My sister-in-law sent me this article from the newspaper in Vail. Even though envy filled my heart when I saw the cool mountain temperature posted at the top of the newspaper (highs in the low 70’s!!), I checked with Mr. Norton to see if he would mind my sharing his thoughts on entitlement. I especially like his “learned helplessness” phrase considering the fact that just this morning, one of my kids actually said, “But I don’t know how to put a waffle in the toaster”. Hope you enjoy :)

Thanks Michael for sharing … and

thanks for walking the road with me.


Vail Daily column: Are we contributing to empowerment or entitlement?

Dr. Denis Waitley in his book “The Dragon and the Eagle” shares his insights on the topic of empowerment versus entitlement. The book is a wonderful contrast between the Chinese culture, “The Dragon,” and the United States culture, “The Eagle” and how the two are similar yet different in many ways.The point he makes is that here in the United States we have moved from empowerment to entitlement, where as in the Chinese culture he views their people moving from entitlement to one of empowerment.

In thinking about this, I started to remember all of the ways that I contributed personally to the “entitlement” attitudes of my own children. Sometimes I would help more on homework and projects instead of patiently providing guidance and direction. But you see I was in a rush, I had more important things to do. What did I create, learned helplessness? No, I created entitlement.

I defended my children in too many situations, seeking special favors and making irrational requests in the spirit of competing with the other parents and children. In hindsight, it was a huge mistake. I grew up in a “nobody handed me nothin’” environment. But I believe this was my greatest asset as I had to learn on my own, work for what I wanted, and become empowered in my personal pursuit of success.

Fast forward to our business lives. Because it is not just our children who seem to feel entitled, there are grown-ups, businessmen and businesswomen who are also afflicted with the entitlement disease. And how many of us are causing this, doing the same thing for the people that work for us as we do or did for our children? Do we find it easier to just do the job ourselves because it will be done right, on time, and under budget? Is it less stressful for us to just “do it for them” instead of taking the time to teach, coach, and mentor? Guilty as charged here. I have made that mistake too over my career, but thankfully have slowly started changing my ways. Delegation has become my mantra.

If we are going to make the move, moving from entitlement back to empowerment we have to practice patience, tolerance and trust.

School will start soon, most vacations for the working folks will end, and within a few short months the tourist season will hit the high country. Now is the perfect time to stop all or at least most of our “doing” for our children or our co-workers, employees, or sometimes even our bosses. Let’s step away from creating learned helplessness and learned incompetence by becoming really, really, good at sharing our knowledge and expertise in a way that will empower all of those around us without jumping in to do it for them.

Are you feeling entitled or empowered? I would love to hear your thoughts at and let’s make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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