Ep. 260 The power of individual responsibility


In this week’s episode, Anna argues for taking personal ownership and accountability.

Being a business owner by definition means you need to take ownership of your business (!) but this requires more than just a piece of paper at Companies House (or your country’s equivalent).

In this week’s episode, we look at…

  •  How a lack of ownership can lead you to taking a more passive approach
  • The power of proactive problem solving and having an ownership mindset
  • How you can cultivate individual ownership and own your own mistakes while empowering others to do the same

Tune in for more on taking personal ownership and responsibility.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

1:1 Coaching & Mentoring – If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring. onestepoutside.com/coaching

Individual Responsibility

Hello there, and welcome back to our penultimate episode in the series on thinking like an entrepreneur. And if you only listen to one, you’re in luck if you’ve landed on this one, because I think it’s the most important one. So if you’ve been listened to all of them, that’s amazing. But I hope you agree with me. And I hope you find insights today in the importance of this topic, because it is having a sense of ownership and personal individual accountability. And it might seem obvious, an entrepreneur that owns a business has that, you know, in spades. But I see again, and again, that it isn’t always the case, and certainly isn’t always the case when you’re working in a big corporate machine, right. So again, this topic is relevant and important, whether you do have your own business, or you are in an organization or start up a big corporate or whatever.

So as ever want to start by thinking about, Okay, what happens when you don’t have this sense of ownership? I think the big one for me is lacking initiative. If you are a leader, you may be frustrated by your team and employees who just you know, don’t aren’t don’t don’t take the initiative to come up with their own solution.

They’re sort of waiting around often it’s, you know, a new hire, which is fair enough, because perhaps they haven’t had the proper onboarding, and they don’t know what to do. Personally. For me, that was the most soul destroying thing when I started a new job, just sitting around twiddling my thumbs, not having anything to do and not being able to take any initiative because I had no idea. So that’s, that’s one scenario, obviously, when you’re first starting out, but as you have more experience, hopefully, you have the opportunity and sort of trust to be able to take the initiative. But you can be really passive, right, you just wait for someone to give you a task responsibility. And then you’re just waiting for instructions, you’re not proactively seeking opportunities to tie everything together when talking about that means that you’re relying on other people to assign you jobs and things that might not fit with who you are, what your strengths and zone of genius are and what would really be fulfilling for you. And so So I think taking that initiative is so so important to start with, once you’ve done the work of understanding what’s important to you, where you can do your best work, how you could do your best work. And so one.

The second problem with not having that sense of ownership is that you start blaming and pointing the finger out in an organization, you can point the finger at colleagues who aren’t pulling their weight in the team, or Oh, my these new hires on my team, they’re not you know that or they’re lazy bums, they were their parents who are oh my goodness, leaving the office early to pick up their kids or whatever the you know, I’m being a bit flippant about it. But you know, it’s easier to blame other people to blame the company to blame the economy, who else can we blame? When it’s just you, it’s harder to shift that responsibility. And yet, we can still unfortunately, shift responsibility to the on to external factors. So it could have been the pandemic, for example, you know, companies and businesses, entrepreneurs who kind of went off to the pandemic can’t do anything obviously, didn’t do as well as the ones who saw the opportunity to pivot and be adaptable, and all the things we’ve been talking about. But I can blame technology, I suppose. I can blame our people just don’t get it. They don’t understand what I’m communicating. Oh, what’s the Instagram algorithm again, that isn’t, you know, allowing people to see my amazing stuff. And oh, it’s so unfair that these other people are doing this. And it’s, you know, they’re using bots and blah, blah, blah. So you know, that you can hear my tone of voice, as tempting as it is to resort to that kind of blame and passing, passing that kind of ownership and accountability to someone else to something else. Ultimately, we’re disempowering ourself cells, right. And the consequence of that is, as ever, missed opportunities, missed growth opportunities. You know, it’s a lack of authenticity, I think. And it’s, as I said, disempowering ourselves. It’s basically giving other people other things, power over ourselves and saying, telling ourselves a story constructing a belief that, you know, we’re not in control, we don’t have autonomy. And actually, you know, our success and failure is due to some other factor, which is really quite quite an infringement on our liberty, I suppose, incredibly frustrating and means we lack all that intrinsic motivation and so on, that we’ve been talking about.

