Owner or victim - which do you choose?


Having the right mindset is critical to success. And many of us don't realise that the language we use gives so many clues to our mindset, says Hilary Jeanes of PurpleLine Consulting.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” --Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” --Henry Ford

“We make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” --Carlos Castaneda

“Most people go to their graves with their music still in them.” --Oliver Wendell Holmes


Do you listen to the language that people use - including you? I mean really listen...? It tells you such a lot.

Notice the tone of voice in which people say they should do something ... about their job, what they eat, taking exercise. Do they sound motivated, committed and enthusiastic? I’m sure that the answer is ‘no’.

Then there are those who try to do something different (and so give themselves permission to fail). If someone told you they’d try to pay you back the money they owe you, would you count on it? To quote Yoda in Star Wars - ‘Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.’

Steve Chandler writes about this in his book Reinventing Yourself. He calls it the ‘owner/victim’ mindset. Among the many stories he tells is one about when he went into a business to work with the top team. He declined the CEO’s offer of a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each of the seven members of the team and said he would know the three top performers just by meeting with them. And to the CEO’s astonishment, Steve correctly identified them - just by listening to their language.

Victims blame others for what happens in their lives, stay in their comfort zone and frequently use language like ‘try’ and ‘should’. They stifle innovation (the comments on this link are particularly interesting).

Owners, on the other hand, take responsibility for what happens in their lives. They own their response to any situation and see problems as resistance training. If they’re not happy with something, they experiment, do something different to get different results.

Taking ownership is a choice. Choosing ownership gives you power, energy and motivation. That doesn’t mean trampling everyone to get where you want to go or blindly following a course of action. It all comes down to mindset – and having an open mind means you are open to possibility.

Of course, we can all feel like victims at times. But when it happens, think who you are being. Noticing your language gives you a choice. Changing aspects of your life that aren’t working takes practice. Here are nine things successful people do differently.

From my own perspective I find that a change of scenery helps reframe my outlook. If I'm stuck, listening to great music, taking a walk or doing something creative can dramatically change how I am feeling.

What works for you?


Hilary Jeanes is a Leadership Coach and Director of PurpleLine Consulting.  She works with individuals and teams to help them achieve their goals and fulfil their potential. 


Working with you to realise your potential at work by

- getting clear about your strengths and aspirations
- increased confidence and self belief
- identifying and securing your ideal job
- supporting you to thrive and enjoy your life.

Leadership and career coaching for individuals.
Coaching & mentoring for HR leaders and practitioners.
Coaching senior leaders in isolated roles.
Coaching individuals to design the life you'd love on retirement.
Meeting and workshop facilitation.

Hilary Jeanes (trading as PurpleLine Consulting Limited)