Entitlement. Feeling worthy. I think of both ideas often. Of course we all (admit it, you do) judge others when we look at choices they make and think “well, they sure act entitled.” Maybe they are and should feel that way. We most likely judge because we think maybe we are not worthy of what they received. “Why did they get so lucky? How did I not?” Assumptions are made by many that someone is or is not deserving of getting things, especially if they think they did not have to work for them.
Just like my dad used to always tell me: “Money does not grow on trees.” He was right, and I think the same about entitlement. Most things in life are not easy. Most things require work. Often we see people take the easy way out, and then take credit for it. You know it has happened to you. A colleague I worked with a few years ago mentioned a project he worked on recently with another individual — she did nothing to help him on the project and took all the credit. What made her do that? Did she feel entitled to do so?
“When you receive something you feel entitled to, something expected, that you believe you’ve earned, it’s not worth much. And when you don’t receive it, you’re furious. After all, it’s yours. Already yours. And you didn’t get it. Whether you’re wearing a hobo costume or showing up as a surgeon after years of medical school, entitlement guarantees that you won’t get what you need.”
He has a good point. We need to do work that we care about and feel worthy regardless of whether we get what we expect and regardless of whether others get what we think is everything without having to work for it. And…you know what? Sometimes life is not fair.
I want to teach my son that you have to work for things in life. When they are given to you, be grateful, but not entitled. Know when something is earned from your hard work and when something is handed to you. Do not take anything for granted.
I can be ornery. I like to do things a certain way, and I have a hard time apologizing. I am not sure how that happened in life, and how I became so stubborn. I actually think it is an artifact of growing up so fast. My mom became sick when I was 12. The next four years were filled with her. Taking care of her, cleaning our house, paying bills, using food stamps to buy groceries, finding my own way to/from school and other events, the list goes on. It was all up to my sister and me to figure out how to take care of my mom and figure out how to navigate our own lives. In my own way, I grew up so fast, and had to figure out things on my own, that I almost designed my own life very early on. Maybe they are/were coping mechanisms, but those critical years (when I should have been out playing and getting into trouble) I was just trying to keep shit together.
A recent Seth Godin blog titled: “Notes, not received” made me think about how maybe my childhood hardened me into not being the best at giving praise or approval. I rarely got it myself, so how would I learn to give it out to others? The third and last parts are what specifically stood out to me:
An expected apology rarely makes things better. But an expected apology that never arrives can make things worse.
An expected thank you note rarely satisfies. But an expected thank you that never arrives can make things worse.
On the other hand, the unexpected praise or apology, the one that comes out of the blue, can change everything.
It’s easier than ever to reach out and speak up. Sad, then, how rarely we do it when it’s not expected.
I still have so much to learn. I could definitely be better at work, at home, and with friends/family at unexpected apologies AND praise. We probably all can. We all probably have urges and then decide to not act on them. This is my reminder to try harder, let go more, and say what is on my mind. Hopefully it is a good reminder for you too.
I am a competitive person. Maybe it is because of being the baby of the family. I always had to keep up, and somehow along the way it made me competitive. Now that does not mean that I always have to win (although it is fun). For me it is the journey that matters. How hard did I try? How much did I care? How much did I push myself? How much did I sweat? Did I improve at all?
For me the competition is often against myself, not others. It is about making myself better, stronger, faster, sharper. Can I do something I have never done before and succeed? And, even if I do not succeed, did I truly try? That is what matters most to me. I have a hard time when folks are lazy, or when they expect something to be handed to them on a silver platter. I have what I have in life because I worked my ass off, not because it was delivered with lace, bows, and doilies.
I frequently read Seth Godin’s blog and a recent one made me ponder the idea of learning and competition.
Chris knows how relentless I am. If I decide that I want something, I will do whatever I can to get it. Always. Which is why I love Seth Godin’s blog titled: “‘Pick yourself’ and taking responsibility.” Where he talks about taking responsibility for what you want:
“If you want to be responsible for making music, make music. If you want to be responsible for writing, speaking, making change happen, go do that. Waiting to get picked is a form of hiding, not realism.”
Somehow halfway through college I stopped deciding that anyone else was going to determine my future. Only I could do that. I stopped holding my thoughts and words inside. I started speaking out loud, and sometimes it came out with fire, and anger, and zeal. Over time I have honed that voice. Sometimes it is strong, loud, and abrupt, and other times it is soft, gentle, and emphatic. It depends on the situation. I know I will continue to hone and balance what I want with the fervor of getting my voice out. It is not always easy, and it does not always come out with poise. What matters first is that it is spoken.
Now that I know what it feels like to pick me, all I can want for others is that you pick you. It matters. Whether you are a mom, or a sister, or an amazing employee, others will always find ways to run you over, take advantage, and get what they want. You are the only one that can pick you. You are the only one that can truly take a stand. You do so by taking a stand for you. You cannot wait for others to step up and pick you. You have to pick you. Set aside time for you. Get a babysitter, take a day off, say no. Do it so you have a chance to put yourself first. I guarantee that you will feel the difference.
We might all answer this question differently. What do you fall in love with? Maybe you might answer it with the person you love in your life and you think about how each and every day you fall in love with them over and over again. You might answer it in relation to the work you do and what a badass you are, by delivering kick ass delivery of _____ (you fill in the blank). Whatever it is that you continue to fall in love with, I hope you are falling in love each and every day.
“If we can fall in love with serving people, creating value, solving problems, building valuable connections and doing work that matters, it makes it far more likely we’re going to do important work.”
Gosh, if more individuals could think about our work, our day-to-day jobs and think about solving problems, creating value, and building connections the world would be a better place. I feel that is what I try to do each and every day. Maybe I sorely miss the mark, and maybe I am peeling back a layer of the onion to make things better. Sometimes it is hard to know. What I do know is that there are a plethora of problems to solve, from vast to tiny. If each day we continue to solve the tiny problems, eventually the larger problems are solved.
I feel most successful, most happy, and most inspired when I solve problems, create value, and connect with others. That is what the world is truly about – making change through people, resolution and, in the end, making things better for all. What is it that makes you passionate? What is it that you fall in love with again and again? Those are the things that you should continue to do daily.