13 Jocko Willink Quotes For Sales Leaders

13 Jocko Willink Quotes For Sales Leaders
Yesware Contributor
Yesware Contributor

Yesware Contributor

8 min read0 reads

Jocko Willink is a reigning authority on what it takes to be a leader. He is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer, successfully led units into combat during the Iraq War, and has written numerous bestselling novels, including The Dichotomy of Leadership and Extreme Ownership, centered around leadership, motivation, and determination.

It’s no surprise then that we use his words to motivate you to kick your sales leadership into high gear — here are 13 inspirational quotes to set you up for success. 

Jocko Willink Quotes


1. “Good leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they figure out a way to get things done.”  – Jocko Willink

We’re kicking it off with tough love. You want to win? No excuses.

The best leaders in any industry, including sales, are results-oriented. They use problem-solving skills instead of complaining about what went wrong and why they can’t do something. 

The next time you come across a challenge, immediately shift your thinking to searching for solutions, not commiserating with your team about it. 

2. “You already know what the right thing to do is. You just gotta do it.”  – Jocko Willink

Often the right path is the hardest path. It takes steel resolve that only leaders display to stay disciplined and motivated when you have to do something that you don’t want to do. 

A good way to prove your leadership mettle? Practice every day by facing your most challenging work tasks first, and tackle them head-on. Don’t give yourself time to think about wavering or backing down just because the task is difficult or a lot of work. 

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3. “Set your alarm clock and get out of bed when it goes off.” – Jocko Willink

Seems simple but even the early birds among us know it’s hard to start the day sometimes. Hitting snooze until the last possible minute is so tempting — we’ve all been there. 

Instead of stressing yourself out in the morning by running late, don’t delay the inevitable.

Before bed, set your alarm clock and place it in the other room and put a glass of cold water on your nightstand for the morning. After chugging that water, practice a morning routine of centering yourself before that big AM presentation.

You’ll thank Jocko and us later when you aren’t running around like a chicken with your head cut off because you ignored your alarm to grab an extra 30 minutes of snoozing. 

4. “People who are successful decide they are going to be successful. They make that choice. They decide to study hard. They decide to work hard. They decide to be the first person to get to work and the last to go home.”  – Jocko Willink

It may seem like success just passively happens to certain people, but more often than not, people who move up in the ranks at a sales firm got there because they CHOSE to work for it. 

Successful leaders don’t just let things pass them by and do the bare minimum: they make an active decision to strive to become a good leader and gain the success they want for themselves. Then they put in the work to get there. 

5. “Leadership requires belief in the mission and unyielding perseverance to achieve victory.”  – Jocko Willink

Do you believe in your product or service? Do you believe in your team, your company? It’s important to believe in what you are doing. 

Even the tiniest job tasks should be done with your whole heart and 100% of what you can give to it. When you believe in what you are doing and don’t falter, other people will follow your lead. 

6. “Extreme ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” – Jocko Willink

This is all or nothing, folks. When things go wrong — a sales meeting is a bust, or maybe a strategy fails — leaders don’t point to those around them to make excuses for what went wrong. 

Good leaders acknowledge that with the authority also comes the responsibility of the team itself. 

If the team fails, the leader knows that it is on them, just as equally as they take credit for successes. Know what went wrong and guide your team to do better. 

7. “I’m always reading the next book. Taking notes. Highlighting, researching, studying. It doesn’t stop.” – Jocko Willink

You never stop learning, adapting, and evolving in sales. There are always new techniques, new market trends, and new strategies to experiment with. You can ALWAYS improve yourself, in life and work. 

A leader knows they are never perfect, and stays humble so that they can learn from others. Overconfidence has no place in leadership.

8. “We all have a tendency to avoid our weaknesses. When we do that, we never progress or get any better.”  – Jocko Willink

We find it easy to list our strengths, but successful leaders know what their growth areas are. They can spot their weak points and aren’t afraid to tackle them or acknowledge them to their team. 

Everyone brings unique skills to the table, and leaders need to know where their blind spots are so they can address them and lead a more successful team.

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9. “Discipline Equals Freedom”  – Jocko Willink

Discipline brings to mind restraint and being tied down, but a good leader is aware that the only way to truly have control over their actions and decisions is to embody the spirit of discipline. 

Often people view themselves as passive bystanders to their own life, letting things happen to them. 

On the flip side, leaders see themselves as active decision-makers who know that the only way to be a master of their own life is to be able to practice self-control and motivate themselves. 

10. “Get up. Dust off. Reload. Re-calibrate. Re-engage – And go out on the attack. ” – Jocko Willink

Fall nine times? Get up ten. 

The only way to succeed is by not giving up. You don’t fail at being a leader when you make an error; you fail when you stay down. It’s as simple as that. 

11. “Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.” – Jocko Willink

There are just days when you won’t be inspired or really want to do much of anything at work. It happens. But don’t let it discourage you. 

As a leader, you can’t just sit back in those hard moments of being unmotivated, because time waits for no one, especially in a competitive industry such as sales. 

A good leader knows they can only count on their own determination, resolve, and willpower to see themselves and their team through any roadblocks, tough moments, or new challenges. 

The only thing that has your back during these times is your discipline.

12. “Don’t just think. Don’t just talk. Don’t just dream. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is that you actually do. So: DO.”  – Jocko Willink

Without risking copyright infringement, we can only say if you don’t do anything, no amount of words, planning, or philosophizing is going to get something done. 

Don’t just sit there and stew. Don’t be afraid or let fear of making a mistake paralyze you at work. You have to get your hands dirty. 

The only thing that matters is the results of your actions — so if you talk the talk, walk the walk! 

13. “There can be no leadership when there is no team.” – Jocko Willink

While being the leader seems like the most important role, good leaders know it isn’t. Leaders make decisions, envision the possibilities, and help guide their team on the right path, but the team is the one putting their backs into the execution of the vision. 

A successful leader in sales is only as successful as their team. They may call some shots, but at the end of the day, the real work is in inspiring others to lead and take initiative as well. 

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