Today I spoke to a friend who works at a massage academy in the town where I live. He told me that he sees a huge difference over the last 5-10 years regarding the students’ attitude, accountability and approach. Before, those who started their 2-year-program also finished it, with few exceptions.
Nowadays, he told me, approximately half the students drop out! They sign up for the program, but even though the academy representatives are very careful to point out that it is a full-time assignment, the students still get overwhelmed and cannot cope. In some cases, students try to combine full-time studies with a job, which can become too demanding, whilst others just cannot cope.
An attitude of entitlement; a recipe for misery
When they think it becomes hard, they simply stay at home and when they come back, they expect – or actually, demand is a better word – to be provided with duplicates of the lessons they missed. He told me about a young woman who had failed three practical exam opportunities and asked for a fourth try. When he asked her if she was properly prepared this time, she replied she would be ok. However, her performance was still not good enough, so she failed the fourth time and they sat down together with her examining teacher to talk about it.
“I could hardly believe my eyes or ears”, my friend said, “when she sat down, leaned back, crossed her arms over her chest with one leg over the other, looked at me and my colleague, and calmly asked So, what are you going to do now?” She was clearly of the opinion that this was the teachers’ problem; not hers! He continued to give more examples pointing in a similar direction. Such as students expecting to succeed without being willing to put in the hard work. Moreover, students not accepting accountability for their own performance and not taking “no” for an answer. Simply feeling and acting entitled.
The intention in every situation
We know from having studied the concept of Intent, that in every situation we have a choice; a choice to either see What’s in it for me, what can I get out of this (get) or What does this situation need, how can I contribute (give). It occurs to me that these students are here only to get. They want as much as possible for as little effort as possible and they think they are entitled to success! However, what we also know is that being here to get is a straightforward route to being miserable, insecure, unsatisfied, out of power, and in conflict. That’s an overwhelming list of things that you don’t want to be!
What should I do now?
What I would wish for these youngsters is that they would climb into the driver’s seat of their lives. Take accountability, contribute, do your work every day, hang in there! That’s the way to success and happiness. Not trying to get as much as possible for as little as possible – that only produces victims. Easily offended victims, that should instead be powerful young individuals looking forward to their future as massage therapists!
The shift of focus that is necessary to find is from “What are you going to do now” to “What should I do now”. That is the question to help you move into the driver’s seat of your own life. In other words, taking accountability and understanding that you take the decisions in your life. The “What should I do now” is a variant of “How can I contribute”, the key question that we know from the Intent Thematic.
The way accountability should be looked at
The same reasoning is applicable from so many different aspects – just think of your calendar, for example! I know many people who complain that their calendar is full and feel completely victimized in the process. It’s as if everything in their calendar was put in by someone else…well, maybe it was. But we must understand that when we get an invite to a meeting, that is to be seen as a wish from someone else, or a suggestion. Maybe even a demand. But it is still you who accept the invite, who accept it into your calendar. Not doing so might come with a price, of someone being upset or disappointed, but it is still a choice.
Understanding that is such a relief and feeling of freedom! Same with a ringing phone. Just because it is ringing doesn’t mean you must pick it up. It is a choice, depending on what is appropriate in the situation.
Choose; and take accountability
Circling back to the story I started with, about the youngsters dropping out from their education: when it feels tough to get out of bed and join class, it is important to understand you have a choice you make. Maybe staying in bed is the right choice under certain circumstances. But it is important to understand that it is a choice and that it has consequences – that you own since you are the one making the choice.
To turn the question around to “What should I do now” is to take accountability for your situation and your life. Which is also the key to freedom. When you ask “What are you going to do now” might seem like an easy way out, but it is to solidly hand over the power of your own life to someone else. And this is granting your own victimhood and discontentment in the process.
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Anna is the Regional Custodian of Europe Regions for the Schuitema Group.
She has had a long and rewarding career with Swedish telecommunications firm Ericsson, holding line management as well as senior change leadership positions.
Subsequently she was part of leading a large scale Agile and Lean transformation which made it possible for her to become a senior Agile and Lean coach in Sweden.
Her work, that seeks to combine Agile ways of work with Care & Growth, opens up a new, excellent way of working with teams, leadership and culture.