Yep, that’s it – the principle element of what I strive for in my life every day. Hopefully this will help set the stage, but I also realize that I must have left you at the edge of your seat with my cliffhanger conclusion last time, so I wanted to address this right away! By now you must be thinking I’m an absolute genius, right?!? There I go again with those revolutionary ideas – ha! ūüôā

Truth: Anyone who has known me longer than 48 hours has heard me this term¬†‘Own It’.¬†While I would like to say that I demonstrate this at every opportunity given, I’m only human – so, major emphasis on the word strive. I understand that you may read this ‘OWN IT’ principle of mine and think one of two things: 1) ‘That makes sense!’ OR¬† 2) ‘But it’s so‚Ķ ambiguous‚Ķ’

Those that are thinking the latter‚Ķ it’s ok, you’re exactly right, it is vague and that is the absolutely point. That is because you have to own it for it to mean anything. Touch√©, right?

It’s really very simple to me, and really that’s what matters. Do what you say, say what you mean, and know what you do. Own it: your strengths, weaknesses, drive, integrity, mistakes, character, circumstance, opportunity, attitude, outlook‚Ķ all of it.

For the visual learners, here is what ‘OWN IT’ is to me:

Own it demo

For the practical learners, here are some examples: Below is a scenario of a job interview, from my perspective as the interviewer.

Obeservation examples:

  • Do they ask for clarity on a question if they don’t understand before they attempt to answer? Or do they fill the answer with buzzwords? Unable to answer something they never fully understood to begin with.
  • Do they speak to their strengths by virtue of owning lessons they’ve learned from past mistakes? Or do they speak to their strengths as if they are just ‘gifts’ that are natural abilities to them?
  • Do they own their weaknesses? Or have a hard time articulating them if asked?

Question examples: I ask every candidate if they have taken the¬†Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment. {take it¬†online if you haven’t – it’s a well spent $20 bucks!}

  • If they have not taken it, I’ll get 2 types of responses:
  1. A little fearful, they have no idea what I’m talking about and don’t know what say – and are usually quick to offer their own interpretation of what they believe their ‘strengths’ to be and it sounds something like: “I’m not sure what that is – but my strengths are definitley…”
  2. Owning it, they are so hungry with curiosity to learn more and see it as an opportunity, they don’t even spend time on figuring out how to explain themselves on why they haven’t which sounds something like: “I’ve never heard of that, but tell me more! What is it? What is the assesment like? That sounds awesome, I love to do those self-development type of activities, I’m going to look it up right after this call!”
  • If they have taken it, I will follow-up by asking them what their Top 5 Strengths are and will also get 2 types of responses:
  1. “I’ve taken it but it was so long ago‚Ķ I can’t remember what they are. Hmm‚Ķ I think one is influence, and maybe communication, maybe problem-solving – gosh I can’t really remember!” {epic fail here, ya’ll}
  2. “Yes, I have — mine are belief, relator, achiever, learner, and WOO! I really loved doing it, especially the…” {owning it}
  • My favorite one is asking people what their spirit animal is‚Ķ I will have to write a blog at some point about the ones that I have heard! Some responses..
  1. “Excuse me? My what?” or my favorite “Are you serious?”
  2. “Wow, that‚Äôs an interesting/great question that I’ve never been asked!! Let me think for a second‚Ķ… ok, I’ve got it!” {owning it}
  3. “My spirit animal is a _________ because of __________________.” {owning it}

Let’s, stop for a second‚Ķ and do an exercise. Read the above again, several times if you have to. Step out of the frame of this scenario, read it again and try to see the entire picture. All I have done in this example is demonstrate how to observe someone’s ability to own it, without directly asking them – “How is your personal accountability?”, “Tell me about a time when you demonstrated humility”. There, you see it? Now, play the candidate in your head for a second. Then, change the scenario completely and create a conversation or questions for something that may be relevant to you. It could be a sales pitch, a contract negotiation, a coaching session, a learning session, or a personal situation. Do you see what we did there? What are your takeaways from doing this? If you don’t have any, then go back to my first blog entry and read the last paragraph. ūüôā

And finally — ¬†what leaders look like when they own it and when they don’t — this can be directly through their words or even their actions. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† What leaders ‘say’ who do NOT ‘Own It’:

  • “Everyone better be available on chat, email, and in the office..every day for 8 hours.. I need to be able to get a hold of everyone since I work from home 4 days a week!”
  • “If you screw up.. That‚Äôs on you. Don’t take any risks because you might cost the company money, or even worse make me look bad.”
  • “This is something I’ve been saying for a while.. It’s great to finally be hearing everyone else saying the same thing”

What leaders ‘say’ who DO ‘Own It’:

  • “You are capable. I trust you. As long as the building isn’t on fire or someone’s safety isn’t in jeopardy – it’s OK to take a risk. Fail fast. Mistakes are learning opportunities, but remember I’ve got your back.”
  • “I’m just going to own it. I screwed up, and I know there was an impact to you‚Ķbut here’s what I learned and here’s what I’m going to do about it, now.”
  • “I don’t have all the answers! 50% of the time I’m learning as I go or screwing up, and the rest of the time my team is showing and teaching me how it’s done!”

Let me circle back around to my main point and clarify: I’m not suggesting that ‘Own It’ has to be your principle, but it is extremely important as a leader that you have one or several. If you do not understand what your fundamental principle(s) is, how will you be able to gut-check your actions, decisions, behavior or impact as a leader? If this is something you haven’t truly given a lot of thought to, or maybe you don’t know where to start – I highly recommend the book Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. It is available on Amazon in both an audio file and hardcover!

Last things to leave you with {promise}:

  1. When {not if, but when} you see me demonstrate something contradictory to this, please call me out on it! Seriously.
  2. What does OWN IT mean to you? Where could you apply this right now, and how would others around you benefit from it?
  3. What do you consider your principle(s) to be?

#chickboss                                                                                                              comments/questions welcome!

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