A number of years ago I sat in a Shoney’s restaurant with Joey and Herb discussing the challenges of running a non-profit organization. Both Joey and I had started charitable organizations but neither of us was very successful at getting contributors. The mood at the table was sour at best. I sensed that Joey was almost angry that nobody seemed to understand the value of all the good things he was trying to do in his community. “Why don’t people jump in with both feet and give a little?” Joey asked.
I nodded my head in agreement. My experience and sentiment mirrored Joey’s pretty closely. It seemed to me that he had a valid point.
He continued, “I mean, if someone would even agree to pay my postage or my gas bill every month it would help!”
I contributed my own tales of woe to the conversation, but they didn’t really add any illumination or insight to the subject. We were just as perplexed after our discussion as we were when we began it.
Up to this point in the conversation, I hadn’t really noticed that Herb wasn’t joining in the gripe session. Joey and I were too busy paddling down the river of self-pity and enjoying the ride. Herb listened patiently for a good while and let Joey and me get it all out of our systems. Finally, Herb seemed like he couldn’t take it any more. He smiled and shook his head as Joey and I exhausted our complaints.
“Listen, you guys,” Herb said. “You seem to think the world owes you something just because you showed up. You think everyone ought to get behind you because you‘re so wonderful and are doing such wonderful things.”
I looked at Joey, Joey looked at me, and we both looked at Herb. It seemed to me that Herb had it about right.
“Yeah, so, what’s your point?” Joey asked, smiling.
“My point is this,” Herb said, exasperated. “Instead of sitting around wishing someone would come along and give you money so that you can do some good in the world, why don’t you figure out a way to make some money so that not only you can do something positive, but maybe you can be the answer to someone else’s prayer and help them finance their project?”
It would take me years to fully digest those words. What Herb was saying without coming out and saying it, was that Joey and I had an entitlement mentality. The source of our frustration was that we expected someone to help us and were disappointed when it didn’t happen.
An entitlement mentality is the belief that someone – a family member, a friend, your employer, the government, or God – owes you something. The individual who adheres to this life philosophy usually thinks he is due because he:
- Is a good person
- Is a special person
- Has suffered
- Believes himself incapable or insufficient
- Has fantasized about a better lifestyle
What about you? Can you detect any latent entitlement thinking lurking within the recesses of your life philosophy? Any small trace of it can torpedo your chances at success, so do your best to find it and root it out before it can do you any more harm!
Excerpted from The Seven Powers of Success; Unlock Your Strengths, Unleash Your Dreams. www.charlesmarshall.net © 2013 Charles Marshall