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Meeting a Mentor: Jocko Willink

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Meeting one of my mentors: Jocko Willink (IG – @jockowillink)

Before I found podcasts I used to listen to a ton of audiobooks. At the time I was working as a Lineman and drove up to 75,000 km’s a year. I love music but you can only listen to so much music. I also really enjoy storytelling and learning. So I began listening to audio books.

I have to rewind slightly because I first started listening to audiobooks between the years 2001 to 2004. I lived in a small town in central British Columbia and I was going to power line school in Vancouver. The drive from Williams Lake to Vancouver took roughly 5 hours and I would drive home on Fridays after school then return to Vancouver Sunday evening in time for class on Monday morning. Keep in mind that this is the early 2000’s. This means that technology was no where near what it is today. In fact the first iPhone wasn’t delivered to the world until 2007.

I would go to my local library and take out three audiobooks on cassette tape. Yes you heard me right I said cassette tape. I owned a VW Jetta TDI with a cassette player and that’s how I began consuming audiobooks. I found right away that I was gravitating to war novels and as time went on I really enjoyed the first hand accounts and experiences of special forces operators coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. I consumed everything that I could and in 2015 I found a book called Extreme Ownership by retired SEAL’s @jockowillink and Leif Babin.

At this time I had now spent the better part of 15 years in the line trade and I was transitioning into a management role in an office environment. For those of you that have made a move like this you will understand when I say it was one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever done. I won’t drag on about it but going from an extremely exciting, active and outdoor career as a Lineman to sitting at a desk in a tiny back room office wasn’t amazing at all.

I finished listening to Extreme Ownership and started applying Jocko and Leif’s leadership principles to my new career in the best way that I could.

Funny side story. After I read the book I was pumped about it so I took my time putting together an email to send to the top three senior executives at the company that I worked for. I added photo’s, web links and YouTube links to this email. Taking my time to make sure it was as perfect as my skills would allow. After all it was for the executives. The point of the email was basically stating that I thought that it would be incredible to have Jocko and his team come talk to the leadership of the company. So I sent the email and for two days I heard nothing back. I actually never received an email back at all. Two days later one of the executives that was on the email came into my office to talk so I took the opportunity to ask him if he saw the email and to let me know what he thought about it. He just looked up at me and said “is it that Navy SEAL guy?” I said yes. He said “yaaa he’s kind of extreme”.

I actually dug back in my files recently, found the email, printed it off and gave it to the guy who said that to me as he still works there. We have a good laugh at it now because we have both followed Jocko for the last 5 years and have seen his success grow.

For myself, I have not just watched his success grow from a distance. I’ve read all of his books including his children’s books. Mikey and Dragons is one of my daughters favourite books. My two, now teenaged boys and I have listened to every one of Jocko’s 200 plus podcasts. He has taught me about leadership, human interaction, and mentored me for 5 years now. He’s made me a better father, co worker, leader, and overall better human. He’s helped me develop confidence, communication skills and enhanced my relationships with people.

I recently had the opportunity to see him speak live in Seattle. So I purchased four tickets packed up my two boys, grabbed my dad and drove down to listen to him. He spoke about so many great things and in the end summed it all up with one word. “LIVE”. It’s easy to get caught up in life, just make sure that you remember to live it.

After the show I had the opportunity with my boys and my dad to meet one of my biggest mentors. Someone that I have listed to for literally thousands of hours. On top of listening to him for thousands of hours I have talked about and tried my best to practice his lessons and pass them to my children and peers. I started my own podcast for line workers and I’ve referenced his teachings dozens of times in my episodes which has lead to hundreds of more conversations.

Can one person change the world or make a difference in it? Yes they can.

During the Q&A portion of his live show someone from the crowd asked this question. They said, “Jocko, you have all of these great mentors. How do you find a great mentor because I don’t know anyone like you?” Jocko replied with “my greatest mentor is Colonel David Hackworth and I’ve never met him”. You see, anyone can be a mentor whether you know them in person or not. I’m privileged to have been able to meet one of mine and to have my family with me meant the world.

Find a mentor. Be a mentor. LIVE your life.

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