Putting in a star performance

by Amanda Knight  

[Biodata and picture of contributor will be found by clicking here]


Ownership.  A word that is used a lot in business; something that is expected of employees by their leaders and managers (they get frustrated if it doesn't happen).  Equally, employees so often avoid taking ownership, for a variety of reasons; most commonly because they are scared to do so, again for all sorts of reasons.  

But what exactly is it?  How do you know when to take it, and when not to take it?  And if you have taken it, how do you know if you've taken enough, or indeed, too much?  

Let's take a look at the root of the word itself ~ "own".  A typical dictionary definition would read, "…belonging or peculiar to; individual; not belonging to another…".  So when I own something, it belongs to me; it does not belong to another.  

Transferring this to ownership in the workplace then, what belongs to you personally at work, or is peculiar to you, and no one else?  

Your job, your ideas, your salary package?  Well, your job and your salary package can be taken away from you through redundancy or dismissal, so your job and its benefits package belong to your employer.  And if you are employed (rather than self-employed), legally your employer owns the intellectual property that you create through your employed work.  

So what do you bring to the table?  Agreement to perform a particular role to an agreed set of standards.  

Your performance is your contribution, what you give; this is your part of the exchange.  This is demonstrated through what you do, through your behaviour.  

So when your boss asks you to take ownership of a project, he or she is actually asking you to own your own performance; to have 'star billing', rather than be a second-rate act.


How can I be a star?  

Actually, you are already a star, although perhaps you don’t yet realise it!  

If you own your own performance, and put 100% effort into being all that you can be during that performance, then you are experiencing being a star!  So how can you ‘own’ your performance 100%?  

First, you have to identify your potential, your human potential.  How can you 'be all that you can be'?  

Of course, that's not as easy as it sounds to identify.  After all, what is 'potential'?; how do you define the ideal human experience?  

Just recognising that perhaps the aim of life is to create the ideal human experience, is half the battle.  This takes us out of the mindset of seeing life as a struggle, as something to survive.  It puts us in the driving seat; we decide where we want to go.   We become the creator of our life, rather than a victim to it.  

Try this thought-provoking exercise.  Think about where you are now.  How well do the following statements describe your life currently?  


YOUR LIFE PERFORMANCE ~ Being all that you can be!

Assess how true each statement is for you out of a score from

0 ~ 100

Sense of Self

I have the simple awareness that by the pure fact of my existence I am an entity taking up space


Self Belief

I know the point of my existence, why I am here.  I want to do and experience things, I have gifts I want to use and share with others, I want to make a contribution to the world


Your Purpose

I have identified specifically what I want to do, my gifts and/or the contribution I want to make


Self Worth

I accept I have a purpose, gifts and/or a contribution. I know how much my purpose is worth to me and that it is as important as that of anyone else



I know what my life will look like when I am achieving my purpose



I know how I will keep focused on my vision



I know how I will maintain the enthusiasm and commitment to achieving my goals



I am excited by opportunities that are presented to me.  I am open to the unknown, the unfamiliar, and the unexpected, and I can release control of how things will happen



I, and the people around me, are able to support each other in achieving our respective goals.   I know when I need to welcome new people into my life



I know how I can guide others towards achieving their purpose.   I am aware of my unique qualities that I can use to inspire others



I feel strong enough, emotionally and physically, to pursue my purpose.  I continually strive to improve my wellbeing so that I can move forward with vitality and enthusiasm



My living and working conditions are conducive to me achieving my goals.  I don't need to make any changes


Self recognition

I know and accept that I am moving towards and achieving my goals.  My life is full of abundance



There is no scoring involved here except in identifying where you are, and are not, achieving your potential.  There may be one or two areas that you feel you really need to work on, there may be several needing a little, or may be a lot, more focus and energy.  But any area that feels incomplete shows where you may be inhibiting your own life performance.  Reflect on your findings and maybe ask a friend or partner to do the exercise too, and share your insights.  

Once you have explored your potential you need to consider what is getting in your way of achieving this.


Understanding your conditioning  

What you do, how you perform, is driven by what you think and feel, and what you value and believe.  Much of this is shaped by people who have influenced us, our experiences, and our need to survive.  

Take a look at this structure of the human identity.  Imagine this is like an onion, layer upon layer, with Personal Awareness at the very inner core, and our Behaviour, underpinned by values and beliefs, as the outer skin, the part that everyone sees.