So, you know, failure to take ownership can really prevent you from learning from mistakes that you have maybe made from seeing opportunities for growth from seeing challenges as opportunities to learn and, and pivot and become stronger.

I do have an example that I want to share here actually a positive example. So one of my friends who he was on the podcast. I won’t say the name, actually, although I don’t know why. Because it’s very positive story. I think we recently saw he came to visit us down in pool a while back, and he was telling me how much he loves him. So he quit his job and moved his whole family to different country. And he’s got an amazing setup now and he’s doing so so well. So I’m so proud and impressed by him. But what I found interesting was, he was saying all these things that he had not already thought about and not taken upon Himself to even ask or suggest when he was working in an agency. And he now, you know, spent a whole night programming shortcuts into his computer because he knew that would save him so much time later, he never would have bothered to do that when he was working as an employee, partly because different people were using that equipment. And so if he had done it, then it wouldn’t, you know, other people would have been confused, it wouldn’t have worked but couldn’t t have suggested that they all do that come together use the same shortcuts. But no, nobody took the initiative. Because it just wasn’t, you know, on their agenda. He now has, it has a three screen setup, he’s invested in equipment that makes him so much more efficient.

He is quite geeky, as he said himself obsessed with finding a better way to deliver for his clients. Isn’t that the kind of initiative taking proactive problem solving Ownership mindset that we want in our teams, for our employees, for our leaders, right? So isn’t that interesting, but he had to kind of quit his job and and actually have full ownership of his work, have that very direct link between the work he’s doing the quality of the work delivering for his clients and the money that’s coming in to support himself and his family? How can we create that same sense of ownership and accountability in an organization would be my question, and again, for us working for ourselves? Are we actually taking that responsibility, and it makes you so you really feel empowered, right? You hopefully are empowering yourself to identify and solve problems, you address issues, you don’t just go, Oh, this is a problem, you just accept that it’s there every day. If you don’t know this already, you have the power to do whatever you don’t want in your business, at least right? So if you see something that’s getting in the way, every day, every week, let’s try to find a solution.

Having that Ownership mindset, you know, whether it’s your own venture or not, if you’re in a company that’s treated as if it were if you if this were your own business or projects, if it was just you, how would you handle if you were sort of end to end responsible for this?

How would you take pride in every sort of aspect of that work, and really, you know, act as if work as if you own it effectively, even if you don’t, and then of course, that personal accountability is its vulnerability, if you’re taking accountability for your mistakes, but it’s also reliability and demonstrating the fact that you’re worthy of trust, you’re so much more credible, when you deliver you your say you stay true to your word. And you’re going to have the respect of your team, your clients, your partners, and so on. Right. And I think this is key in our personal relationships as well. So that Ownership mindset, my goodness, is so powerful, and I think we sometimes forget, we’ve, we’ve for so long, blames, you know, the company, the economy, that whatever it is our partner, even I don’t know, our parents, or teachers for being a certain way. And we’ve been so restricted, and perhaps also during COVID, you know, we have so many rules and things from the government and about if we were about to leave our houses and things that we sort of become used to handing over those kinds of important decisions. But the truth is, we have so much more power, we can influence so many more things, we can certainly control more things and then also influence if not control, so much more than we think. And that’s hugely empowering, I think. So how can we cultivate that individual ownership? Well, again, whatever your situation, you can set yourself really clear and specific goals. And then you can align your own actions with those goals, right. So take ownership, right?

This is just owning the whole process from end to end, this is my goal. This is why it’s important to me, I am going to get the help I need for I’m going to invest, I’m going to take care of my own health and well being I’m going to make sure I have boundaries, literally every single aspect of that, you’re going to make sure that you can can deliver on that goal for yourself, for your client, for your family, whatever it is, as a slightly more painful one is that you need to own your mistakes. And I say this is more painful, because I think a lot of us and Me included are proud. And let’s face it, there’s a bit of shame there, when we have to admit that we’ve done something wrong or that we didn’t deliver on something or it was you know, we’ve hurt someone. It’s easy to get defensive and justify our actions and so on. But we really need to embrace those mistakes and embrace is quite positive word but see them as learning opportunities and take responsibility for them.

