The AD Way: Own It

The AD Way: Own It

November 12, 2018

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved cars. 

My wife would say that I’m obsessed, and she’s probably right. But the way I see it (or perhaps how I rationalize it to her), there are many worse things that I could spend our money on. 

My first was a 1965 Fastback Mustang, in Candy Apple Red. Today it would probably be worth a lot of money, but in 1976 it was a rusty hunk of junk, with bad tires and too many miles. Still, I loved that car. I’ll never forget the first time I drove it into the student parking lot at Massapequa High School. It felt special; I earned this, it belongs to me, I OWN IT! 

Ownership is a powerful thing. It comes with a sense of pride that leads to a feeling of responsibility. We protect and nurture the things that we own; we care about them, invest in them and take the time to do things the right way. I polished that Mustang every day, and forty years later it still holds a special place in my heart. But ownership in business is usually different. Most of us don’t actually own the business, we work for someone else. And often we are part of a larger team that may ultimately share responsibility for the overall result. 

But while responsibility can be shared, accountability is always personal. In business, ownership may not be literal in terms of owning the company. But for some, ownership is clearly their state of mind. Successful people OWN IT every day. They take pride in their work and never make excuses. They have a strong sense of quality and are willing to do whatever it takes to see things through. They are creative, resourceful, and understand that their output may be critical for someone else to do their job. In my experience, accountability is probably the single biggest differentiator between successful and unsuccessful teams. 

When people don’t act like owners, they become passive and don’t accept personal responsibility. In fact, that’s when things can really go wrong. They go into spectator mode, and watch as things start to fail. Worse yet, they may focus most of their energy on explaining why things aren’t working rather than trying to solve the problem. Conversely, owners step into solution mode. They figure out what’s going wrong and try to fix it. They don’t wait for someone else to solve the problem. They grab a wrench, and get under the hood. 

We are fortunate to have many such people working at AD. They care about our Members and Suppliers; they focus on the solution, not the problem; they OWN IT every single day. You can always count on these people to deliver on commitments and to never question if something is really their job. We all know who these people are, and frankly, I’d like to consider myself to be one of them. But I also know there’s always room for improvement. Being a passenger is always easier than actually driving the car. 

But the real magic only happens when we OWN IT.