Successful People Own Their Work

July 19, 2018

I had a conversation the other day with a young professional, and we were talking about entrepreneurship.

“I get that being an entrepreneur is all about owning the business,” she said, “but what about the importance of owning what you do every day, whether working for yourself or others?”

She made a great point. If you want to be successful, then you need to take full responsibility and ownership for whatever task or job your given, understanding that success or failure ultimately rests on your shoulders.

This reminded me of one of my first lessons in ownership.

I remember the first car I ever bought, at 17-years old, with money I had earned bagging groceries at a local store. It was an older model sports car with a convertible top, and it looked good. I babied that car, washed it constantly, didn’t let friends drive it for fear they would damage it, and even parked it in distant corners of parking lots to prevent dings from other car doors.

However, unbeknownst when I bought it, my car had numerous mechanical issues. More than once, this car let me down on the side of the road. Given this was before the invention of cell phones, I would often find myself either walking a long distance to find a pay phone or hitching a ride from strangers to get home. A couple of times, I made my way back home to collect my tools, then went directly back to the car to make sufficient repairs on the side of the road so I could drive my hobbled car back home for the ultimate repair.

Owning that car taught me a lot about how to repair cars, but it also taught me about the principles of ownership. I had invested in that car, both financially and emotionally, and even though it would often cause me grief and frustration, I owned it, and I was responsible for it. And in accepting the principles of ownership, I learned that when problems arose, which they often did, I always found a workable solution.

These same principles applied when I began my professional career. I learned it was necessary to take ownership for the responsibilities and projects I had been given, including the inherent problems and challenges, and make them my own. In doing so, I continued to see that I was always able to find a sufficient solution, and therefore, realize a level of success.

Ownership is not reserved for only the business owner. Ownership of our jobs, projects and responsibilities is necessary for any individual within an organization who hopes to realize any level of success.

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