As I sit down to pen my thoughts on the intricacies of empowerment and the alluring pitfalls of entitlement, I am feeling a sense of excitement and curiosity to see your response to my thoughts, views and ideas.
This is a topic that has been on my mind for some time, especially as I see examples of both in my working life every day, but I have shied away from the discussion, and I am not sure why?
So, today, I am facing my disquiet and I want to invite you to join me in a debate, as we navigate the fine line that separates true empowerment from the deceptive allure of entitlement.
Empowerment, to me, is not just a mere concept but a profound force that breathes life into our existence. It ignites a spark within us, urging us to rise above limitations and embrace our innate potential. The idea of empowerment resonates deeply with my core beliefs, as I firmly believe that each one of us possesses unique strengths and abilities waiting to be unleashed. It fills me with joy to see individuals embracing their power, taking charge of their lives, and striving towards their dreams with unwavering determination.
Throughout my own journey, I understand that empowerment inspires and enriches our lives. Likewise, in the world of casino games, the variety they offer can open new horizons and bring unforgettable experiences.
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Throughout my own journey, I have encountered moments of empowerment that left an indelible mark on my soul. These instances, sometimes born out of adversity, have taught me that strength is not just about physical prowess but lies in our resilience to bounce back from life’s trials. My openness to empowerment has encouraged me to be receptive to new ideas, diverse perspectives, and the wisdom shared by those around me.
However, in today’s chaotic world, we are often fed misconceptions that blur the lines between empowerment and entitlement, and I acknowledge this, and in fact, I will admit that I have had moments of confusion myself where entitlement masked itself as empowerment for me. But it is precisely these moments that have propelled me towards self-reflection and the desire to understand what empowerment is or more truthfully what it means to me.
So, I am ready to confront my own biases and learn from the experiences of others. I embrace the discomfort that comes with confronting challenging truths, for that is how we grow as humans and I am committed to staying open to change, ready to change outdated beliefs, and replace them with newfound wisdom.
I invite you to share your insights and experiences. Your stories will enrich not only my understanding but also the understanding of our community. Let us foster a space of empathy, where we uplift and empower one another to be the best versions of ourselves.
I believe true empowerment stems from a place of self-awareness, self-confidence, and a belief in our capabilities. When we feel empowered, we have a sense of control over our lives and choices. This feeling comes from recognizing our strengths and limitations, embracing our uniqueness, and taking responsibility for our actions. Empowerment motivates us to strive for success, knowing that we have the skills and determination to overcome obstacles.
The Deceptive Nature of Entitlement
For me, entitlement presents itself as empowerment but lacks the vital traits of self-awareness and accountability. It convinces us that we merit certain privileges or chances without requiring us to exert the necessary effort or prove our worth. This mindset fosters an attitude of superiority and a belief that others or the world owe us something. As time passes, this perspective can detrimentally impact our relationships, hinder personal growth, and compromise our overall well-being.
How I recognise the signs of confusion
It’s not uncommon for all of us to confuse empowerment with entitlement, especially in a society that increasingly encourages a “me-first” mentality, especially when exposed to social media that exposes us to curated versions of others’ lives, it becomes effortless to compare oneself to others and feel deserving of similar privileges or recognition without necessarily putting in the same level of effort. Moreover, the culture of instant gratification and the emphasis on individualism fosters a sense of entitlement, as we may come to believe that our desires should be prioritized above the needs and well-being of others. This self-centred thinking often overlooks the complexities of interdependence, empathy, and the collective responsibilities we have towards one another. Consequently, I believe that the ease of feeling entitled in today’s “me first” thinking can perpetuate an unhealthy and unbalanced society that lacks the empathy and understanding necessary for true growth and cooperation.
So, to avoid falling into this trap, I regularly check myself for certain warning signs:
- External Validation: Feeling empowered should not depend solely on external validation or recognition. If I am constantly seeking approval or praise from others to feel empowered, it might be a sign that I am relying on entitlement.
- Avoiding Accountability: When we shy away from taking responsibility for our actions, blaming others for our failures, or expecting special treatment, we might be operating from a place of entitlement. Therefore, I regularly monitor my internal voices and challenge the ones that are blaming others for my actions or failures.
- Disregarding Others’ Boundaries: Empowerment respects the boundaries and autonomy of others. If I expect others to do what I want them to do without considering their feelings or choices, I may be entangled in an entitlement mindset. Therefore, I am constantly monitoring my language and looking for feedback from others to ensure that I am not crossing these boundaries.
