What happens when we own the bad things that happen rather than trying to understand who is to blame and who is right and wrong? When we own them, sometimes it will hurt. But when we own them, we also ask what is within our sphere of influence that we can change in order to reduce the chance of a bad thing happening.
We reach out to people to get ideas. We search within ourselves. And we start to experiment with different ways of getting things done that may be less fragile than what we do today.
Any situation where we accept blame and take responsibility is an opportunity and a privilege. These are THE BEST opportunities because we know one version of something that is possible and has happened, and it wasn't good.
We can devote our energy to improving our processes and systems against a real scenario. This is how progress is made. Making a difference in the world is nothing more than investing your emotional energy to think and act to make some thing, person, or system better.
What happens to our emotional experience and self esteem when we take ownership?
Ownership is facing the messy world and taking it on to impose order over one small bit of it. The act of taking ownership means transitioning from the states of apathy, victimhood, and blame toward thought and action. You will never be more fully yourself than when thinking and acting.
Ownership means that this time, whether it works or not, we are doing this. We are not helpless. We've got this. (How do these words make you feel?)
Take ownership enough times and you may come to realize something that has been true all along: We don't need to run to go get help. We are the help. We just have to show up.
With enough practice under our belt, we show up consistently. We show up sooner. We tactically deploy our emotional detachment so that we don't act blindly. This lets us take a step back and take in the broader view and make sure we are aren't missing some crucial data.
But we never detach 100%. We show up because we care.
Choose to Care and Choose Ownership
Choose ownership and lean into it and I promise you, the situation will feel less grim. When faced with darkness all around, you have chosen to be the light. And the morale boost your teammates get may help them to fight harder and run faster as well. And it will probably turn out that they are a light for you, to help you to keep your morale going.
When your actions are a positive impact on morale, you know you are making a difference. This is the meaningful work you've been looking for. You have become the sort of impact you have always wanted for everyone around you. Soak it up!