What Am I Entitled To?

Key Point:  you and I are not entitled to a darn thing that we don’t go out and earn. It really doesn’t matter much what we did before, how hard we worked, what we deserve, or what is fair. I read a great quote the other day; “the reward of merit is not life’s purpose.”

Entitlement: (n.) the belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.

Aldous Huxley wrote, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

I’ve been the CEO of a company for the last eight years. The company I was leading was acquired and now I’m thinking about what I want to do next. What I know for certain is that my past merit entitles me to nothing. No one in my network, which is pretty extensive, is waking up in the morning wondering what they are going to do for me. Sitting in front of the mirror and meditating over my life’s purpose, while perhaps useful, is not going to bring me anything either. I do believe we attract people to us based on our mind set. But I do not believe a Ferrari is going to show up because I pin a picture of it on my monitor.

Here’s what I have to do. There are problems out there in the world. I need to go find one or two and provide a way to fix the heck out of them. Many people are told to pursue happiness and joy. However, I tend to agree with David Brooks, the well known author and New York Times columnist, who wrote the following recently:

“But, of course, when you read a biography of someone you admire, it’s rarely the things that made them happy that compel your admiration. It’s the things they did to court unhappiness — the things they did that were arduous and miserable… It’s excellence, not happiness, that we admire most, and we discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It is to lose yourself.”

Character Move:

  1. You are entitled to what you earn, nothing more. Accept it.
  2. Go find problems and lose yourself in solving them with excellence.
  3. Making ourselves, others, and situations better is the purpose and reward of life.
  4. Accept that the reward of merit is not life’s purpose.

No entitlement in The Triangle,



  1. Paul says:

    Surprised about this news, but it happens often. If no one in your network is thinking about you, even if just an email or phone call, it means it was an illusion of a network. I am always thinking about the professionals I know and work with, and many think about me and at least offer to help when I need it. Any other types I don’t need in my network, they are just decoration for LinkedIn.

    You will always be a fascinating pro regardless of what you do next.

    Best wishes,


  2. The entitlement mentality gets in the way for all of us, whether at the level of expectation we have for our family members or the way we act as a nation in the world at the other end of the scale. In a borderless world, entitlement is very akin to delusion 😉 We are moving to a world of performance in advance of reward rather than reward first or worse, reward as a birthright…

  3. Erin says:

    Lorne, nice post. I also like Frederick Buechner’s perspective on purpose, he says purpose is that place where your deep sense of gladness meets the world’s needs. Wide open while providing some guidance to getting on the right path.

    Very best, Erin

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