There was a sentence in The Integrated Insider a few months ago along the lines of ‘don’t let ownership become blame.’
Whilst it wasn’t the main point in the article, it has been something I have discussed a few times with clients since, as it resonated with a number of them. So here is the elaboration on that point, based on the conversations that followed.
Ownership Is Not Optional
The first Principle of Body Recomposition is Ownership. Before we start to change diets, introduce new training programs, or even run an initial consultation, there has to be a level of ownership taken by the individual.
In this case, the ownership is often acknowledging the issue and then going about implementing a solution. It can be deciding to 'get fit', booking in a consultation, or simply walking an extra 1km today. You don't have to sit there and say to yourself "I'm taking ownership now!" Instead, you just do it, or at least start to do it.
Taking ownership isn’t like flicking a switch and then everything becomes much clearer, because you have been 'living in the dark'.
Whilst it is binary, it's not that easy.
Instead, ownership is more like flicking on the light switch, being a little bit blinded by the light, a little bit excited about what you can see, and a little bit daunted about what you have to do.
Most people won’t be able to keep that light on all the time, but if they gradually leave it on for longer and become more comfortable in it, will become easier to maintain.
What is Ownership?
Ownership is taking responsibility for not only actions, but also outcomes. Ownership negates excuses, because once you start taking responsibility for the outcome - not just 'your role' - the blame game often ends.
Let's say I make incredible pizzas and you decide you want to buy a few for dinner (nutritionally, I know this is not the best example, but bear with me).
I make the pizzas, and it's a great batch, and give them my delivery driver to take to your house. He gets lost on the way and takes an extra ten minutes to deliver them.
Now your food is late, and the pizza is cold - because we cannot afford those hot bags - and you are not happy.
Who is to blame?
Don't answer, because it doesn't really matter.
I can sit there and blame the driver for getting lost, and ruining my perfect pizzas, but I doubt that's going to motivate him to not make the same mistake again. It's not like he tried to get lost on purpose.
Alternatively, I can take ownership and give him some driving tips such as avoid turning across traffic at peak time and orange means speed up!
Responsibility is implied – everyone is responsible for their actions, whatever these actions might be. Everyone understands this!
No matter how many excuses someone might have, they still know it is their responsibility to rectify and no one can do it for them. The excuses don't shield them from responsibility, they shield them from not taking ownership.
On the other hand, ownership is taken by few. And 'taken' is the right word to describe it – because it doesn’t just come naturally and often is not encouraged in an environment that seeks to impart blame.
The Initial Challenge of Taking Ownership - Blame
When you first take ownership, there is an uncomfortable realisation that your current situation – that you now want to rectify - is your doing.
For my clients, this tends to be a weight gained, fitness lost, or health compromised. Most people in this scenario aren’t entirely happy.
This is confronting – no one has intentionally sought out this situation, but now they have happened and they have taken responsibility for it.
The first response is often to get even further down, because now they feel bad about the current situation AND ALSO the fact it was ‘their fault’.
Taking ownership can quickly turn into taking blame, which does no one any favours.
Blame is taking ownership of the problem, which is an important part of the process.
When you look at what got you to that place, there are actually a lot of lessons that can be learned and applied to moving away from there. So spend a bit of time looking at what might have gone wrong, what could be useful to know for the future, and just generally pick up data (every bit helps).
What we want to do is take ownership of the solution, because this is where progress gets made.
This is where you implement the new eating regime, begin to move more, and start seeing what lifestyle changes can be optimised to balance work/social/health needs.
Avoid Blame - Make Gains
Taking ownership of the problem and solution are equally important.
If you just take ownership of the solution, you might be missing key pieces of information that can be useful for getting the right program. An example might be someone who decides they want to lose 20kg by signing up for a body building competition.
If you just take ownership of the problem, you will end up further down on yourself and your ‘failures’. The longer is takes to move forward, if it all, the harder this becomes.
So take ownership of the problem, and solution, to make ongoing progress towards your body recomposition goals.