Even though I wrote the following a little over 6 years ago, it still remains one of my most personal writings and reflections I’ve ever published. This was such a core moment in my life, but it actually took about 4 years for the lesson to come full circle when it all made sense. Since writing this piece I reflect on it often, and do ask myself frequently if my attitude and frame of mind is set in Entitlement or Humility. I still answer too regularly that I’m in a place of Entitlement, but at least now I’m self aware and can adjust my state of mind accordingly to Humility. I look forward to your comments, feel free to pass this on.
I would like to share one of the most important lessons I have learned in my life.
The day was July 3, 2003, at approximately 3 p.m. and I was working as a shift supervisor, freshly graduated with my bachelor’s degree in business management and confident that I knew all I needed to know to be a fantastic manager.
But it was on that day when Dan Ellis, my manager and coach, cared about me enough to direct attention to my attitude and reveal a major flaw that I didn’t even know I had.
I remember it as one of the lowest, most professionally embarrasing, times of my life as Dan was being respectfully honest with me. It hurt to hear what he said, but I knew in my heart that he was right. It was that day that I learned
about an attitude, like a disease, that I was infected with. This attitude has infected many in my generation and become an acceptable social norm; July 3, 2003, I learned that I suffered from a severe case of Entitlement.
Entitlement is a frame of mind, an emotional position, which a person takes that excuses them to a myriad of behaviors. Entitlement is one of the most crippling issues facing America today. Entitlement is demanding something for nothing and permitting laziness.
Entitlement tells you that you deserve what others have because you’re just as important. Entitlement lies to you, distracting you with greed and feelings of jealousy. Entitlement anchors you to failure and prohibits you from realizing true potential and success. Entitlement can hide behind the guise of equality, yet they hold nothing in common. Entitlement brings dissension. But entitlement can be defeated and overcome.
I have come to learn that there is a healthy frame of mind and attitude that fits perfectly in place of entitlement. The answer to overcoming entitlement is humility.
Humility is finding peace with who you are, what you can do and then doing it with perseverance. Humility is accepting that others are more important than you. Humility is based out of love and care for others. Humility believes that you don’t deserve what you have, but you are grateful for all of it. Humility honors others, rejoices in their success and creates unity around you when you embrace it fully. Humility breeds perseverance in the face of adversity because it is rooted in truth.
At some point, entitlement became an acceptable frame of mind, poisoning the entrepreneurial spirit of America. The repercussion of entitlement can be seen in legal policy and social behavior from ballot measures that want to tax the wealthy so they pay their “fair share,” to the employee who demands a promotion on the basis of seniority. Without unveiling entitlement for what it is (a disease that is keeping America weak in times of economic unease), we cannot join together and pull out of this local and national crisis.
Young Professionals please hear this: No one owes us anything. Our country, our state and our city were built with hard work and perseverance. Ingenuity and a desire for profitability lead to great changes that have shaped our world. Capital markets, net profit, fiscal success are all great goals to pursue and are not evil as entitlement would allow you to believe. The leaders whom you admire in our city achieved their positions by working hard and
persevering through difficult times.
If you are reading this and feel upset by what I say, then I’m encouraged. I know from personal experience that immediate anger is the first step in realizing there might be an issue. I speak the truth: Entitlement is not the root cause or result of any one issue or policy, but the summation of a nation that has slowly become lazy and over-consumptive of everything around it.
It is time we remember what it is to persevere. Accept the fact that only by working together and suffering together can we overcome our current situation, and humble our hearts to care about our neighbors as much as we care about ourselves. Entitlement says let others who have more take care of the problem, but humility gladly shares the burden equally and succeeds in unity.
Originally published January 17, 2010