Retired Navy SEAL Commander Jon Fussell Talks Fear, Stepping It Up and Leadership

In this clip, Retired Navy SEAL Lt Commander Jon Fussell has a raw leadership discussion. As a leader you can’t be afraid to fail. You can’t be afraid to step up to the plate, make a call and take action. Jon talks about the ability to be in a leadership role but not being a true leader – and your people will know.

Be sure to watch the full episode with Jon Fussell – Never Stop Working the Problem: A Story on Leadership –

And check out our other full episodes of The David Johnson Show:

Episode 1: US Army Veteran Keith Caraway – The Cost of Being Hooah –

Episode 2: US Navy SEAL Veteran Craig “Sawman” Sawyer – The Chapters in Your Life –

“The David Johnson Show” is a national voice that talks about points of interest in the American military and veteran subculture. Each show episode showcases a different guest with a different story. Sign up to get notified of new episodes at and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Video Transcript:

John:  One of the things I told myself is I was never going to be the guy sitting there at the conference room when people were debating about something that was small potatoes, in my opinion. I didn’t want to be the guy like, “Suck it up, you’re not getting shot at.” I didn’t want to be that guy. I’ve tried pretty heard never to be that guy.

I remember, one time, there was a discussion that was kind of a joke, debating what should be done. I literally had somebody down the table look down the table at me and say, “You think we look pretty pathetic right now, don’t you?” I was like, “Your words not mine. I didn’t say that.” [laughs] They could see…

John:  They read it on your face.

John:  They could see the look on my face like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this what we’re debating right now?” I never tried to go there. I never want to minimize what brings stress into people’s lives.

If making your quarterly numbers or whatever, that’s stressful for you because it’s going to impact you, I got it. To each his own. I tend not to sweat the little stuff too much. I’ve been through some stuff, I tried to keep evenkeeled and stuff.-

All that said, if what you’re afraid of is stepping up in on a call, making a decision, taking action, failing, I got no sympathy for you. Get out of the way.

David:  Talking about the hardcore truth on the employment show earlier, DD 214 doesn’t guarantee employment. There’s also cold hard truth here. If you’re not going to step up and you’re afraid, then you’re probably not going to be the leader of the team. This is the fact.

John:  You might end up in a leadership role, in a leadership position. You’re probably never truly going to be a leader and your people are going to know that. If you’re leadership by committee at all times, and never hedging yourself so you’re never really making a call, so you always have an out if things don’t go well.

Unless you’re working at a really, really lowend company where people aren’t paying attention. Your people pay attention. They see that. They’re like, “This guy is…She’s not want to make a call, he’s -not wanting to make a call.”

David:  I’ve seen that being in the leadership role, without being a leader. That’s a bad recipe.

John:  It is really bad, and it happens. There’s lots of good books out there. What got you here, won’t get you there. People probably read that one. Lots of organizations would say, “Hey David, you’ve been crushing it, you’re doing X,” blah, blah, even, the best sales guy for 12 years now, we’re going put you in charge of 40 sales people.

David:  [laughs]

John:  That’s deer in the headlights. You’re like, “Look, I’m really good at this. I’m a top guy but you are telling me that you’re putting me in charge of 40 people, that’s scary.”

David:  They could be a different skill set and abilities.