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Ignore; Outperform: What This Discipline Master Says Will Keep You Productive (While Others Merely Talk the Talk)

How Navy SEAL Jocko Willink deals with petty office gossip. And, this is how he deals with it when it gets too personal.

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BY Peter Economy - 14 Feb 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Office gossip bringing you down? Finding yourself focusing not on your work but on the statements others have made about you behind your back?

Unfortunately, we can't always control what comments others make about us. However, according to one decorated Navy SEAL and bestselling author, we can control how we let these comments affect our lives -- in fact, we even have the power to use these words to boost our productivity.

Jocko Willink, author of Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual, found that during his time in the military and the business world, he has utilized a specific and direct course of action when dealing with negative people talking behind his back. His preferred methodology?

Ignore and outperform.

When people are "playing office politics or forming their cliques or working their personal agendas," it can be so easy to get bogged down. But Willink reminds us that our response to these situations can be an opportunity to tap into our discipline reserves, practice mental strength and craft a lasting and productive work ethic.

"Yes. While you are over there watching me and talking about me -- I'm working.

I'm working hard. I'm taking things to the next level.

You keep gossiping -- I'll keep working.

You keep focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong -- I'll keep focusing on what I can do RIGHT."

In situations where we must respond to more serious allegations, however, Willink suggests engaging professionally. He suggests saying something like, "I heard you had some pointers for me about how I'm doing my job. I'd love to get your feedback so I can tighten up my game."

But in all other instances? Stay firm, focus on your work, and keep it simple: Ignore and outperform. "And," Willink makes clear to his haters, "when you finally look around at where you are and where I am -- you will realize that you have nothing to talk smack about."

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