What You Actually Own

So, let’s begin with my personal definition of “own.” For me “own” means it’s mine and it can’t be taken from me. I don’t owe a dime on my house but there are a bunch of ways I could lose it. I have in my possession lots of cool stuff that could be stolen, lost, destroyed or otherwise taken from me. Even if you say l “own” that stuff it’s at best temporary.

 

No matter how much “stuff” you may claim to own you’re not going to leave this world with very much and there is nothing you can do to change that. 

 

But there are two things in this world I absolutely own and so do you.

 

The first is my self-respect. 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt, the diplomat and former First Lady said,  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

 

What an incredibly insightful statement. I first heard that in High School and boy did it come in handy. I went to a Military High School and the military staff worked overtime to try and make us feel inferior. That was back in the day when the concept of “you have to tear them down before you can build them up” was very much in vogue. They had the tearing down part totally mastered. 

 

But very few people really know me well enough for their opinion of me to matter. I’d bet that’s very much the case with you as well. So don’t let people who have not lived your life “help” you to determine your self-worth. They have no idea what you have overcome or are living with right now. Their opinion is just that, an opinion. It’s an opinion formed without many of the facts required to be accurate so put no more value in it than it deserves.

 

Always put a ton more value on the SELF part of self-respect and then be honest with yourself.  Never cut yourself more “slack” than you would someone else. You darn well know the difference between right and wrong and if it’s wrong for someone else it’s highly likely that it’s wrong for you too. 

 

The second thing that I absolutely, positively own, as do you, is the right to choose my own attitude. No one, regardless of their position, title, or importance in my life can take that from me…or you.

 

There are no circumstances, no problems, and no situations in life that can steal that right from you. 

 

In his amazing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl describes the ability to choose one’s own attitude as the last of the human freedoms and the only one that can never be taken from us. 

 

By the way, Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust and in those horrible days he held on to the ability to choose his attitude so be careful when saying that your own circumstances make it impossible. You truly can choose your attitude no matter what!

 

Living an honest life while trying to make a difference in this world will make it easier to keep your self-respect when some around you would like to destroy it. Maintaining a healthy self-respect will make it far easier to choose a positive attitude. The two go hand-in-hand.


Healthy self-respect and a positive attitude are choices, they are choices you own and always will. Never forget that, not even for a second!


Who Cares?

I’ll often catch myself saying or thinking that I don’t care what other people think of me. I hear other people say that from time-to-time too, they couldn’t care less what people think of them. I’m not sure why they say it but I think I say it as a way of “protecting” myself from people who just don’t like me. 

The truth, for me and virtually every human that ever lived, is that given the choice we would much prefer to be liked by everyone. So in truth I really do care. 

But this is also true: I care more about other things than I care about being liked. You should too! I may have a want to be liked but I have a need to do what I believe is right. Even when it causes other people to not like me.

If you’re trading your integrity to be “liked” then you’ve made yourself one horrible trade. If you’re willing to sacrifice your principles and core values to be accepted as part of the “crowd” then you’ve paid way too high a price for acceptance. 

There will always be people who you don’t click with. There will (sadly) be people who are so different from you that you just won’t find enough in common to be considered friends. But you will click with the people who you need in your life. They will accept you as you are. If they are meant to have influence on your life then their influence will change you for the better, not the worse. 

Remember those “friends” who your parents said were a bad influence on you? Your parents were probably right, you just couldn’t see it at the time. If you changed your behavior solely for the purpose of being liked more by those friends then your parents were almost certainly right.

Don’t change who you are simply to be liked. 

Not everyone is going to like you, that’s just how it is. Nobody is liked by everybody. It is far far more important that you like yourself, that you respect yourself, than it is that any other person likes or respects you.

It’s just not a healthy choice to value the opinions of people who don’t truly value you. Just be you. You are more than good enough for the good people to whom you actually matter. Those are the people who truly care about you. Those are the people who will like you for who you are, not for what they want you to be.

Everyone Wants to Feel Worthwhile

Everyone wants to feel worthwhile. There is little doubt about that fact. Everyone knows that. I suppose there is someone who might be surprised by that but they must live in some alternate universe. 

Leaders know that their people want to feel as if they matter. Great leaders know that it goes beyond a want, it is in fact a basic human need. 

But knowing that and doing something about it are two very different things. Knowing your people need to feel worthwhile is useless unless you use that knowledge to actually take specific actions that help them feel worthwhile. 

Specific actions. Strategic actions. Intentional actions. Consistent actions. 

Showing your people that they matter, that what they do makes a difference, is not a once a year, or once in a while activity. Ensuring that your people know that they are worthwhile and demonstrating exactly how they are worthwhile, requires a high level of intentionality. 

I literally recommend that leaders put a reminder in their calendar to stop whatever it is they are doing and at least once a day connect with one or more members of their team to show them how they are worthwhile to the team. To explain to them how their skills and abilities add value to the organization. Human beings need to know that they matter. They need to know that they, and what they do are worthwhile. 

I think almost everyone reading this knows that, the question is what are you as a leader doing about it? 

I’ve spoken about this often enough in front of groups and with individual leaders to know that there is actually some hesitation with revealing a person’s true value to an organization. I’ve had “leaders” tell me that if my people know how much they are really valued by the company they will want to be paid more or they may leave. 

Yep, that’s possible. Here’s what else is possible, actually more than possible, it’s even likely that if your people don’t think they matter, if they don’t know that they are valued, they WILL leave. Often, they will leave for less money. 

But here’s the real reason for helping your people feel worthwhile: it’s the right thing to do. 

If you need a more compelling reason for helping people feel better about themselves and what they do then this isn’t the blog you should be reading. But I wish you luck in your leadership endeavors, you’ll just find them much more challenging than they need to be.