Be an Owner, Not an Occupier

Enjoy two new “fast and fun” QBQ! interviews and a 12 minute podcast with Dave Ramsey:

One definition of the trendy word “occupy” is to “dwell in a space.” Too often, we humans do this—we just take up space.

Sometimes, we just take up … time.

Time, as we all know, can be measured in years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, or seconds. But I like the word—the unit of time—called a “moment.”

It’s certainly a common description of time. We say, “Just a moment!” “I’ll be with you in a moment!” or “Please wait one moment.” Or, if we demonstrate quickness of mind or humor, or we act fast, decisively, and perform deftly, we are said to be “in the moment.” We are encouraged to “seize the moment.”

Moments are the essence of the adage, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.”

But it is easy to miss a moment. And what we’re really missing is the opportunity to own the moment. The truth is, opportunities come in moments and in moments there can be opportunity. When we fail to own the opportunities that come along, we diminish ourselves because—in that moment—we likely served less, contributed little, added no value, and eschewed practicing personal accountability.

On the flip side, when we simply OCCUPY a moment, we miss our chance to give, to help someone, to solve a problem. Occupiers of moments are often bystanders, watchers, observers. Quite honestly, sometimes they are complainers, whiners, blamers. Not always … I said sometimes.

Bottom line, I just think it’s better to own moments than to occupy them.

In Chapter One of the QBQ! book, there is story about Jacob, the Rock Bottom Restaurant server, who, as he was heading to the kitchen weighed down by a loaded tray of dirty dishes, spotted me, stopped, and met my needs. He didn’t think the thoughts of an Occupier such as, Not my department. Not my job. Not my problem.

He thought the thoughts of an Owner: I care. I want to serve others. I will be my best today.

Maybe a tad pedestrian, but because in the pedestrian we find the practical, here are the kinds of things people do when they own a moment:

  • A manager stops debating with a staff member, trying to win a point, and pauses, saying, “You know, I think there’s more to this than I’m aware of. Can you share with me what’s really on your mind?”
  • A parent, after instructing a child to stop engaging in a specific behavior, actually follows through, preventing disobedience and earning the child’s respect. (We call this “strong parenting” in Parenting the QBQ Way)
  • A salesperson on a sales call stops blathering on about the product and asks the customer, “What problems are you experiencing?” and “How can I best help you?”
  • A driver on the road responds to another driver—who just committed a mental error—with a rare-in-today’s-society friendly wave and a smile.
  • A spouse arriving home from a long, tough slog at work rises above, saying to the other, “Tell me about your day.”
  • A sibling, friend, or co-worker, when told by another that their words or actions hurt, stops and asks, “I am so sorry, what was it that I said or did?” instead of lashing out with defensiveness, justification, and blame.
  • A twentysomething with a cell phone, good car, and some money in his pocket stops to help a stranger on a Colorado highway at midnight as all the other cars drive on by.

Now, I am not recommending anyone engage in that last one and there’s no need to email me about the risk. I understand. But when Michael, the only Miller son, informed us the next morning that he’d stopped to help a woman stranded in a decade old vehicle with only $10 in her purse, secured a tow truck for her by phone with his debit card, and waited for help to arrive—I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of him.

Choosing to own a moment—not just occupy one—is really an outstanding way to live. At its core, it’s what personal accountability is all about, asking The Question Behind the Question (the QBQs): “What can I do to own this moment?” and “How can I right now make a difference?”

Don’t be an Occupier. Be an Owner. Only then can we be outstanding!


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