Ownership: Taking Responsibility

Are you the owner? (source:JeremyHall)

This is a huge difference between being in high school and being in college. Most students will not take the switch well. If you are able to grab ownership now you will be a massive step ahead of the others. If you can grasp it you will be able to run forward and not look back. So what then is Ownership? The Ownership I am talking about is who owns your growth and learning process.

High School. In high school you have a number of different people who will pour into your life. Lets be honest, some of them you welcome and some of them you don’t. Those people are all your teachers, your parents, youth pastors, maybe older brothers and sisters, older people in your church, your work place…the list keeps going. Some of these people we welcome to influence us, we listen and try our best to apply what they taught us and then return with questions. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have those that try to invest in our lives that we shrug our shoulders and roll our eyes. Our teachers and parents run us down to hold us accountable for not turning in our homework or skipping class, but no matter how much or how hard they try we tell them they do not understand our situation or that they are out of touch with where we are. The point here is that they are investing in our lives whether we like it or not. They pour into us and we are usually unaware of it and therefore ungrateful.

College. Once you make it to college the whole scenario changes. All of the sudden you are around a group of people that you look up to greatly and you want to have invest in your life. The only thing is that you will begin to feel like no body does. He is the way it works. A professor at college has hundreds of students and although they may want to invest in each student they are unable to do so outside of the classroom. Many professors will struggle to to learn every one of their student’s names. All of the sudden you will notice that other people will say and even the professors themselves will say things about how much they invest in different student’s lives. This will be exciting to you at first and then you will begin to realize that none of these people you want to invest in your life on a personal level actually are. There is a shift that takes place between the two that happens and most people never see it coming. While in high school there are a lot of people that pour into your life whether you like it or not, but once you make it to college you begin to want people to build into your life but it seems as if no one does.  Now let’s be fair, the professors would love to invest in you, however they can not invest into all 300 students. So what do they do, they wait for the few who come to them. Their are always a few that come to their office and ask for their input. Those students they invest in. The students that go to them are the ones that understand ownership. They get it.

Defined. Ownership is simply taking responsibility for your own growth. There are so many people that allow just about anybody to dump into their life. There are however a few who do not take that chance. They take control of where they want to go and take ownership of the journey to get there. They take ownership.

Taking Ownership.

If you want to take ownership you need to understand that this is not about growing as a leader but as a learner. Consequently, as you grow as a learner you will also continue to grow as a leader. Taking ownership is what will keep you on track with where you want to go. So let’s take a look at how I can take ownership of my growth and begin to envision my next steps. Remember those who are off track are what we usually would call lost. There are three ways to be lost: no knowing where you are, not knowing where you are going, and not knowing either one. So let’s be sure we are not lost.

Step #1: Identify where you are. The first thing you want to do is be certain of where you are. Here is a simple tool that can help you do that. It is called the 360 Degree Evaluation. Here is how it works.

Ask 10 people close to you to give you, what they perceive to be, your biggest strength and your biggest weakness. These 10 people need to be from various areas of life. For instance, they cannot all be family. Think family, church, mentors, employers, teachers, friends, girlfriend, etc. Make sure it is well rounded and from all areas of your life. Try to ask people that you respect and that you would like to keep involved in your life. What you are going to hand in is a typed copy of the responses in a spreadsheet.


Step #2: Identify where you want to go. Knowing where you are and not knowing where you are going makes you equally as lost as not knowing where you are. Being able to articulate where you want to go will help you tremendously as you begin your journey.

Write out your goals for your life. These goals can be in any category: occupation, relationship, family, accomplishments, education, etc. Try however to have a variety. Some of them you may know in great detail and others you may not. Write them in as much detail as you can. When you write your goals on paper you are more likely to pursue them. They become a tangible  pursuit as opposed to just an idea or a concept.

If you are struggling to find set goals start with the immaterial and allow that to feed back into the material. If you need a place to begin, start by doing the following.

Answer these questions as fast as you can.

  • What do I want to be remembered for?
  • Who do I want to remember me?
  • What rewards am I aiming for?

Now take a little bit of time and try and answer the following questions.

  • What do I need to be to remembered for that?
  • Who do I need to be so that those people remember me that way?
  • What do I need to do to achieve those rewards?

The results from these questions may be connected to a specific occupation while for others they may not. Neither is wrong. I believe that running through a few questions similar to this will help you identify  a direction for where you want to go. Now that you have a good idea of where you are and where you want to go, you will need to identify the next steps in how to get there.

Step #3: Identify the next steps. Once you know where you are and where you want to go, your next step is to identify the strategy to help get you to where you want to be. Much like looking at a map, once you know those two points you can begin setting a route on how to get from point A to point B. Then you follow the route.

As you begin setting a strategy for what you want to do and where you want to go you will start to see things that you lack that you will need to accomplish the stated goal. You will also see the things that you already obtain that can be a great advantage to you in the journey.

There are a few in high school that know what they want and set out to obtain it. Most, however, do not know what they want until they get to college and begin working toward a stated goal. A degree is only an intermediate goal that allows you to obtain your final goal. College is a stepping stone not a end destination. Most people in high school see it as the next destination. Those who own it see it as a step toward what they really want to achieve.

Become intentional about where you are heading and the steps that it takes to get there. As part of your strategy include any resources that may help you begin your journey as well as continue it. Here are a few you will need to consider…

  • Mentor – If you are going to take ownership of your growth then get a mentor. You need their wisdom, guidance and perspective. Find a mentor, attach yourself to them as much as they will allow and learn everything you can.
  • Books – When you own your growth it becomes your responsibility to filter what you take in. There are books that will help you reach your stated goals faster as well as books that will deter you from where you want to go. Mentors are great for recommending good books.
  • Web – Be proactive in searching for anything that can help you reach your goal. The internet is the best source available to introduce you to new things you never knew were available. Put together a few words or phrases, sit down and google them one at a time creating bookmarks for any results that may help. Then when you have more time you can revisit them.

As you plan your strategy make sure you include an outlet. As you grow one of the best ways to learn is to practice what you are learning. Regardless of the field you are in, be sure to continue to practice. You will fall and you will need to get back up. Just remember your goal and keep going.

Ownership is less about leadership and more about growth. But the one fuels the other. Focus on your growing, apply what you are learning and you will increase your influence. The reason I post this is that there are many who never make this adjustment, are you one of them?

Recommended Further Reading

  • You might be lost if… This article is for those of you who are feeling lost and will show you how to fix it.
  • How I find great books. If you are looking to read and are not sure what to start because there are so many options, this is for you. It will show you how I pick books to read and why.
  • The importance of a mentor and how to get one. This was one of the first posts I wrote so it is not so visually stimulating, but if you do not have a mentor at this moment then this is will be a huge article for you to read.

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