What are you willing to die for? The answer is a big clue to your level of ownership. Your personal guarantee says a lot about your level of accountability over the things you say you care about. What you are willing to protect is what you are willing to own.
My Uncle Bob lied about his age to get into the Navy. For him it would have been a no brainer to go to war. It was his country to protect and his friends and family to keep safe from the threat of an authoritarian madman. Many men who left the Canadian shores did not return. Robert Husband was lucky. He came home. And he did not squander the privilege of his freedom. He continued to protect his country and keep his friends and family safe.
My parents divorced when my brother and I were very young. My mother pulled the pin as an act of courage and self-respect, rather than carry on the charade "for the sake the children." She took ownership of her life and we grew up with her example.
Every decision has consequences to reckon with.
One of the consequences of her decision was a lot more time spent with our uncles in the Lake-of-the-woods. She would leave us with her brothers for weeks at a time. Bob's houseboat was a second home for endless summers all over the lake.
On one occasion miles up the lake, we encountered a derelict old boat beached on a remote island. As a curious lad, I wanted to explore the old corpse and my uncle was happy to comply. The gunwale was taller than he was. He tossed me blindly up and over the rail and I landed in a nest of wasps larger than I was. Bob was in the boat and had me out in seventy feet of water before I realized what happened. The swarm tore off chunks of his flesh as he used his body to shield mine. I did not suffer a single bite. He didn't have to think twice or even once. It was a no brainer. I was his nephew. That's the kind of man any mom would want to leave her child with and the kind of man any Country would want standing between them and facism.
What price are you willing to pay to honor your duty?
The promise of safety of those in his care was my uncle's personal guarantee–a solemn promise he was more than willing to lay his life down for. When I think about concepts like "ownership", "accountability" and "duty", part of the modern lexicon of performance management within organizations, I think of him. Ownership is not anything a manager can compel in his team. It is up to every leader to walk that talk and lead by example. Bob is an example long after he spent his life on guard. He may be gone in the physical sense. But he’s not forgotten. He’s over there at the dooins.