Own it.

by | May 15, 2016 | Business Strategy

Whenever someone says they want to “manage” something,

I cringe. I immediately ask myself, is there a better word? After all, words matter. The words we chose carry deep significance, not just because of their inherent meaning, but because they give insight into our actions. They cast light on our motivations.


So when people tell me they’re going to manage something (or even worse, manage-through something), I immediately try and discern whether they’re setting themselves up for failure.

After all, ownership breeds success. Management reeks of passivity.

You manage restaurants

To open a restaurant is to have embarked upon one of the most perilous business ventures known to mankind. Right up there with speculating on oil, mining for gold, and questing for the elusive treasure from an ancient shipwreck, establishing a restaurant is an endeavor in which the odds are firmly stacked against you.


Great restaurateurs know this. They practically live at their establishments in the early days. Micromanaging every dish, every service, every dining experience. Only after their restaurant is firmly established, profitable, and staffed with a seasoned team that can run a service in their sleep, does the owner dare handover the reigns to someone else — a manager.


Managers can be good. In fact, some managers are brilliant. But in my experience, the truly great ones act like owners. And that’s the ingredient that defines their success. They aren’t really managers, per se. They’re owners, pro tem.

You manage pain

With the death of Prince, it seems our society is finally taking action against the tragic (and astoundingly enormous) issue of prescription drug abuse.


The societal tragedy notwithstanding, managing pain doesn’t actually cure the underlying condition that gives rise to one’s discomfort. To manage pain is to alleviate unwanted symptoms. Like wearing a mask while ascending Hayes Hill during Bay to Breakers, to blanket one’s pain with prescription pharmaceuticals does little to advance the human condition. It does nothing to improve health.


Source: Wikipedia.com

We manage what we seemingly can’t fix — or what we decide isn’t being fixed fast enough.

You cure injury

Rehabilitation transforms injured athletes into healthy champions. Rehabilitation makes one stronger, more resilient, faster, better. It forges winners. It defines tenacity.


Rehabilitation requires work, sweat, exercise, pain. It provokes ownership. It implores one to take deep responsibility over a portion of the body, devoting hours to exercises, treatments, physical therapy, conditioning, and other healing endeavors.

You own problems

Have a nagging issue inside of your business? Own it.

To assign blame for a problem is to shirk responsibly. It disavows ownership. It’s as if you’re rearranging furniture on the decks of the Titanic.


Attributing blame is the equivalent of turning to prescription pharmaceuticals as a substitute for rehabilitation and self-improvement. Its primary function is to quell a painful annoyance. The allocation of blame retreats your organization from the very activities that will promote healing.

Own it. Fix it. If you can’t, delegate the matter to someone who can — so long as they take ownership.


If you manage through your problems, they’ll never go away. If you manage your core business responsibilities, you’re lucky if you can even maintain your competitive position. To manage today is to manage forever.

The greatest business leaders I have ever worked with — own it. And if circumstances dictate that there’s to much on their plate — they delegate.

They delegate to someone that takes ownership.

Own your destiny

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t hear someone confuse their present condition with their long term destiny.


I marvel at the people I encounter who are exceedingly curious. I admire those who refuse to accept their present condition as either given or static.

For in my experience, we are entitled to nothing. On the flip side, few things are eternal. The good, the bad, it can all change in the blink of an eye.


We can strive to make tomorrow better, only as long as we accept ownership over the things we can change. To manage through anything is to quietly turn one’s head away from the brilliant sunrise that is their future.

Leave nothing to management. Own it.

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