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Why Owning Your Decisions Is Critical to Your Success As An Entrepreneur If you do what everyone tells you do to, you'll end up with exactly what they want — not what you want. Take these steps to ensure you're following the right path.

By Brendan P. Keegan Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • Follow these five steps to ensure you go after what matters most to you and your business.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the biggest gifts I've had in my life has been my mentors. They've given me direction and advice that has gotten me where I am today. When I say there's value in listening to others, I truly mean it.

But there's a big difference between taking great advice from people you respect and collapsing under interpersonal or social "shoulds." This might look like getting the job your parents want you to get or following a career path you can't stand because everyone tells you it'll make you financially secure. Fearless leadership requires you to own what you want with no apologies.

What it means to own your "wants"

Owning your wants as a leader is synonymous with authenticity and self-awareness. It doesn't require you to completely disregard traditions or the paths others have taken to find success. You can still deeply respect those. It just means you understand yourself enough to know what will fulfill you — and take accountability for obtaining that fulfillment for yourself. If you must go in a different direction than others to be happy or get what you need, don't hesitate.

Let's pause on that idea of self-accountability for a moment. Some people make the mistake of interpreting self-accountability to mean that they must do everything independently. But no one successful has known everything or been able to do everything. The most successful people know their limits and are grateful to take help and delegate where possible. So, as you seek to take ownership of your true desires and goals, accept that it's okay to build a team that can support you.

Related: How to Give Constructive Feedback That Actually Empowers Others

Why taking ownership is so hard

Owning what you want can be hard — other people can be closed-minded or have their own goals. They can try everything to convince you that the path you want to walk is foolish, simply because they haven't walked it themselves or don't want you to get in their way by rocking the boat. Their efforts to dissuade you can do a serious number on your confidence.

Then there are the logistical hurdles. How will you pay $100,000 when all you've got is $50,000? What if the certification you need isn't offered for another year and requires you to relocate? Some will never own their dream because they don't know how to overcome those problems.

Finally, being self-aware is a rare gem — even though 95% of people think they're self-aware, only 10-15% are. Maybe people haven't had the chance to explore and figure themselves out. Or, perhaps they're unwilling to break out of familiar habits, get feedback or reflect on what they believe. Either way, without self-awareness, it's hard for a person to identify where they want to go and have conviction about that decision.

Related: How Listening Can Help You Build a Culture of Trust in Your Business

How to own what you want

Looking at the three main issues that hold people back from owning what they want, five steps can help you go after what matters to you:

  • Connect with yourself. Techniques like mindfulness, journaling, trying new hobbies or getting feedback can help you discover who you are. Once you have a better sense of self, it's easier to identify what will be meaningful or beneficial to you.
  • Define what you want. Do you build a legacy as a CEO over decades or move on every few years? Does being wealthy mean $100,000 a year or $1 million? The more clearly defined your goal is, the easier it is to understand the responsibility you're taking on, assess what's realistic and develop ways to measure progress.
  • Believe you deserve to achieve it. It's common for people to get wrapped up in doubts or shame. When something good happens, they feel unworthy and mentally point out others who should get what they want instead. Accepting the belief you deserve to achieve as part of connecting with yourself silences this negative inner critic and the naysayers who might try to keep you stuck. The more justified you feel in pursuing the goal, the less likely you are to abandon it.
  • Figure out the steps necessary to achieve what you want. Most logistical issues can be figured out if you break them down into smaller action points. Mentors and teammates can help you consider alternatives and get the necessary information to move sensibly from one small point to another.
  • Take action. Even the most brilliantly broken-down plan won't amount to much unless you do what's on it. Face your fears and bravely confront each step, trusting you can sort through any bumps that might come up along the way.

Related: 7 Tips on How to Manifest Success in Your Business

Taking ownership is not easy, but it makes your soul rich

Owning what you want admittedly is no cakewalk — doing your own thing and swimming against the current takes bravery. But taking on the risks of pressing upstream increases the odds that, in the end, you'll be fulfilled. Because innovation and competitiveness almost always ride on the heels of a dream someone claimed and took pride in, don't compare yourself. Just be honest about why you crave the path you do and take it.

Brendan P. Keegan

Chairman, CEO and President of Merchants Fleet

Brendan P. Keegan serves as Chairman, CEO and President at Merchants Fleet and was recently named the World’s Most Innovative CEO by CEO World Awards. Keegan is also the silver winner of Executive of the Year by Best in Biz Awards and a Stevie Awards bronze winner by American Business Awards.

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