My daughter a while you guys we’ve started with the speaking of external motivation, we started with the star rewards that we give both of our kids and we had a moment a while ago where we think it was my partner who started that said like, we’re actually gonna take stars away which I questioned if we should do that because I think once you’ve had the star, I think you should keep the star. But the scenario was, you know, my daughter was being very difficult and the agreement was okay, like, I’m gonna take a stairway and she actually went to the kitchen and go Got a stall and put handed it back? And she did it say, Well, you know, she acknowledged in the way a four year old can that she had done something wrong. She got it, she took responsibility. And I thought that was such a Yes, such a good thing to demonstrate, right. It’s not about doing the wrong thing or whatever. It’s not about that and being ashamed that it happens, but own up to it.

Yes, it was me. And we had another scenario, we’ve got nail polish on the sofa. And I was just trying to explain to her at least trying to instill that sense that you know, it’s okay, it happens. But you know, I don’t want you lying about having done it. Because obviously, it was, it was her who had done it. So these are the things we grapple with as children. But perhaps we still have that sense of I hated getting in trouble. I mean, I’ve got so many stories from school, when I was informed to Mrs. Cole made me stand on the chair for the rest of the class because I broke my ruler. And I got a detention at secondary school because I hadn’t along with a few other classmates, we hadn’t wrapped our exercise books in and this was an art in wrapping paper. That’s what we do. I don’t think they do that anymore. But you know, got attention for that.

So my goodness, have we been indoctrinated into that we really don’t want to get in trouble because it leads to tension, it leads to all sorts of embarrassment and shame, right? So we need to find a way to own up to that take responsibility. And yes, it’s it’s painful at the time. But there are valuable lessons there that can contribute to that personal growth, and maybe even business growth as well.

And then, you know, whether we’re leaders in teams, or we have people working for us, however, explicitly as as sort of associates or assistants, or an actual team, fostering that environment of ownership, it’s so easy to complain about micromanaging bosses, and then become that micromanaging boss. So really think about having empathy for the other side, and finding ways to empower your team members to take ownership of their roles and contributions and, you know, flagging if there is an issue, trying to identify solutions, and not just waiting for you to tell them what to do. If you’re only the sort of command and control kind of boss, obviously, that’s going to hold them back from that. And I think we really underestimate, we know it for ourselves. Because my goodness, do I hate when people tell me what to do. And they get involved, I’m like, I’m gonna do it. Amazingly, there’s no one who can motivate me more than myself. And yet, we don’t think about the fact that we’re having an impact on other people. So this sense of ownership, you know, again, if even if we own our own work, it’s so easy to say, Oh, my partner is allowing me this or because of the kids, I can’t or I don’t have time for that, and the economy and school and blah, blah, blah, fine. Yes, total sympathy and empathy and all true.

However, that’s the reality, you know, talk about being adaptable, resilient, and we’ll talk about resilience next week. If we want to achieve our goals, then we’re going to need to go to frustrating, and I’m going to now find a way to make it work, maybe it’ll be slower than I want it to be. But I’m going to take full responsibility, accountability, you know, the harsh reality if my business is not working, then it is down to me, right, I need to pivot. Either I need to do more work and do the strategy, because maybe I’m not doing enough work. And that’s why it’s not working, or I need to I have been doing it and it’s not working. And therefore I need to pivot the strategy, but whichever scenario, it’s on me to make those changes. And again, if you’re in an organization with a team, as a leader, you need to be role modeling that ownership showing that vulnerability, admitting your mistakes and so on, as well as importantly, empowering and enabling other people. So giving them the trust, to to make decisions and, and make mistakes and then as long as they learn from them, right? So that is a sense of ownership and accountability. We’ve got the final one in our series of thinking I was gonna say thriving like an entrepreneur. But that’s true to thinking like an entrepreneur, thriving like an entrepreneur, and we’re talking resilience next week. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.


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1:1 Coaching & Mentoring

If you’re looking for one-to-one support to help you achieve your specific life and business goals, Anna has a limited number of spots for individual coaching and mentoring.


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