Building Community Through Better Relationships

It’s Not Entitlement; It’s Embracing Possibilities

After recently lecturing at a private university, a student approached me to comment on my presentation. She mentioned an example that appealed to her area of career interest. Then, she made The Big Ask. Can you introduce me to someone who can help me land an internship? Fortunately, I had recently helped a colleague win a new position in the student’s area who could help. I called him on the spot and introduced the two of them.

A year ago, my student in a class at a two-year college moaned to her fellow student about not having a job lined up in her field upon graduation. The listening student reminded her classmate that I bragged about being eager to help students and having a close relationships with a local business’ leadership in the first student’s field. The first student spewed back, clearly within my earshot, that he (me) would never help me. And, shortly afterward left the room.

On the surface, the first student showed a sense of entitlement in pursuing her career. She had a more privileged profile. She was bold. However, the truth was more subtle. The first student embraced the possibilities. She sought opportunities. I am certain that I was not the first resource she asked for a lead. The second student had mentally eliminated possibilities. In her mind, she had issues. Life was hard. She was born on the wrong side of the tracks. No one does anything for someone else without wanting something back. Unfortunately, her reality did not have room for opportunity.

Incompetent or Impotent
These two students approached their desires differently. Fundamentally, both were incompetent. Neither student were equipped to do the jobs they wanted. As students, they really wanted opportunities to learn more so they could contribute more. The second one happened to be impotent, as well. Her inability to progress was self-imposed. The first student embraced possibilities and attached to available power sources. Furthermore, she attracted people to be invested in her success (including me).

Holding on to Your Limitations
“If you argue for your limitations, then you get to keep them!” Entitlement means that because of unearned privilege, someone’s desires should be fulfilled. It’s a horrible characteristic! At its worse, entitlement is a burdensome limitation. It implies that achievement has nothing to do with merit. Through entitlement, achievement requires no courage, no risk. And, without risk, there is no reward! The second student could only see the possessions of entitlement and the absence of them in her life. Lacking confidence in her own abilities, she believed entitlement to be her only chance of reward. Since entitlement was not forthcoming, she rejected all possibilities of rewards.

Self-fulfilling Prophecies
“Ultimately, the optimist and the pessimist are both right.” The first student demonstrated that success is a statistical event and embraced the possibilities of reaching her goal. She welcomed the adventure. Her optimism led to asking multiple times knowing that she only needed one positive outcome. The pessimistic second student had calculated her odds and rounded the positive outcome to zero. Once all outcomes pointed to failure, starting was senseless. She finished her studies begrudgingly. Unfortunately, she had already devalued her education since she had no expectation of living an improved life after graduating.

Ironically, by completing her coursework, she in fact demonstrated a glimpse of possibilities. Her disposition was impotent, limited and pessimistic. But, she was still engaged. The real power of embracing possibilities is the spark of hope that it requires. Background, experiences and self-image, can suffocate the fire. But possibilities remain. Embracing them breathes life.

Oddly, embracing possibilities does not require much more work. But, it does require a much different mindset. Receiving the answer, “no”, is not a lifetime sentence. With a slightly shifting paradigm, “no” can mean not now. Or, “no” can mean ask me again if you really want it. Sometimes, “no” means you asked at the wrong time, or asked the wrong question. And sometimes, “no’ means “no”. But still, someone else may grant your request. Persistence pays. Ask until you get an answer you want, or you have better information to meet your needs or circumstances. Embrace the possibilities.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond


November 3, 2014 - Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Excellent post. As the old saying goes… “A closed mouth won’t get fed.” You have to be proactive with your career choices and make opportunities when there might not be one available. Hard work, dedication, persistence and uncommon professionalism will always win out in the end over doubt and apprehension everyday of the week. Pursue you goals and dreams, to whatever end, and you will never regret a decision made to achieve them.

    Comment by Fencellio McCoy | November 16, 2014 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: