One of the definitions of the word ‘entitlement’ in the Oxford Dictionary is: “The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” If we are honest with ourselves, most, if not all of us, would admit that we have both observed and experienced entitlement.
An example in point: I have seen a handful of Talent Management programs go down the drain, partly because those selected as ‘having talent’ started to feel that they not only deserved special treatment (based upon hard work, exceptional performance, etc.); but that they were even entitled to it.
A second example: I’ve had more coaching conversations than I can shake a finger at where my coachees didn’t receive something that they felt entitled to: a promotion, bonus, raise, recognition, etc.). And, as a member of several associate networks, I’ve seen some feel entitled to regular work or certain client assignments.
Where this really hit home for me was when, sometime ago, a treasured client that I had worked with for many years suddenly stopped reaching out with assignments. Granted, decision making had been shifted from local to global folks (who were far away), but still, my initial reaction was: “How could they just drop me like that! I’ve done great work for them all these years! Hmmmf!”
A few weeks later I was lamenting about this with a fellow colleague, and after enduring my outpour for a few minutes, she turned to me and said “How do you feel about the many years you WERE able to work with them?” After a long pause during which I was searching my hard- and soft-drive to connect with those (very different) feelings, followed by my search for a word that would pull it all together, I finally said “Grateful”.
In answer to that one question, I was able to shift my mindset from my negative feeling of entitlement (which I was not proud of and which was not doing me any good), to one of gratefulness for the awesome (yes, I have teenagers) opportunity I’d had to work with this treasured client all those years.
Personally, this reflection has helped me enormously in running my own business and working with clients: When we do good work and that leads to more work,
I am grateful. But entitled to it? Never.
So how can we coaches help our coachees when feelings of entitlement start to drag them down? While there are many, many things we can do, here are a few to get started:
And, you know what? That treasured client did return a few years later. And I was able to welcome them with positive feelings of…gratefulness. Thank you dear coach colleague, for asking that question.