We all want to do work that matters
Think back to when you were a kid and an adult asked you what you wanted to do when you grew up. Once you figured out the answer, do you remember how you felt when you stood tall and said, "When I grow up, I want to be a paleontologist (or whatever)!" I suspect that even now you can recall that sense of passion in the center of your chest. You wanted to make a difference with your life.
Most of us change our mind several times about what we want to do but we don't change our mind about why we want to do it: We want to make a difference.
But the real world throws curve balls
Every type of job usually has that "one thing" that causes people to gripe. It varies from job to job, but if you get together with people who do what you do, it won't take long before it comes up. It's that thing that drives everyone nuts and makes the job harder than it should be. For meeting planners, it's broken promises; for engineers, it's governmental regulations; and for medical folks, hands down, it is the electronic medical record.
Coaching people around the country I've encountered a recurrent theme:
"How can I do the work I'm called to do when my job sucks?"
The default response is to DISENGAGE
It is so easy just to get frustrated and disengage. Often the power seems to be stacked against meaningful change so it can be difficult to make things better. Consequently, over 60% of American workers disengage at work. They just give up.
Those who are still engaged find it increasingly difficult to make things better as more and more people become disengaged. Before long, they disengage as well.
Is there hope?
The tide of engagement has been going out for so long that things are beginning to stink worse than the marina at low tide. Engagement alone will never be enough to bring it back in. It will only shift when a core group of people is willing to stand up and take ownership.
OWNERSHIP creates positive change
In their book, Extreme Ownership, Navy Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin describe the principal of ownership based on stories from the front lines in Ramadi, Iraq that will make your palms sweat and your heart race. People on their team take ownership no matter where they fall in the chain of command. The work gets done when people take a stand and declare, "I own this!" The power of ownership in that environment means the difference between life and death.
What does OWNERSHIP require?
The key to understanding how ownership transforms high stakes environments is this: It is all about taking responsibility. It calls for the end of blaming others or blaming the environment. At the core it means owning the outcome. If things don't turn out right and people are looking for someone to blame, owners stand up and take responsibility. Those who take ownership are driven by a vision for the future. They believe that they can make a difference and they have a desire to put other people first. Owners have a defined purpose, and they are willing to do what it takes to get the job done (even if things get worse before they get better).
Those who take ownership are easy to spot because they:
- Take the responsibility for the outcome.
- Give credit to others.
- Make communication a priority.
- Don't blame the people above them or below them.
This level of commitment takes work. Hard work. It isn't possible to choose the mindset of ownership from a distance. Ownership demands that you roll up your sleeves, sacrifice, and work hard. You will get dirty. But it is so much more rewarding than becoming a victim and giving up.
Questions Owners Ask
So if you're willing to stand up and OWN the outcome, here are some questions to consider:
- Regarding the Issue:
- Can I clearly define the issue?
- Am I certain that I've identified the real issue?
- Regarding Risk:
- Have I considered the risks (internal and external)?
- How can I mitigate risk for the sake of my team and the organization?
- Regarding Resources:
- Where will I find the resources to implement change?
- If resources are scarce, how will I find more?
- Are there other ways to solve the problem?
- Can I get help or advice from others?
- Regarding the Culture:
- Do I care who gets the credit?
- How can I make my boss look good?
- How can I make those who report to me look good?
- How can I make the teams around us look good?
- Regarding Communication
- How will I communicate the issue and the plan to my team?
- How will I communicate the issue and the plan to the decision makers?
- When (not if) communication breaks down around me, am I willing to accept responsibility?
- Regarding Decision Makers
- If they don't give me what we need to do our job, will I own it or blame them?
- Did I communicate the need effectively?
- Did I provide viable options?
- Did I give the decision maker the information that they needed to make the decision to give me what we need?
- Regarding Wisdom?
- Who do I look to for guidance?
- How will I face setbacks?
- Who is supporting/encouraging me?
Reignite your desire to make a difference because we need you.
Positive change happens when people care enough to own the outcome, refuse to blame others or make excuses, and actually do something about it.
"Owners take the responsibility and give away the credit."
If you're committed to getting back to your dream of making a difference and taking on the mindset of OWNERSHIP, please shoot me a note and let me know. I'm here to support you and walk the road alongside you.