Personal Awareness

the inner or higher self



the intrinsic nature of the inner or higher self



distinctive attributes or characteristics of the inner or higher self



Conditioning permeates (interferes) impacting:




fundamental truths of the qualities serving as foundations for beliefs



firmly held opinions based upon principles



standards set for behaviours, forged by beliefs



ways of thinking and/or feeling (paradigm) that drive behaviours, developed from beliefs



specific ways of acting based on values and attitudes



resulting in

the propensity to operate from ‘I’ or ‘i’*



© Amanda Knight and Marilyn Latcham 2001-2003



There are two outcomes to this human structure depending on the level of conditioning that we remain susceptible to – we either operate from the domain of ‘I’ or from the realm of ‘i’*.  ‘I’ represents a personality driven by the need to survive; ‘i’ depicts a spiritual existence, where there is a strong sense of self, but no ‘i’ is greater than any other.  

Operating from 'I' means that we are delivering a conditioned performance; our personality (from the Greek word 'persona' meaning 'mask') gives the appearance of being the true person, but is not actually a true reflection of our Essence.  This is because our underlying values, beliefs and attitudes have been affected by conditioning from external sources, ie. the values, beliefs and attitudes of others (eg. parents, teachers, society as a whole, peer groups, and friends).  We then struggle to maintain our own identity, creating ‘I’.  

However, if we are able to operate from 'i', we are free of our conditioning, and are living as our unconditioned higher self.  We have been able to differentiate between our own values and beliefs, and those of others, and are able to project this to the outside world through our behaviour.  Our personality then reflects our higher self.  We have become integrated.  What we express on the outside is a true reflection of how we think, feel and believe in our deepest core.  We know Who We Are.  We do not need to justify our existence to anyone, nor demand the same of others.


It’s a question of integrity  

The words ‘integrate’ and 'integrity' have their roots in the same meaning, 'oneness, wholeness'.  Therefore, when we are able to integrate our Behaviour with our own core, our Essence – when these two become one – we become whole, we act with pure integrity; we operate from 'i'.  There is no gap between our deepest self and the persona we present to the world.  We have removed the mask.  

Think of someone you know who you feel has and demonstrates integrity.  What does that mean to you?  Usually it means that you can trust that person.  He or she will have no sides, and will not be two-faced.  People who have integrity, walk their talk, and stand by their convictions.  This is because those who act with integrity are in touch with their deeper feelings and motivations.  They are more able to stand up for what they value and believe in, rather than 'blow with the wind' of popular beliefs, with the misguided view of remaining popular themselves.  

So your performance, your behaviour, reflects your integrity; how much you are integrating your Behaviour with your Essence.  Taking this back to the workplace then, your performance in the workplace also reflects your integrity, the ability to honour your own values and beliefs.

 As we identified before, owning your performance is to ‘be all that you can be’ in your role; this includes taking ownership of those things that are your responsibility, ie. your own behaviours.  This does not mean that you have to take ownership of responsibilities (behaviours) that belong to others.  In fact you cannot do this.  We cannot change other people.  But we can act as a role model.  

To act or perform with pure integrity takes strength and courage: the courage to identify and stand by your own true principles; to realise and believe in your own unique qualities; to be able to expect the world to be happy with this, or at the very least, to accept that this is Who You Really Are.  

Achieving this in the workplace is not easy; there are many influencers that will question your values, beliefs and behaviours.  You may find that as you reaffirm your own true values and beliefs they do not appear to sit well with the values of the organisation that employs you.  

But if your employer wants you to take ownership, they must understand what this means, what they are asking of you: to ‘be all that you can be’ in your role, which requires the integration of your higher self and your personality.  Performing in this way, you will search for the same in others; as a result, you will seek to understand many things – particularly the decisions and behaviours of others at all levels of the organisation.  Taking ownership means doing it your way …  

… I wonder if that’s what your employer really wants?  


Picture and biodata of author

Amanda Knight is a human development consultant who specialises in Emotional Intelligence (EI) and realising potential. She is an EI practitioner, a development trainer, and a personal coach. She works as Training Manager for Activate who run a centre of excellence for experiential learning in the heart of the New Forest on the south coast of England, and as an EI consultant with the Centre for Applied Emotional Intelligence and the School for Emotional Literacy.

She can be contacted at amanda@polarbear.fslife.co.uk.