- Unrealistic Expectations: Feeling entitled often leads to having unrealistic expectations of what we deserve or what others should provide for us, disregarding the necessary effort or work. This is a difficult one to monitor as it becomes very easy once we have proven a capability in something to believe we don’t have to prove ourselves anymore, and simply expect our reputation to deliver everything we want without effort. As a consultant every day is a new day with a new challenge, it maybe something I have seen with another organisation, but every organisation is unique and if I fall into the trap of complacency, then confidence becomes arrogance and empowerment becomes entitlement.
Cultivating Authentic Empowerment
Given the challenges I have identified above let me share with you how I try to develop authentic empowerment:
- Self-Reflection: I regularly engage in self-reflection to gain a deeper understanding of my beliefs, values, and aspirations. I acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses and embrace imperfections as part of my growth journey. Those who know me know my fascination with Japanese culture and the word that springs to mind is “wabi-sabi”. It is a term that has been presented as meaning finding beauty in simplicity and there are a number of books that use wabi-sabi as a way of decluttering your home and life, but it also means appreciating the beauty of imperfections. As part of my self-reflection and to focus on the beauty of imperfection I enjoy an artistic technique from Japan called Kintsugi. Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or other precious metals. Instead of disguising the cracks and fractures, kintsugi highlights them, turning the flaws into beautiful and valuable features. This technique symbolizes the idea of embracing and celebrating the history and imperfections of an object, rather than hiding or discarding them. Kintsugi and wabi-sabi share a common thread in their appreciation for imperfections and the acceptance of change and impermanence. Kintsugi embodies the principles of wabi-sabi by transforming broken pottery into something more beautiful and valuable, while wabi-sabi supplies the philosophical foundation for appreciating the inherent beauty in the repaired object. Together, kintsugi and wabi-sabi remind me to embrace and celebrate the imperfect and transient aspects of my life, finding beauty and meaning in them. They encourage me to value authenticity, imperfection, and the unique journey of each object or moment in my life.
- Setting Realistic Goals: Instead of focusing on what I feel entitled to have, I set meaningful and achievable goals based on my passions and interests. I celebrate progress and milestones along the way. To do this once again I embrace another Japanese concept, that of Ikigai. Ikigai is often translated as “reason for being” or “meaning of life,” and it represents the intersection of four fundamental elements and can be helpful when setting realistic goals by providing a framework that aligns passion, purpose, and practicality.
- Passion: What you love and enjoy doing.
- Purpose: What brings you a sense of meaning and fulfilment.
- Practicality: What you can realistically do and achieve.
- Profitability: What you can be rewarded for in terms of financial or other forms of gain.
When setting realistic goals, considering these four aspects can guide you towards finding a balance that promotes long-term satisfaction and success. Here’s how I believe ikigai can help:
- Passion: Identifying what you are genuinely passionate about can provide intrinsic motivation and sustain your interest in pursuing your goals. It ensures that your goals are aligned with your personal interests and desires. Once identified your passion about a topic, task or work interaction can be assessed through reflection and as I have mentioned in previous blog’s if they are not aligned then you can refocus the task or your energy back into something your passionate about.
- Purpose: Understanding your sense of purpose helps you set meaningful goals that resonate with your values and contribute to a larger vision or cause. Goals that have a deeper purpose are more likely to keep you motivated and focused, even during challenging times. When talking to people about finding purpose in their job I often get the response “. it’s easy for you, you have your own business, and you love what you do… I am just… (insert your own job title)”. Whilst I accept the fortunate position I am in, I also accept that I wasn’t given this position I have worked hard for the last thirty years to get to where I am, and whilst not everyone is in a position to start their own business it is still possible to find daily “ikigai” in what you do. Here are a few strategies to consider:
- Reframe your perspective: Look for the meaningful aspects within your job. Identify how your work contributes to a larger purpose or serves others, even in small ways. Focus on the positive impact you can have on colleagues, customers, or the organization as a whole.
- Connect with personal values: Reflect on your personal values and identify how they can be expressed within your job. Find ways to align your actions and behaviours with those values, whether it’s demonstrating kindness, integrity, or excellence in your work.
- Seek growth opportunities: Look for ways to expand your skills, knowledge, and expertise within your job. Pursue professional development or take on new responsibilities that can make your work more engaging and meaningful.
- Cultivate relationships: Focus on building positive relationships with coworkers, clients, or customers. Connecting with others and making a difference in their lives can bring a sense of purpose and fulfilment, in any job.
