I have been reading a lot lately about character and owning things. One of the books has been The One-Life Solution by Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s about character, boundaries, integrity, typical Adam-esk light reading book stuff, blah blah blah. A few of the other books have been 9 Things, Boundaries, and of course, Integrity.
One of the big things Dr. Cloud explains (it’s a huge part of the book) is the idea of ownership. We have to own things. Well, not literally (even though I am a huge fan of owning nice toys). I’m referring to something more along the lines of owning our successes, failures, mistakes, desires, likes, dislikes, etc. We have to own them.
In other words, we need take responsibility for them.
First, we have to figure out what they are and then we have to own them. I would also recommend writing them down. Things look differently when they’re on paper instead of only in our heads. Not just vague things like, “I want happiness” or “success.” Make it specific. “I want success with ____ by the end of next month,” etc. Being specific gives it a name and a label, and when we write things down and label it, we’re more likely to complete them.
So, after reading part of the book (I’m still working on it) and after reading some other stuff, I have started to list out and nail down what I want, don’t want, and where I stand on things. I also have a new passion to slap labels on stuff and name on everything. I mean everything. If I did something or had a part to play in it, I want my name on it. I want to own it. Not to publicize my name or anything, but because everything is easier to identify when it has a name and a label on it.
However, some people disagree. They want to avoid having their name put on anything. They don’t own everything they do; they only want to own the good stuff. It’s understandable, who wants to be known for their failures and mistakes?
People who only take partial ownership generally have significant character problems. They only want ownership and credit for their successes and the good things they do. Negative and bad things are always someone else’s fault. It’s not their fault that they screwed up at work; it’s someone else’s fault they failed the test; it’s someone else’s fault that their kids are terrors.
Oh! But don’t worry, when the group project at work succeeds and goes well, they want their name all over it and will try to take more credit than what is due to them. They only want partial ownership.
I have this theory about people who have to wear I.D. tags: I think the ones that flip them around backwards or try to hide them have integrity and character problems. Ask any one of them why its backwards or partially covered; most will say they don’t want their name to be known in case they mess something up or do something wrong.
That’s understandable. Once again, who wants to be known for messing things up? But, there’s a bigger issue at hand. It shouldn’t matter if they mess up or not, they should want ownership of their actions regardless. Everything is easier when it has a name and a label.
That’s the rub: Character.
Character isn’t an either/or thing. It’s not an “either you have character…or you don’t” situation. It’s more of a, “How good is yours?” kind of question.
We all have character; the only thing in question is the quality of it.
In order to qualify what good is we must figure out what judging scale we’re going to use to compare our actions, opinions, and entire moral compass on.
Oh yes, we have to judge. Judging is a central component of having good character. It’s very important…as long as it’s the correct form of judging. It has to be right judgment. After all, how is one supposed to decide what is and isn’t good if they can’t judge something to determine it? Saying you don’t judge while simultaneously claiming to have high-quality character and integrity is kind of an oxymoron. It just doesn’t happen. We can’t decide what is right or wrong without judging it first.
Judging is a good thing. A lot of people hate it, but believe it or not, the people who generally dislike judging are the ones who are doing questionable things to begin with. They dislike the whole concept of judging because, if judged, they would be forced to face the reality of their ethical and moral suck. They don’t want to own their shortcomings and problems. They flip the metaphorical I.D. tag backwards.
If they did judge, they would see the reality of their dysfunction and problems and be obligated to try and fix it. Or, once aware of it, they could just remain stagnant with their foggy ethical vision. The difference would be instead of being “unaware” of it, they would know about it in graphic detail.
It would be a really painful awakening for them. Sure, sometimes denial and purposeful ignorance is less painful than the truth [reality] in the short run…but only for a time. Eventually the pain of being ignorant will become greater than the pain of being aware. That’s when change happens. How change happens will be an entirely different blog series.
Character quality is key. High-quality character wants to own actions and opinions.
“The customer was rude to me, so they forced me to be angry and rude back to them.”
No, the customer didn’t make you be rude, you chose to be a lesser person and to be rude back. Their immature actions don’t give you an excuse to go down to their level.
“I failed the test because the teacher made it too hard! It was impossible!”
No, other people in the class passed; it’s obviously not impossible. You chose to not pick up your book and study. Instead, you went out and got drunk with friends who, most likely, have the same character problems as you. It’s not the teacher’s fault that you make poor life choices.
It’s about ownership.
High-quality character and integrity want to own the things that belongs to them.