Cash Flow With Joe

Prioritize and execute

Prioritize and execute


For the last two weeks, I’ve been on my eighth reading of a book called “Extreme Ownership, How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. (Well, technically I’m not reading it. The authors are reading it to me via Audible. But this is the eighth time I have listened to it.)


This book is awesome. The authors, Jocko and Leif, are two Navy SEAL command officers who were deployed to the battle of Ramadi in Iraq during in 2006. The book outlines the leadership lessons they learned while there and then how those same lessons apply to life outside the battlefield and in the business realm.


I love the format of the book. First, either Jocko or Leif will tell you a story about an operation or experience they had while in the field. They use that story to identify and define the key leadership principle they learned as a result of that experience. The next segment shows how it is applicable to business.


Using this format really keeps you engaged. Not only do the authors possess great story telling capabilities, but their ability to use those stories impactfully so you can relate and use them in your life is huge.


Here’s an example of one of those stories that illustrates the principle called “prioritize and execute.”


Leif had taken his unit into a building to provide sniper overwatch for the rest of the units that were doing some clearance missions in that sector of Ramadi. (See how that already grabs your attention?) They had patrolled in on foot during the early morning darkness prior to the first call to prayer.


When they reached the building, they realized it had some defense weaknesses. In particular, it sat too far off the road to monitor all sides. This was particularly dangerous because an enemy fighter could easily plant an improvised, explosive device, or IED, where it could do some major damage to Leif and his team as they exited the building. Their only option was to have their EOD bomb technician take very careful inventory of the area to compare with when they exited.


Toward the end of this story, Leif and his team were in a precarious position — they found an IED planted in there exit route. They set a charge to destroy that IED, but a SEAL fell through the roof they were exiting on. He was 20 feet down lying unresponsive on the ground, and there was no way to get to him. All of this was going on while the entire team was sitting exposed on a roof with no cover to hide behind.



During the scenario, Leif had to inventory all the problems he had to overcome, decide what was the highest priority and successively execute a solution for each. In this case, the highest priority issue was the team being exposed on the rooftop. So, he gave the command to set security positions.


The next highest priority was that there was a bomb about to go off. This loud explosion would alert the enemy to their position. Leif told the EOD bomb technician to stop the detonation.


Finally, they needed to find a way down to their injured teammate and get the heck out of there.


The story ended with them successively getting to the injured SEAL, detonating the IED and moving to safety.


What a story. And man, does it do a great job emphasizing the point.


In the next section, Leif lets you know that prioritize and execute is very important in the business sector. You see, in the story we see the threats that Leif and his team are facing as life and death situations. Leif, on the other hand, just looked at them as threats to the team and to the mission. And threats to your business team and mission is something we experience daily.


To mitigate these issues and use the principle of prioritize and execute, we have a weekly staff meeting where we go over all the challenges we will face in the coming week by property. We decided which is the most important and then come up with a plan of action for each.


That is prioritize and execute.


Focusing on the most important thing, remedying it and then systematically moving to the next biggest issue has allowed us to stay focused and be much more effective.


Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to or call Joe at 678-986-6813.


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