Positive Polarity
by Dave Molenda
January 8th, 2015

Am I An Owner or a Renter?

As we welcome in another year, it is a great time to both look back and ahead simultaneously. Take a moment to think about your last year in business and ask yourself these questions:

Did I advance the goals of the organization?

Did I take any risks for the business?

Was I a game player, or a game watcher?

Did I tell others at work, “it’s not my job”?

Was I a job hopper?

Am I here for the long haul, or just passing through?

From a business perspective, there is a big difference between someone who acts like an owner and someone who acts like a renter. Let’s see how this plays out at a local hardware store.

Jimmy always was early for his shift, while Fred always ran in and punched in right at the buzzer. Jimmy got there early for a few reasons. First, there was always something new that came in and he wanted to make sure that he knew about it and was ready to sell it when asked about it. Second, he wanted to invest his time in the company so he could start the day prepared and ready to help the first person who walked in.

Fred was really only interested in one thing … the end of the shift and payday. The owner heard Fred tell customers, “That’s not my department—ask Jimmy,” many times.

Jimmy felt like he had no departments, so anyone could ask him pretty much anything and he would gladly assist. Jimmy saw the job as his career.

For Fred, this was a job that paid his rent.

When no one was in the store, Fred was the first to sit at the counter and stare out the window at the people passing by. Jimmy, on the other hand, was always looking to beautify, straighten and clean up the store. When someone did enter the store, Fred remained seated on his chair while Jimmy always stopped the cleaning or straightening and walked up to the person with a smile and a hearty, “Thanks for stopping in today! How can I help you?”

At the end of the shift, as they both punched the time clock, Fred could not get out of there fast enough, while Jimmy shared with the owner some of the exciting things that happened during the course of the day, saying things like “There were a couple of light bulbs burned out in aisle 5 that I replaced, but now we are down to only 2 bulbs left. Can you order more?” All this was after his shift was over, but for Fred, the clock was punched and he was long gone.

So, when the need for a manager came along, or one person had to be let go, who do you think was fired and who do you think was promoted? Pretty easy to answer this, right?

What about us, right now, today?

As you look ahead to 2015 ask yourself, “Am I a renter, or an owner? Am I more interested in my own existence, or the existence of those around me, like my follow employees, my customers and my company? Do I treat my company like a renter, one who does not treat the company as his own? Or do I want to be part of something bigger? Do I want to be in this for the long haul?”

The answer to these questions and the questions at the beginning will show you if you are a renter of your desk/office or if you are an owner. If you realize that you are a renter and want to change, today is a great day to start making the transition.

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  1. Great blog Dave. Also, alot of this has to do with how the employer treats the employee as well. Does the employer offer profit sharing and bonuses or just an hourly wage?. Is the employee given a degree of empowerment or kept on a very short leash? Thsee factors can greatly affect motivation.

  2. Jim, I agree…Funny how things erode when a relationship is not a two way street. If both parties are willing to cooperate, then life is awesome. I think we can both agree that there are some people in this life that are just takers. My hope in this blog is that just one person wants to be an owner in 2015 that used to rent!

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