On Ownership

Individuals, organizations, relationships.


Hello all! This will be a delayed but short update as some events in my personal life have precluded me from reading as much as I would have liked. I'm back in my groove, though, and below are a few points that came up over the past few weeks.

Recently I’ve been engaging with the idea of ownership. Farnham Street had a pair of very good articles on How to Think and Active versus Passive mindsets with a very similar through-line. Each focuses on shifting our perception of responsibility onto ourselves whenever we can. Instead of falling on entrenched tropes, preconceptions, or biases, you can use an active process of self-evaluation to see what role you had in a given outcome. You might end up concluding that this was an inevitable conclusion of some set of processes out of your control, but there’s likely some color that could be provided with introspection. This is part of owning the outcomes in your life. Even Crowds and Power spends a significant amount of time discussing the role of individuals owning outcomes within the larger collective.

There was a study on relationships that ties in nicely here. The listed factors that had significant impacts on relationship quality included perceptions of the partner’s commitment to the relationship, the partner’s perceived satisfaction, and appreciation for the other. These are all things that we must take ownership of from both a personal standpoint, to ensure that we are allowing for the most charitable reading of other people’s actions, and also own from an external standpoint by understanding the likely perceptions of our actions from outside.

I also watched the Netflix series on Waco and, being relatively unfamiliar with the events portrayed therein, read the Congressional report. Besides the obvious and self-interested misconduct, I was struck by the repetition of the phrase “knew or should have known” in placing responsibility. It implies that there is a fundamental level of ownership over a certain decision, action, or outcome that either the individual must have known, given their position, or is so important that the committee considers it irrelevant if the individual actually had the knowledge or not. This is a powerful perception of ownership, and one that I think would be beneficial to apply individually.

What is your “knew or should have known” from the past week?