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Own it! Own your Position at Work

Updated: May 1

As seen in APeeling in October 2020


Owning it is a mindset that says, if something goes wrong and others are at a disadvantage, you own the outcome of your work. It means that when you invest time and resources on something that fails, you suffer a setback because you care about the outcome. When you don’t own something, if it fails it doesn’t impact you because if it doesn’t work, so what, it didn’t hurt you, you don’t feel any loss. Owning it means when you do something wrong, it can hurt others and hurts you too.


When you own it, you have a can-do attitude, are discipline focused, have a hard driving attack model, because problems give you courage, confidence, and the ability to take greater risks. You’ll try harder to do your best because you own the outcome.


You don’t have to start off with tough tasks, start with things you can handle and work your way up as your skills develop.


I’ve been sent into tough situations and if I didn’t own it, or believe in it, or make it my own, I wasn’t going to be successful. I’ve walked into rooms where everyone looking at me was struggling with performance results and they looked to me, hoping I’d be able to turn things around for them. That is a great weight. You can see it in their eyes when you meet them. Some people doubt you because others have come before you and failed, they don’t want to change, or they don’t believe it’s possible to turn things around. However, no matter where I went, what type of situation I walked into, there were always a few people who wanted to work with me to improve the situation and get better results.


One time, I was faced with a situation in Texas where it was so bad, I felt like I was in over my head. When I got there, I truly doubted that I had the skill to do what was asked of me and I thought, “oh well, I can always go back to find something else if things don’t work out.” That’s when I realized my thinking was flawed because I’d already started to build my exit plan for when things failed. So, instead of building an escape pod, I decided to fearlessly go forward, own the task set before me, and play each day as though it was my last to drive the team towards the goal line. That was the one time when owning it made the biggest difference because I realized there was no going back - it was get it done or nothing. When you play a high risk game without a net, that’s owning it.


If you want to own it, don’t think about your job title, don’t think about your role, don’t think about your lack of authority to make something happen, owning it means doing the very best you can do to get the job done. Have you ever tried to get help from someone only to be told, “That’s not my job” or “I don’t have the authority to help you.” Don’t be that person. Discover the problem, find out who can help you solve it, and see that it gets done. This could mean communicating the desired outcome with different departments, a supervisor, or the person beside you to find out what can be done, who can do it, and then following up to ensure it was done.


When I worked in construction, I decided I was going to shovel more dirt, I was going to push the wheelbarrows faster, I was going to climb scaffolds before somebody else did, and I decided I was going to learn how to operate a backhoe. I owned whatever job I could, even if owning it was the end of a pic, a shovel, a rake. I wasn’t going to let the heat, the cold, or anything stop me. I owned the ground I was standing on, the hole I was punching into the earth, and the next challenge I was going to take on.


I never changed that mindset. I always deliver the best I can, seek out ways to help others, and find challenges that will help me grow my skills, my reputation, and my sphere of influence. I believe the minute you tell yourself that you will not deliver your best every day, you start to open yourself up to disappointment and failure.


If you do the best you can, then your chances of being successful are higher than if you think you don’t own it because it’s somebody else’s problem, that my supervisor didn’t do it right, I didn’t have the right geographical location, or I was put in a place that was harder than somewhere else. I have been in places that were harder than anywhere else. I have worked in Erie, Pennsylvania.


Erie Pennsylvania was a very depressed little town and and people asked me with disbelief and scorn in their voice, “you’re going to Erie, Pennsylvania? Why? It’s cold. It’s grey. It’s depressing. All the businesses are going downhill there.”


Guess what? I found a charming place full of great people who supported me. Erie is a tremendous community, my best friends are from Erie, Pennsylvania. I went there to help them turn the business around, with the mindset that it was my ground, my shovel, my hole, and I have to tell you that we were wildly successful in Erie, Pennsylvania.


When I was in New York, and people were saying, “Oh, well, you’re in New York City, you have every resource you can possibly have.” Yes that’s true, but it’s also a street fight every day, It’s competitive and the best of the best play here. No matter where I am, I will tell you that owning it is a mind set, whether I’m in Erie Pennsylvania or New York City, or London England, it’s the same mindset.


Anthony C Gruppo is the CEO of Marsh Commercial in the UK, a speaker, author, and a mentor. This has been an excerpt of his book the Pushers of the Possible.

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