Years ago I spent my summers surrounded by sweat and sunscreen working as a lifeguard at a community pool. I hung out, squinted at the pool, and followed any instruction I was given.
One summer my perspective underwent a huge change- I became the pool manager.
Suddenly my eyes sought out each trash can that needed to be emptied, noted the pH and chlorine levels of the pool, and repeatedly counted the number of patrons in the water, even when I wasn’t in the guard chair.
The overall functioning of the pool and the well-being of the patrons became a responsibility that rested on my shoulders. My sense of ownership increased dramatically.
As a manager I connected to a vision for how I wanted the pool to look and feel. I made a plan to create my vision, took actions, tracked key outcomes, and felt a sense of pride each time the pool passed an inspection with flying colors or a patron expressed gratitude for a job well done.
In short I became a whole lot more engaged with my job at the pool. In fact, I remember much more about the summers I spent as a manager. I also learned and grew a ton more during those summers as well.
In retrospect the key difference between my time as a lifeguard and my time as a manager was not so much the leadership role itself but the level of ownership I took with each position.
The fundamental mindset required for improving your life is this- take ownership for it.
Check in with your life. Are you taking an employee mindset, only doing what others expect and ask of you (in your life)? Or are you in a manager’s frame of mind, consciously directing your life where you want it to go?
Ownership has these components:
1) big picture vision
2) an independently created plan of action
3) consistent actions in support of your vision
4) understanding and tracking of key metrics
5) sense of victory and satisfaction upon completion
Taking personal ownership of your own life is a critical step towards creating your best life. Begin by connecting to the big picture vision of what it is you want to have happen in your life. Everything else follows from there.