Owning Your 100%

I recently wrote a blog about the power and empowerment that comes with and from taking personal responsibility for everything in your life – 100% ownership over everything, all the time and in every situation. While I got several supportive comments on that post, I also received several challenges in some form of this question: “What if someone else is involved in any situation? What about them taking ownership of their share of the outcome, disconnect, failure, etc.?” Interesting!

This took me back to another recent conversation with a leader about being a person who takes full ownership of situations, impact and outcomes – what you might call extreme ownership (e.g. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Saint Martin’s Press 2015). During the discussion this leader referred to a recent communication breakdown and said, “I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I can fully take responsibility for my fifty percent of the breakdown.” When I asked about the concept of extreme ownership, the leader answered “but what about the other person’s responsibility?” In this moment I stumbled into a critical awareness and perspective shift; one that since then keeps popping up throughout my conversations and coaching sessions.

Here’s the shift: We wrongly believe that every situation, occurrence or outcome has a total of one hundred percent responsibility to be allocated among the various participants. The new truth is that in every human interaction there is one hundred percent responsibility allocable for each participant. In other words, two people means one hundred percent responsibility each. With three participants, all three have the opportunity to take full responsibility for their own one hundred percent. You get the point – it’s not one hundred percent to go around, but one hundred percent each.

This is a critical awareness because with this new perspective we can finally let go of the need to blame others and the need to figure out how to allocate responsibility. Instead, knowing that we each have one hundred percent potential responsibility, the only question is how much of my own one hundred percent I’m willing to own (all of it or only part of it). What other people did or didn’t do is part of their one hundred percent, and it has no impact on my one hundred percent responsibility.

This new truth is deeply transformational because without it responsibility becomes a question of allocation and figuring out what part each person owns and how to fairly and accurately allocate the responsibility (or blame). As a result, the focus ends up more on what the other person did or didn’t do, rather than on the one person that you control – you. What a shift!

If I’m trying to parse up one hundred percent responsibility, I’m more likely to focus on the other person (not myself), and once I find something that they could have done differently, then I can’t possibly fully explore and claim my own responsibility because I’ve already allocated part of the responsibility to the other person.

Here’s the thing – even if the other person could have done something differently to change the outcome or situation, only when I take one hundred percent responsibility for myself can I (and you) fully explore the ways that we can create a different outcome in the future. To be clear – by taking full responsibility for myself (and my one hundred percent) I’m not letting the other person off the hook or pretending that they didn’t contribute to the undesirable outcome. I’m just giving my attention to the only person that I control – me.

As I said at the outset, full ownership is powerful (if I own it, I can change it) and empowering, and it offers you and the collective us the best opportunity to change outcomes in the future. Isn’t that magical! Imagine a world where everyone took one hundred percent ownership of their choices and of the impact of their choices and actions (or failures to act). I may not control everyone else’s one hundred percent, but I most certainly can own MY one hundred percent and THAT is a shift worth embracing.


  1. Chris skotarczak says:

    Jeff this piece made me think alt about unmasked and taking responsibility for my daily decisions and accepting the outcomes. I do agree that percent allocation gives us a personal sigh of relief when we can say we did “our 25%” of the problem. It allows us to pass the blame off on other people for their 75% failure. But the real question should be…why didn’t I step up and do more for a better outcome? Am I OK with 25% effort and 75% failure. Anyone who answers yes needs to look in the mirror.

Speak Your Mind