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[Release] In PragerU 2019 Commencement Address former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink Tells Grads to ‘Choose the Hard Road that Leads to Success’

May. 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES — PragerU released its annual commencement address video Monday as graduates across the country receive their diplomas and look to their futures. Most students undoubtedly are filled with ambition and dreaming of success — but how do you turn dreaming into doing?

Jocko Willink was a Navy SEAL for 20 years, winning both the Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery. As Officer-in-Charge of training for all West Coast SEAL Teams, he spearheaded the development of leadership training and personally instructed and mentored the next generation of SEAL leaders. He is the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling book, Extreme Ownership: How the U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win, and the host of the “Jocko Podcast.”

Willink gives graduates a hard truth about finding success after graduation: “there are no shortcuts, there are no hacks.”

“If you want to take the easy road, I promise you it’s longer and more painful than the hard road,” warns Willink. “I know — I’ve lived it … and it never led anywhere good.” Willink points out that the best experiences and achievements of his life each resulted from facing his biggest challenges, including joining the U.S. Navy and eventually making it onto a Navy SEAL team.

Willink then shares with graduates some of the battlefield-tested lessons he learned in the Navy that empower anyone to succeed.

Principle #1: Discipline equals freedom. Discipline defeats the excuses that hold you back. “Don’t subject yourself to the whims of motivation,” which Willink says is just a “fickle” emotion that won’t be enough to sustain you during truly challenging times.

Principle #2: Stay humble. “You’re going to have to do things that you don’t want to do.” Willink recounts that his first job after completing rigorous training to become an elite Navy SEAL was to clean toilets — far from what he was expecting. But he did the job well and with a good attitude. His superiors noticed his enthusiastic attitude during an inglorious job and he quickly received more important assignments.

Principle #3: Take ownership of everything, what Willink calls “extreme ownership.” This concept means graduates should consider themselves responsible for not only their assignments but for every challenge and obstacle that impacts their goals and life. Willink tells grads to “let other people blame their parents, their boss or the system. Let weaker people complain that the world isn’t fair.” In other words, you are the only person who can lead in your life, so do it.

Willink concludes with a call to action: “Choose the hard path; the path of responsibility, hard work and sacrifice, the path of discipline, humility and ownership that ultimately leads to freedom. If you follow these principles, then nothing in the world will stop you.”

View Jocko Willink’s PragerU commencement video here.

MEDIA NOTE: Please email to schedule an interview with PragerU contributor, Jocko Willink or PragerU CEO Marissa Streit.



PragerU, founded by Dennis Prager in 2011, is a not-for-profit organization that helps millions understand the values that shaped America and provides millions of Americans and people around the world with the intellectual ammunition they need to advocate for limited government, individual responsibility and economic freedom. Since its founding, PragerU videos have received over 2 billion lifetime views. PragerU is a resource for all who value liberty. It is a threat to all those who do not.

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