Sunday, May 13, 2018

Voice, choice and ownership

This is going to be a personal post, not about technology.  If you're not interested in personal stuff you might like to skip this one.  I'll be writing a post about getting and keeping connected using technology after this, so you might want to fast-forward to that.

Voice, choice and ownership have been in my mind for around a year now.  I started thinking about them as part of a design challenge to re-envision technology at ASB last year, and of course agency, covering all 3 of these, is at the heart of the workshops I've been designing for the IB.  Yet at the same time over the past year I've felt powerless in my own personal life.   Circumstances outside of my own control are driving me out of India.  I've been wracked with guilt about my inability to provide adequate care for my mother who has dementia.  In less than a month now I'll be leaving India and starting the journey home.

Reading on in The Subtle Art ... I came across this:
If you're miserable in your current situation, chances are it's because you feel like some part of it is outside your control - that there's a a problem you have no ability to solve, a problem that was somehow thrust upon you without your choosing.  
When we feel that we're choosing our problems, we feel empowered.  When we feel that our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable.
What this post is about is choice.  We often don't have any control over what happens, but we do have control over how we respond - in fact even not responding is a choice we make.  Basically it's like this:  we are responsible for our experiences - we are always choosing - we have ownership.

I had a bad day on Friday.  In the afternoon one of my colleagues said to me "You have to take back control" and it's true.  In The Subtle Art the phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" gets turned around.   Now it's "with great responsibility comes great power".   The more we accept responsibility, the more ownership we have, and the more power we have over our lives.  Accepting responsibility and ownership is the first step to solving a problem.

So here's another thing that I've been thinking about:  there is a difference between fault and responsibility.  Fault is something that is in the past - those choices have already been made.  Responsibility is the present - it's to do with the choices you are currently making.  It doesn't do any good to blame someone else for your situation - they might have caused the situation (fault) but they are not now responsible for it.  You get to choose.  You get to see things and react to them the way you want.

Life is like a game of cards.  We all get dealt different ones, and some get better cards than others.  But the game is played by the choices you make about using the cards you have in your hand, the risks and opportunities you choose to take, and the consequences you choose to live with.

Photo Credit: JeffGamble Flickr via Compfight cc


  1. a wonderful, insightful, and yet related to the IB post... You are a genius. You inspire me. To thinker deeper. To stay curious longer. To pause and think, and think again about the choices I can make, how I am in control of my reactions to the cards I get in the game of life.
    Wish you all the best.... you shine your own light everywhere you go, and you sine liht for us too, who have met you, physically and online :-)

  2. Thank you! I often hesitate to write personal posts (I try to weave in the tech and PYP wherever I can) yet I think that people do like the personal as well - perhaps being vulnerable and sharing that makes me seem more human to those people who have never met me. I was doing a workshop earlier this year and was talking about the decisions I was making about going home and caring for mum. Afterwards all sorts of people came to talk to me about similar decisions they had made about their elderly relatives too. I came to realise that being vulnerable is good - and that if you can do that then people will come forward and offer support. I think another thing is that it is important to talk about your values. Family is definitely more important than career!