Entitlement is the Road to Disappointment

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Many writers and sociologists have referred to the era in which we live as the “age of entitlement.” People’s expectations of life have never been higher; therefore, disappointments have never been greater. How can we avoid being entitled? How can we find the line between standing up for what we deserve and expecting too much?

The type of entitlement I will discuss in this lesson is defined as such: the belief that you deserve special treatment and privileges just for being you. This attitude is the antithesis of humility and the enemy of growth.

Entitled people:

  • Are rude when they don’t get their way
  • Expect others to do favors for them
  • Assume they’ll be rewarded merely for participation
  • Are often angry at their unmet and unspoken expectations of others
  • Feel victimized when they are not treated as extraordinary
  • Suffer chronic disappointment as a result of their expectations

People who seem entitled are likely to lose the respect of their peers, the patience of their leaders, and the accommodation of their friends.

Here are five ways to avoid entitlement:

  1. Get to the heart of the issue. Look within. Do you believe that you are worth more than those around you? Do you think you deserve a prize just for being you? This isn’t meant to deter you from being confident; it’s meant to stop you from becoming prideful. Confidence is well founded in experience and excellence. Pride, on the other hand, is flimsy and unmerited. You are a wonderful creation, but that doesn’t mean you are inherently worth more than those around you.
  1. Look to peers before asking favors of leadership. Before you ask for or expect something, be honest with yourself. Does the value that you are bringing truly match up with the rewards or income that you are expecting? Look to others who are offering similar value before you ask for special favors—but be careful not to use comparison as a foundation for entitlement (i.e. “John got X, so why didn’t I get X too?”).
  1. Ask with humility. Whenever you ask anyone to go out of their way to do something for you, be conscious of how you posture yourself when you ask. If you come across as expectant, people will often hesitate to do you any favors. If you come across humble and grateful, they are much more likely to respond with a willingness to help.
  1. Respond to disappointments with grace. There will always be times when we don’t get what we want. Whether it’s witnessing a beloved project crash and burn or not being offered that well-deserved promotion, we will face failure and disappointments. When these issues arise, be careful how you respond and to whom you direct your criticism or negativity. If those around you think that you blame them for your personal failings, they will be much less likely to help you succeed in the future.

Look first at yourself and the ways that you can improve. If you still believe that others are at least partially to blame, make a point to communicate all future expectations to them without passing blame. Avoid becoming angry or bitter in the face of disappointment. This makes you look spoiled and childish and will cause others to lose respect for you.

  1. Be grateful. Brené Brown, acclaimed author and life coach, once said, “The difference between privilege and entitlement is gratitude.” Whenever someone does something nice for you, your response should always be appreciation. Go the extra mile to show that you are grateful and honored by what others do for you.

Whether it’s giving advice on how to advance your career or picking up ice on the way to an event, never let a kind deed go without a “thank you.” Being grateful will make you a happier, more content person.

LTM Challenge

Look at your interactions with your coworkers, leaders, and even your friends. Do you sometimes feel as though you are not getting what is owed to you? Analyze the situation. Is this a result of an unhealthy relationship, where you’re not being seen or appreciated, or is it because of prideful expectation?

You reap what you sow. Before you expect a harvest, first look into the soil to ensure that what you’re sowing is adequate to achieve your goals.

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