Check Your Opinion: When Empowerment Lead to Entitlement

Everyone has a voice. This message is taught and reinforced during our school career, from pre-Kindergarten through the post-graduate level.  Everyone has a voice. Everyone’s voice matters.  What about when it doesn’t?

Several recent conversations I’ve been having with colleagues in the fitness industry reminded me of a segment that John Oliver had on Last Week Tonight several months again.  In it, he discusses the findings of a poll asking Americans about climate change.  Check out the full video HERE.

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John continues his commentary by bringing awareness to the fact that while the greater scientific community is in agreement about climate change, we still entertain discussions, debates, and discussions about it.  Let’s take a step back from the topic of climate change, and consider this an example found in every field.

Our ability to rationalize our own beliefs as facts is impressive.  The power of the human mind has sculpted society, literally change the face of the planet, and we’re each empowered to live our authentic life and tell our own truth.  I’m quite appreciative of this shift, but there’s only so much empowerment we can take.  Consider the sheer volume of motivational quotes you can find:

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Dwight is a genius!  What he’s really getting at is that we need rationality. We need the ability to take one step back from our thought process, to be aware of how we’re thinking, and examine the situation.  This metacognition is key for being able to get better at what we do.

Sneaking along with the empowerment message can also come an entitlement message.  Mostly unintended, it’s simply a misbalance of accepting your current self while focusing on the pursuit of better.  This is probably a good problem to have.  I believe that we should each have regular conversations with ourselves that go, “I love you, you’re perfect, now change.”

When we’re stagnant beings, personally or professionally, we fail to thrive.  We’re just surviving, and that’s not ideal.  Stagnation often results when we’re not reflecting on room for improvement, or when we decide that what we currently thing or do will always be the answer.  What you’re thinking right now is not always the answer.

The human psyche is full of smoke and mirrors.  We’re incredibly adept at setting a standard in our head and sticking to it.  I have a feeling this helped out our ancestors in the Jungles of yesteryear as we hurried away from our predators.  If you’re stuck in cerebral moments of contemplation, you’re dinner.  As it is, we’ve kept this ability to determine something and never look back, but now it’s not such a good thing.

When we make up our minds, we set ourselves up to fail.  Making a decision can be empowering, but in the long term, we need to be malleable and let our decisions change.  Making up your mind and refusing to change it is a problem.  Denying the alternative possibilities is a problem.  Ignoring information or evidence that may suggest something contrary to your beliefs is a problem.  Failing to check your opinion is when empowerment leads to entitlement.

The end goal is to be better.  The game of life is about becoming and fulfilling our potential, about creative self-growth, and about finding meaning in life.  When we chisel our ideas into mental stone, we cease to grow and adapt.  A malleable mind is a powerful mind, and there are often times when our own thoughts or biases prevent us from seeing or living for the bigger picture.

Remember, friends: Live with a relentless pursuit of better.

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