

like a nice dude like really nice there's not too many stereotypical hyper

aggressive music teachers no man he wasn't I had I had an assistant platoon

commander and aggressive great guy and he you know I didn't I you know as I got

to know him you know and I was like so would you study in college and he's like

percussion yeah dang it were you talking about

I was like what concussion why he's like percussion drumming user draw

he started drumming in college which is just kind of deep in percussion yeah I

didn't know you could major in percussion I mean I guess but anyways

history of percussion yeah properties of percussion my point is had

he become a music teacher humidity cuz use the rest of the system

for tune commander yeah had if I had to pull the reins on him we'll be out there

getting after it this guy was not aggressive at all he

was like a nice guy trying to please everyone you know short term and long

term kind of thing which didn't really work with me I'm pretty sure was seventh

grade so he was like I remember guys we just run circles around him you know

like people wouldn't listen at all so he had trouble controlling the class we'll

say that and then I wanted one time he tried to switch his personality yeah one

time he dropped the book you know how like sometimes when you drop a book yes

sometimes when he hits correctly it's like boom it's like oh fuck so one time

Brad he tried to do that and it didn't make the sound and like no one it was

like what the fuck is this guy doing he's like looking everybody with his

eyes all big nonetheless I think that was like I think he got aggressive one

day and people like shut up and we're like hey this guy's like you know how on

someone's never aggressive then they start yelling you're like everyone kind

of be quiet yeah angas yelling so I think he might have got a small little

payoff one day and then from then on he started to try to be like aggressive

everyone could smell it on like Brad that's not even your thing so he's gotta

be working against them yeah everyone was kind of laughing at I'm not now he's

like a weirdo yep so no no no no need to do that we throw on the music book on

the table big textbook is on the floor too yeah it

didn't work for ch