Extreme Ownership (2 Part Series)
In my last article on the topic, we explored some of the benefits of Extreme Ownership to Leadership and Personal Growth in general. And while I can stand firmly behind the belief that we should not be so quick to pass on our responsibility to others, I do believe this is a method that should be applied slightly more cautiously.
As my experience in a java software development company is growing, I have been applying this method to my own practices. And so there is a lot more to walking the right balance when it comes to Extreme Ownership. Here is what I learned:
Extreme Ownership is a method that is tightly connected to the Response of people when it comes to the way they view and react to their immediate circumstances. However, it should not be mistaken for accepting the responsibility of the event itself. This is usually where extreme ownership grows into a world-on-your-shoulder mindset that is ultimately detrimental to your mental health.
So a clear line should be drawn between an Event and Response. Extreme Ownership targets the response alone - allowing for you to extract the best result of the Event by taking on ownership and adjusting your own behavioural response.
If you have read my article on The Five Whys method, you might be familiar with the following scenario.
Let me set the scene:
I am in Paris for the first time. I have never used an electric scooter before so I rent one - a Lime. I get used to the motion for 5 to 10 minutes and go on to ride it on the bike and bus alley as I intend to use it as transportation to the hotel. I hold my phone in my left hand while riding, for the purpose of using Google Maps to avoid getting lost.
On a stoplight, as the light turns green I press the switch to get started, but end up accelerating too quickly. Fearing losing control of the vehicle, I hit the breaks, while sending my phone flying on the lane on my left with the motion.
My phone is crushed by cars.
EO Response one - trying to control the event:
Getting angry that the Limes do not have a phone holder or that the driver did not see my phone on the road and ran it over.
Accepting the responsibility to the factors that are completely out of my control would not be in any way beneficial for my future wellbeing - while technically, it does fall under the Extreme Ownership umbrella.
EO Response two - controlling my response to the event:
Choosing to learn from the experience. Next time I am on a lime I will have my phone in a secure place in my pocket or on a holder. In addition, I will not rush to get on the road before I am fully used to the vehicle controls. Even one as small as a bike or a scooter.
As you see, there is a distinguishable difference between Event and Response. Only one of them can be influenced by you fully, hence you should take responsibility only for it.
As you see in the example above, in the exact same situation, there can be multiple potential responses. While the Event is out of your control, the Response is where Extreme Ownership can benefit your approach to situations.
EO can be used as a retrospective approach:
While overthinking is something that cand drive you to be paranoid, taking just a pinch of it and applying it to your life can actually be good for you. As human beings, we inherently have the ability to analyze situations and imagine different outcomes. Some are more adept with this skill and are considered more analytical and logical.
But we all possess the ability to a varying extent. Using extreme ownership to zero in on your own actions in a situation can help you be better prepared in future instances, where you are in a similar position. For example, if you are in a job interview and you are put on the spot, and you were not prepared to respond and said something you think puts you at a disadvantage, next time you are interviewed you will be prepared that you need to be quick on your feet.
When those situations come to be you should take a moment to calmly assess what you could have done better, and apply what you discover to the next such encounter.
EO can be used as a way to build leadership skills:
As far as business goes, it is being run by teams that need leaders. So it is highly likely that when you grow professionally you might be considered for a leading role. So exercising Extreme Ownership makes you better prepared to handle the responsibility of being directly influenced by others’ performance.
It also teaches you the impact your own actions have on other people and situations. By accepting ownership of the part you played specifically, you learn how to manage this to a degree that allows you to make good leadership decisions once the time comes.
EO should NOT be used:
- To manage situations that you have no control over objectively. For example, applying it to political tendencies in a different country would be futile. No amount of ownership you take would change the situation while bringing you nothing but unsolicited stress.
- Take on all of the workloads always. Some leaders carry the mindset that if they want something done right they have to do it themselves. If, you are the leader in order to delegate the work in a way that will be the most efficient. Not to do all the work yourself. In this situation using EO would be to take the responsibility of whether you distribute the work fairly between the people based on their competence, and who would get the task done the best.
- “All extremes are bad. All that is good and useful, if carried to extremes may become and beyond a certain limit is bounds to become bad and injurious.”
- Vladimir Lenin
The Extreme Ownership method is a great way to grow both personally and professionally. If you live dodging responsibility, and therefore ownership, you are likely in a position that is familiar to you and you feel you are good at. However, how are you supposed to grow if you cannot challenge yourself to be responsible for the decisions you make and the actions you take?
Do you believe Extreme Ownership has a place in the lives of the modern individual? Do you see yourself practising it as a mindset shift? If you have been doing so, what are the results you observed?
Make sure to add your opinion to the discussion below!