- Find meaning outside of work: Seek activities and hobbies outside of work that bring you a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Engaging in meaningful pursuits outside of your job can help balance the mundane aspects and provide a sense of overall purpose in your life.
Remember, finding purpose is a personal and ongoing journey. It may take time and experimentation to discover what truly brings you a sense of purpose in a job.
Stay open-minded, stay connected with your values, and continuously seek opportunities to infuse meaning into your work.
- Practicality: Considering the practical aspects helps you set goals that are achievable within your resources, abilities, and circumstances. Realistic goals take into account factors such as time, effort, available support, and necessary skills or knowledge.
- Profitability: While profitability primarily refers to financial gain, it can also encompass various forms of rewards and benefits. Setting goals that align with your practical needs and provide a sense of reward or fulfilment can enhance your motivation and overall satisfaction.
By integrating these elements, ikigai guides me towards setting goals that are both meaningful and attainable. It encourages a holistic approach that takes into account my passions, purpose, practicality, and potential rewards. This philosophy helps me avoid setting unrealistic goals that may lead to disappointment or burnout, and instead promotes a balanced and sustainable approach to achieving my objectives.
- Gratitude Practice: Practicing gratitude daily can be a powerful antidote to entitlement, as it helps shift your focus towards appreciation and contentment. Here are some ways I incorporate gratitude into my daily life:
- Gratitude journal: I set aside a few minutes each day to write down things I am grateful for. I reflect on the positive aspects of my life, including small moments of joy, supportive relationships, personal achievements, or even simple pleasures.
- I have an evening gratitude ritual: I end my day by consciously acknowledging and expressing gratitude for three things. It can be done silently or verbally, and it helps me cultivate a positive mindset.
- I practice mindfulness: I pay attention to the present moment and appreciate the little things around me. Engaging my senses and finding gratitude in the beauty of nature, the taste of a delicious meal, or the warmth of a smile.
- Acts of kindness: I engage in acts of generosity and kindness towards others. This practice not only cultivates gratitude within me but also encourages a sense of interconnectedness and empathy.
- Shift perspective: Whenever I catch myself feeling entitled, I consciously remind myself of the privileges and blessings I have. I consider the perspectives and challenges faced by others and try to empathize with their experiences.
- Gratitude in relationships: I express appreciation and gratitude to the people in my life. I acknowledge their efforts, support, and contributions, fostering a sense of gratitude and mutual respect.
Remember that gratitude is a practice that requires consistency and effort, I will sometimes miss one or more of these actions, but I will be reminded by a combination of my support network and my internal reflection, and I accept my failure to adhere to my commitments and start again. Over time, it helps reshape my mindset, reduce entitlement, and promote a greater sense of contentment and appreciation for the goodness in my life.
- Empathy and Compassion: Developing empathy and compassion is a valuable way to combat entitlement and cultivate a more compassionate mindset. Here are some strategies I use that help me develop empathy and compassion:
- Active listening: I practice active listening when interacting with others. I pay attention to their words, non-verbal cues, and emotions. I seek to understand their perspectives and experiences without judgment.
- Put yourself in others’ shoes: I imagine myself in someone else’s situation and try to understand their feelings and challenges. This exercise can help me develop empathy and gain a broader perspective.
- Learn about diverse experiences: I constantly try to educate myself about different cultures, backgrounds, and lived experiences. I read books, watch documentaries, and engage in conversations with people from diverse backgrounds to broaden my understanding and cultivate empathy.
- Volunteer and engage in service: I engage in volunteer work with MCT (https://mymct.co.uk/) who support disadvantaged young people to run their own business or simply find their place in a world that seems to have given up on them. This provides firsthand experiences of the challenges faced by others. It allows me to connect with individuals and communities, fostering empathy and compassion.
- Practice kindness and random acts of compassion: I look for opportunities to show kindness and compassion to others. Simple acts of kindness, such as offering a helping hand, a listening ear, or a kind word, can make a significant difference in someone’s life.
- Practice self-reflection: I regularly reflect on my thoughts, actions, and behaviours. I identify any patterns of entitlement and challenge them. I consider how my words and actions may impact others and strive to be more mindful and considerate.
- Cultivate gratitude: As mentioned earlier, gratitude practice can also help develop empathy and compassion. When you appreciate the blessings in your own life, it becomes easier to empathize with the challenges faced by others.
