Extreme Ownership

What does a book about two former Navy SEALs’ harrowing experiences during the Iraq War have to do with improving your health? 

The principles outlined in Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s breakout 2015 book, Extreme Ownership, have been studied by thousands of leaders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. The book’s leadership lessons learned on the battlefield effortlessly apply to the world of commerce and organizational psychology. And if we apply the Extreme Ownership principles to our own health, it may lead to positive results. 

Take Extreme Ownership Of Your Health Using Cognitive Reappraisal

The central theme of Extreme Ownership is that to be a great leader, you must own everything in your world, and no one else to blame for whatever outcomes come your way. How, then, can this tenet be applied to health? 

For starters, you can’t blame others for our own health problems; it serves no purpose. For instance, let’s say you have a genetic autoimmune disorder. It would be easy to believe that nothing can be done about your condition. After all, you inherited the condition. But this mindset sets you up for a lifetime of symptoms that interfere with your body’s ability to achieve homeostasis (balance and optimal self-healing). 

So how can we switch our thought process so we’re taking full charge of our health and not blaming others (or other factors such as genetics or the environment)? 

We can apply the principle of cognitive reappraisal, which pivots negative thought patterns into positive ones. Although this may sound like dubious, unscientific New Age philosophy, recent research suggests “cognitive reappraisal skill is an important factor in determining the extent to which an individual’s perceived stress affects anxiety symptoms,” says a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Take Extreme Ownership Of Your Thoughts To Support Health

As Healthline reported in 2018, preliminary research from Ohio State University suggests that thinking about negative experiences increases inflammation in the body. In other words, when it comes to health and wellness, you’re not just what you eat, you’re also what you think. 

It may seem only human to dwell on past mistakes or negative associations with your health. Many people as they get older lament about how fit, slim and healthy they used to be. 

But instead of looking back with negative emotions, we can apply the Extreme Ownership principle of “prioritizing and executing” a plan to overcome a health challenge. If it seems like it’s an insurmountable challenge to flip your consciousness from negative thought patterns to a more positive state, an Innovative Medicine practitioner may help, to a certain extent. It will first take a firm commitment on your part to want to change your thinking patterns. 

Taking extreme ownership of your thought patterns and your health, research shows, may lower your body’s level of C-reactive protein. High levels of C-reactive protein is associated with chronic inflammation and disorders such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological illnesses, autoimmune conditions, and depression. 

How To Take Extreme Ownership Of Your Thoughts To Support Overall Wellness

We can defeat negative thoughts by adopting the extreme ownership principle of recognizing where our attention goes. From there, we don’t draw attention to negative thoughts. If a negative thought comes into the mind, simply let it drift out of the mind like a cloud floating by. It’s also important not to fight or wage war against negative thoughts or health conditions. For this reason, the Innovative Medicine approach to healing is different from conventional medicine rallying cries such as “The War on Cancer” or “War on Lyme Disease”. 

Rather, Innovative Medicine takes attention away from the struggle and focuses it on the solution. This is an extreme ownership principle that may take getting used to. But this paradigm shift from the negative to the positive, research shows, may be a simple yet effective tool for supporting your overall health and wellness. 

Extreme Ownership Principle: Belief in the Mission

Just as a Navy SEAL team leader must convince and inspire other SEALs to follow a plan and accomplish a mission, you must be a true believer in your healing journey. Keep reminding yourself of why you are engaged in the mission. (“I’m going for a brisk 45-minute walk today to support my circulation, manage stress, and keep my inflammation levels in check.”) 

Feeling Overwhelmed? Prioritize and Execute

If life’s challenges, including your health struggles, seem insurmountable, take time to prioritize and execute a strategy. For example: 

  • Step 1: Listen to a meditation app for 10 minutes each morning.
  • Step 2: Each day after lunch, go for a 20-minute walk.
  • Step 3: Spend 2 hours one day a week preparing healthy meals for the week that you can quickly reheat.
  • Step 4: Go to bed at the same time every night and turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before closing your eyes. 
  • Step 5: Immediately upon closing your eyes before sleeping, recite positive health affirmations. (e.g. “My organs are functioning more optimally each and every day.”)
Extreme Ownership

Health Chain of Command: You’re At The Top

In the military, there’s a chain of command that must be followed. In civilian life, when it comes to health outcomes, there is a misguided chain of command. Many people rely too heavily on the influence of their doctor instead of taking extreme ownership of their health outcomes. Without a doubt, medical supervision under a doctor’s care is paramount for overcoming certain health challenges. However, the decision to commit to achieving a balanced state of health is yours and yours alone.

Extreme Ownership principles teach that although outstanding leaders seem they were born to lead, their abilities are gained through habitual practice. Similarly, by continually practicing cognitive reappraisal, you, too, can become a great leader, not necessarily for the military or in the business world, but for your own body. 


Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we may participate in affiliate advertising programs pertaining to products mentioned herein.

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Meet the Author

Judd Handler

Judd Handler is an Encinitas, CA-based natural health writer and a graduate of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) and a certified Metabolic Typing Advisor.
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