One of the most powerful concepts we can teach our kids is that they have influence over the events of their life. This isn’t so say that everything will always go the way they want. After all, “influence” is different than “control”. We can’t control our lives and the world around us. But we can have an impact. We can nudge things in a particular direction. And that’s what our Core Value of “Own the Outcome” is about.
People tend to have one of two reactions when we talk about owning the outcome. The first is that an outcome is generally a bad thing – that owning an outcome means dealing with the punishment for a mistake. The idea is that the outcome is something imposed upon us for a failure on our part. On the other hand, there’s a point of view that outcomes can be good. We can celebrate success when we work really hard and reach a goal.
Either approach can work at motivating us. One motivates us away from a certain negative outcome… “If you don’t eat your broccoli, you’re grounded and can’t watch TV”. The other motivates us toward something… “If you do eat your broccoli, you can watch your favorite show on TV”. Whether we view an outcome as negative or positive is in how each of us frames it. This says more about our own unique motivation and view of events than it does about the outcomes themselves.
Really, outcomes are neutral. They’re Switzerland. The definition of outcome is: “the way a thing turns out, a consequence. A result or effect of an action or condition”.
The definition doesn’t address good or bad. Outcomes aren’t out to get us or to make us feel good. An outcome is just the way things turn out as a result of certain conditions and actions. It’s simple cause and effect. Physics. A universal law. Action leads to outcome.
If you want a certain outcome all you have to do is take the right actions under the right conditions and Pow! the natural result is the outcome! Take action and the result follows. Sometimes we all (and especially kids) need some help connecting the dots between cause and effect. And once we make that connection, the next hurdle is owning the actions we can take to influence the outcome.
When we own something, it’s ours. Ownership implies responsibility, accountability, and influence over something. When we own something, we can change it. This brings to mind the Serenity Prayer:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
I’m also a fan of this rhyme:
For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.
There are certainly some things that are outside of our circle of influence, but by teaching and living “Own The Outcome” we can help our kids realize that they have far more influence to make a positive difference in the world around them than they think they do.