Entitlement vs. Thankfulness

Entitlement Vs. Thankfuness by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

The “banca” boat was dropping off supplies for vacationers on the island of Malapascua. Rice, water, beer, ice, chicken, lechon (pig), sunscreen, shirts, and thousands of other articles needed by vacationers during their “getaway.” … The banca was also dropping off people, acting as a ferry.

Malapascua is one of the Philippines’ several thousand islands and serves as an ideal getaway for vacationers on holiday from all over the world, but especially for those from cities in the Philippines such as Manila and Cebu and for the European crowd. It is not, perhaps, as famous as Bali, Fiji, Rio, or the French Riviera, but it’s nice. Not pretentious, but nice. A nice place to spend some time alone or with the family.

Recently while on holiday with my family in Malapascua, I couldn’t help but think about the conversations I heard as I ate in the restaurants, took the boat to the dive sites, and meandered around the island taking photos. The conversations could basically be categorized as ones of “entitlement” or “thankfulness.”

If I grouped the conversations, they easily fell into two categories. The entitlement conversations were full of complaints: “The food’s not hot enough. … It’s too hot. … Why does he have to dive with our group? … In Bali, they blah blah blah. … Why is it so hard to get ice?” … and a thousand more “grains of sand in the shoes” complaints.

On the other hand, the thankful conversations went like this: “This sunset is awesome. … I love watching the stars here. … This Italian restaurant is amazing. … The thresher sharks are spectacular.”

You get the point. One group of people repeatedly showed, by their conversation, their thankful hearts. One group of people repeatedly complained about most things. The same food, the same hotel accommodations, the same boat ride, the same dives, the same environmental experiences – different reactions.

In an organization, people are generally positive or negative. They generally see the glass as half-full or half-empty. One of many leadership responsibilities is to role-model positive behaviors (including the words we use). Another is to shape (using various types of consequences) the behavior of those in our organizations. … Notice I didn’t say “change.” You can’t change the behavior of others, but you can shape/influence the behavior of others (starting with yourself).

A world-class organization is largely composed of people who are thankful. They may be highly motivated. Driven. High achievers. But they rarely demonstrate a sense of entitlement. … People who are thankful are easier to lead. They are easier to be around. They are better team members. They more enjoyable family members.

Over the years, I’ve walked away from (or avoided) those who demonstrated an on-going sense of entitlement (and whom I wasn’t able to shape/influence). I prefer to hang out with people who Appreciate life and people. Look for the positive. See the glass as half-full. Look for the best in others and their circumstances.

What about you? How is your attitude? Who do you hang out with? Do you see the world through the eyes of a child – full of wonder, exploration, and amazement?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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2 thoughts on “Entitlement vs. Thankfulness

  1. Great observation! This has definitely been true of my experience managing teams. As a leader, making time to model thankfulness both in terms of what people have done well internally (thanking them privately or even better publically) and being grateful for external positives helps generate a good working culture. This is increasingly important in the West where consumerist culture shoves people towards a sense of entitlement.

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