Jocko Willink and the Philosophy of Good

March 31, 2019

Categories: Resilience

Jocko Willink is a podcaster, author, and retired United States Navy SEAL. He’s hardcore—if you follow him on Twitter, you will notice he always posts a picture of his watch at about 4:30 in the morning. It’s as if he’s challenging you to match his level of discipline and willpower.

He has a philosophy for engaging with the circumstances of life that I’d like to share with you, because it has been a game-changer for me as I have wrestled with the inevitable ups and downs of life. The philosophy is simple, basic even, but can be challenging to implement.


Jocko’s philosophy is to respond to every adversity with a one-word response: “Good.”

The idea is that there is always some benefit we can find in adversity. There is always something we can learn from whatever happens to us, no matter how bad it seems at the time. The response of “Good” forces us to search for the benefit.

Didn’t get the job you wanted? Good. You have more time to train, learn, and build your skills.

Got injured? Good. You probably needed a break from training.

Someone broke up with you? Good. Now you can find a better relationship that works for both parties.

Didn’t make the sale? Good. You can learn from your failure and do better next time.

And so on.

Jocko’s philosophy isn’t positive thinking or some kind of “pie-in-the-sky” way of doing life. Jocko is absolutely 100% committed to reality and responsibility. This isn’t about avoiding your problems and checking out.

But it does acknowledge the reality that life is a mix of good and bad. Successful people don’t get lucky somehow and avoid having problems. Successful people have just as many problems as unsuccessful people. The difference is how they think about and respond to their problems.

Find the Benefit

First, successful people find the benefit in adversity. They focus on what they can learn, or how they can be better. They look for the opportunity in their obstacle. They are ruthless in finding the good, even in the direst of circumstances.

Keep Moving Forward

Second, successful people keep moving forward. They don’t let failure or defeat stop them in their tracks. They get up, brush the dirt off, implement what they have learned, and keep moving forward. Successful people are people of action, and they view each set-back as a set-up for their future success.


What about you? What difficult thing are you struggling with right now? What would it look like to follow Jocko’s lead and respond with “Good”? What is the benefit? What did you learn? Then get going and move forward.


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