“Accountability breeds response-ability.” ~ Stephen Covey
Ownership is a word we think of in terms of materialistic gain. I own a house, I own a car, I own a pet (which is decidedly different from being a master to a pet), or I own [fill in the blank]. I spend time observing and listening to what goes on around me. Yes, sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. In addition, to being a student of life and looking for the lessons that surround us, means I have to look and listen. Too often, I find that people dither when confronted with options or points of decision-making. For some people, there is difficulty in making decision for themselves, and when the one person is responsible for a group, anxiety gets added on as another layer leading to indecision. “Owning it”, comes easy to some and not to others.
Some causes that lead to a fear of ownership (or following the mindset of the masses):
- Fear of Failure – We are taught from a young age that we are either a winner or a loser. If we strike out, we are a loser. If we do not get good grades, we received punishment. As we do things for the first time, not meeting expectations leads to others telling us we are stupid, putting us down, etc. As we get older, we run from opportunities that can potentially lead to failure due to this learned emotion.
- Desire to “Fit in” – How often have we heard the phrase, “…because everyone is doing it...” As social beings, we do have a desire to fit in somewhere. Unfortunately, that desire has us doing what the crowds around us do, and sometimes we follow a group , even if we do not agree with them, just to be accepted (i.e., certain nations following a leader in WWII).
- Feelings of Entitlement – This is the “I’ve done that before, so I deserve this now” mindset. It also comes from a feeling of “why don’t I have that opportunity”. Once we feel that we are owed something, we cede control of our desires and become dependent on the expectation that an outside source will provide.
- Mindset of Excuses – There always seems to be a reason why we did not do something. Along with excuses comes blame, the reason for us not “owning up” is out of our control, or someone else’s fault. Growing up, my father drilled into my brothers and I that if you know you will not do something you said, say it up front (referred to in project management as an obstacle to success). If you say it after the fact, it is an excuse. One that constantly relies on excuses and blame never takes responsibility.
This week was the fear of ownership, next week I will write on embracing ownership.