- Seek diverse perspectives: I engage in meaningful conversations with people who hold different opinions and perspectives to me. I actively listen and try to understand their viewpoints, even if I disagree. This helps develop empathy and fosters open-mindedness.
Remember that developing empathy and compassion is an ongoing process. It requires genuine effort, patience, and an open heart.
By consistently practicing these strategies, you can gradually cultivate a greater sense of empathy, compassion, and understanding, helping to combat entitlement and contribute to a more compassionate world.
- Take Ownership: Developing a sense of ownership is crucial for resisting entitlement and taking responsibility for your actions and choices. Here are some strategies I use to develop ownership:
- Acknowledge your role: I recognize that I have agency and control over my own life. I understand that my choices, actions, and decisions have consequences and impact not only me but also others around me.
- Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses: I take time to identify my strengths and weaknesses. I acknowledge areas where I can improve and take ownership of my personal growth and development.
- Embrace a growth mindset: I adopt a mindset that views challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. I embrace the belief that I can learn, adapt, and improve through effort and perseverance.
- Set clear goals: I define specific goals that align with my values and aspirations. I break them down into actionable steps and take ownership of my progress towards achieving them. I hold myself accountable for my actions and commitments.
- Learn from mistakes: I embrace failure as an opportunity for learning and growth. Instead of blaming others or external circumstances, I take ownership of my mistakes, reflect on them, and make necessary adjustments to avoid repeating them in the future.
- Take initiative: I am proactive in identifying and pursuing opportunities. Instead of waiting for things to happen, I take the initiative to create the outcomes I desire. I take ownership of my projects, tasks, and responsibilities, and demonstrate a proactive attitude.
- Practice self-discipline: I cultivate self-discipline to resist instant gratification and work towards long-term goals. I develop habits that promote personal responsibility and discipline, such as setting priorities, managing time effectively, and following through on commitments.
- Seek feedback and accept criticism: I am open to feedback from others and view it as an opportunity to improve. I accept constructive criticism without becoming defensive and take ownership of areas where I can make adjustments and grow.
- Practice self-kindness: Practicing self-kindness while developing accountability is essential for maintaining a healthy and balanced approach to personal growth. Here are some strategies I use to practice self-kindness while fostering accountability:
- Cultivate self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding when facing challenges or setbacks. Recognize that making mistakes or falling short of your expectations is a natural part of the learning process. Offer yourself the same compassion and understanding that you would extend to a friend in a similar situation.
- Balance self-reflection with self-acceptance: While it’s important to reflect on your actions and behaviours, avoid excessive self-criticism or self-blame. Embrace self-acceptance by acknowledging that you are a work in progress and that growth takes time. Focus on the progress you have made and celebrate small victories along the way.
- Practice positive self-talk: Be mindful of the language you use when addressing yourself. Replace self-defeating or harsh self-talk with positive and encouraging statements. Remind yourself of your strengths, past successes, and the effort you are putting into personal accountability.
- Set realistic expectations: Avoid setting impossibly high standards for yourself. Recognize your limitations and embrace a realistic and achievable approach to accountability. Set goals and expectations that are challenging yet attainable, allowing room for growth and self-compassion.
- Celebrate progress and milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Give yourself credit for the steps you have taken towards personal accountability. Rewarding yourself reinforces positive behaviour and motivates you to continue on your path.
- Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that nourish your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Taking care of yourself helps maintain a positive mindset and supports your overall accountability journey.
- Seek support: Surround yourself with a support system of friends, family, or mentors who can provide encouragement, guidance, and accountability. Share your progress, challenges, and aspirations with them, allowing them to offer support and remind you to be kind to yourself.
- Learn from setbacks without self-judgment: When facing setbacks or obstacles, approach them as learning opportunities rather than moments of personal failure. Embrace a growth mindset and view setbacks as steppingstones toward improvement. Treat yourself with kindness and resilience as you navigate through challenges.
Remember that self-kindness and accountability are not mutually exclusive. In fact, practicing self-kindness strengthens your ability to be accountable by fostering a nurturing and supportive environment for personal growth. By integrating self-compassion into your accountability journey, you can cultivate a healthier and more sustainable approach to self-improvement.
In a world that often blurs the lines between empowerment and entitlement, it’s essential to be mindful of our thoughts and actions. True empowerment arises from self-awareness, accountability, and a belief in our abilities. By differentiating between empowerment and entitlement, we can make conscious decisions that lead to personal growth, meaningful relationships, and a fulfilled life. Let us embrace genuine empowerment and inspire others to do the same, creating a more empowered and empathetic world.