Entitlement is Optional!

It’s not forced on us, it’s something we choose, and we rarely benefit from that choice.

That emergency surgery, the one that saved your life, when the ruptured appendix was removed? The doctor left a scar. We can choose to be grateful for our next breath, or we can find a way to be enraged, to point out that given how much it costs and how much training the doctor had, that scar really ought to be a lot smaller. On top of that, he wasn’t very nice. After all, aren’t we’re entitled to a nice doctor, or can we choose to just be grateful?

Marketers have spent millions of dollars persuading us that we can have it all, that we deserve it, and that right around the corner is something even better.

Politicians have told us that they’ll handle everything, that our pain is real and that an even better world is imminent. What’s worse is that we believe it! We buy into our privilege as well as the expectation that our privilege entitles us to even more. It’s not even about status; it’s become a cultural norm.

So, what the heck? You’re entitled to your entitlement if you want it. But why would you?

Entitlement gets us nothing but immobility. It blinds us to what’s possible. It insulates us from the magic of gratitude. Most of all, it lets us off the hook, pushing us away from taking responsibility (and action) and toward apportioning blame and anger instead.

Gratitude, on the other hand, is just as valid a choice. Gratitude makes us open to possibility. It brings us closer to others and it makes us happier.

There’s a simple oxymoron at work here: We’re not grateful because we’re happy. We’re happy because we’re grateful. Everything could be better; not because we deserve it but because if we work at it, invest in it and connect with others around it, we can make it better.

It’s difficult work, counter-instinctual work that never ends. So, why do we keep trying?

Truth Be Told, because it’s worth it and because it’s all really on us!

Published by The Leadership Consortium

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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