Extreme Ownership and Chronic Illness

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I’ve just started on this Extreme Ownership journey. I’ve found it a bit of struggle, but I’m working through it.

I’ve been in a slump for more than a year. I haven’t been consistent. I have a lot to do. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So, how do I think Extreme Ownership (EO) can help me with my chronic illness? Read on.

Extreme Ownership

What is Extreme Ownership?

I’m far from an expert and I’ll have to read the book a few more times. But, here’s the basic idea: we are responsible for everything in our world. Disciple equals freedom.

The objective is to get rid of the tendency to blame anyone or anything else for my problems. 

We need to be brutally honest about our own obstacles and make it a priority to get them out of the way.

The underlying theme of Extreme Ownership is that all is good. That may not be something we want to hear, but it’s a way of accepting the current situation and moving forward.

Extreme Ownership

How Do I Take Extreme Ownership Of A Chronic Illness?

At first glance, this is a problem. Chronic illnesses (mine is Ataxia; ARCA1) aren’t like a boxing match, a job interview, or whatever. The steps to reach the objective and maybe the objective itself are unclear.

There are many analogies you may look at that could apply. Let’s take a war. The bigger picture may be so large and obscure that an individual may not see it. And, even if they do, it’s unclear whether their contribution may affect the outcome. Kind of like living with a chronic illness.

Instead, I look at what I can control. As a soldier in a war, what can I do? I can get up early, I can be disciplined, I can train/practice, I can be a leader and inspire those around me, etc.

Extreme Ownership

Running Towards Suffering

It’s a natural human response to try to avoid things which cause us to feel pain, fear or seek some sort of escape/comfort. But the problem is that our avoiding the thing that’s causing us discomfort isn’t solving the problem.

Let me explain. I have a progressive movement/brain disorder known as Ataxia. Balance and coordination are real problems for me as well as depression. Let’s say I choose to tell myself that I’m afraid of falling, or walking is too trying/stressful, so I’m just going to avoid it and sit on the couch for hours at a time. Problem solved, right? The irony is that my lack of activity is going to make it that much harder for me to walk.

Instead, I should try to do more, not less.

I know the best period in my life was when I was in karate, pushing myself to get better and stronger. That’s the only way forward.

This means that I have to now push myself to do things which I don’t want to do – and that’s where the Extreme Ownership comes in to play.

Extreme Ownership

Practical Tools

I don’t know what your life is like, but here are some practical tools taken from Extreme Ownership which will help.

  1. Get Up Early – like 4 – 6am. You may say “I can’t get up early. I need 8 hours.” Ok. Great. When do you go to bed? Maybe go to bed earlier. Consider that you may need some blackout shades or melatonin to help you get a better sleep. Do you need help? Join my private Facebook group.
  2. Workout First – Once you get up, put in 30-60 min. (or more if you can) of hard work. It may hurt or you may not want to do it. Do it anyways. I put up regular guided workout videos on Facebook and YouTube. Check them out!
  3. Make A Plan – I use the High Performance Planner because I find the questions it asks of me get me to think more about my day. But, you can use whatever you like. The point is to write down goals and how you plan to get there.


We often get hung up on trying to see the bigger picture. I know I do. Let’s just all agree to make each day better than the last.