“There is no passion to be found in playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
Well certainly Madiba didn’t settle. He was remarkable. He was one of the people that stood out from the crowd, who did something different, who inspire and motivate us, and provoke our thinking towards a life with opportunities.
I would like to highlight one character trait that ALL remarkable people display, and that is the ability to take ownership. I challenge you to read up on remarkable people, and you will find many flaws and mistakes, but what you will not find is someone who has a so-called “victim mentality”, someone who believes that circumstances dictate their lives. Remarkable people will take the cards that they are dealt, and achieve the impossible, all because they take absolute and extreme ownership of the situation.
Taking ownership is more than just taking responsibility – that can often make a “victim mentality” even worse. Taking ownership is a mindset – a brain hack – that allows you to think “out the box” and make more than the most out of any situation.
Leif Babin and Jocko Willink are two Navy Seals that started a business consulting company after retiring from the military. They spent a significant time in Iraq, and saw combat almost daily. They have written a book called “Extreme Ownership” which I would highly recommend. They describe in colourful detail how the military lessons can be applied to daily life. Not surprisingly, the first section is about dealing with our own attitudes and beliefs.
This type of extreme ownership mindset is that if anything goes wrong, it is my responsibility. If someone doesn’t do their job correctly, it’s because I didn’t train them well enough. If my superiors make decisions that aren’t the best, it’s because I didn’t communicate the situation well enough. If my team doesn’t perform, it’s because my leadership skills are lacking.
“What?” you say. “I’m responsible for all of that? That’s not fair!” And the brutal truth is this: You cannot make changes in any area of your life that you don’t take ownership for. You want your job to be more fulfilling? Then take on more, don’t wait for someone to give it to you. You want to grow personally? Then do the courses without insisting that your employer pays for it. You want a better marriage? Be a better spouse. And so on. Whenever we think that something is “someone else’s responsibility”, we disempower ourselves from doing something about it.
In a recent workshop that I was running for a company, one of the attendees kept coming back to “outside circumstances” that keep them from achieving this or that. It was difficult for the person to accept that they could make the difference. Even the economy was a reason for the results. Eventually I said to the person that “even if all that is true, it is an unhelpful way to think, because you fool yourself into believing there is nothing you can do. Even if the economy is bad, by taking ownership of your situation you can make the difference, because you empower yourself to give it a shot.” That is a trait ALL remarkable people have, and that is a trait that inspires others.
John Maxwell says that “There is always a way.” This is the remarkable mindset. This is the mindset that refuses to handover responsibility, even for global circumstances, to someone else. This is the mindset that takes extreme ownership, and even if you are not able to affect a change immediately, you are in a much more energetic and creative state of mind. Mandela, Gandhi, Jobs, Gates, Musk, JFK, and countless other people have this in common.
What situation are you facing where you have given it the power over you? What would happen if you were to take extreme ownership of that situation? Why don’t you?
And speaking of remarkable people, this year’s Live2Lead conference in October features five of them!
Sent with Love