Protagonism: to occupy a central and crucial position in a phenomenon or action.
Ownership: objective responsibility within a project.

Personal responsibility is not just about roles and competences but, above all, it is a matter of individual perception. It originates from the feeling that you are the maker behind the choices determining your situation, either positive or negative. Such perception originates from the feeling of having had (and having managed to create) several alternatives to choose from.

The opposite of sense of protagonism is feeling imprisoned in a situation, feeling you don’t have any alternatives or that others are making important decisions on your behalf. The self-empowerment approach hypothesizes that such situations (in which actually there are no alternatives) are much less likely to happen than we believe. Rather, it would be more useful to think at the price for each alternative, in order to make an informed, free choice and to act as protagonists of our own story.

Common sense often gives the term “protagonism” a negative connotation (e.g. to mean that someone is constantly seeking attention), however, we use it to refer to the extent to which one claims the power to affect reality and feels he/she can have a direct influence, either positive or negative, on the context around him/her.

Protagonism is one of the key psychological attitudes in self-empowerment because it leads one to believe he/she is the main player in his/her own growth and the maker of his/her path: sense of protagonism, therefore, helps people focus on their own desires and goals, detect their resources more easily, look inside for the energy and strength to change and evolve.

Such a feeling is connected to the concept of ownership, that is, to our ability to be protagonists of projects or play key roles inside (and outside) our companies. In other words, the concept of ownership implies being actively involved in accomplishing the results and taking on the responsibilities rather than focusing on the role (and the shortcomings) played by others. Above all, ownership means asking oneself the following question: “What can I personally do?”.

One last distinction pertains the difference between feeling protagonists, owning and being responsible for something and feeling guilty (for example if we don’t achieve a goal) and blaming ourselves: our sense of protaganism is fostered if we take a balanced stance towards ourselves rather than if we underestimate or criticize ourselves while limiting our ability to open up.

Here’s a little reflection.
Imagine you are telling someone about your work history. Let your words flow, do not think over it too much.

  • What would you say? What words would you use? How many times did you start using the passive form “I was contacted, asked, involved, chosen, …forced?”
  • How many times did you start your description using an active form: “I chose… I asked…I tried…”
  • How many times do you feel you just responded to an organizational need? When was it?
  • How many times do you feel you actually made the difference and influenced the situation? When was it?
  • What resources and qualities did you use in those occasions?

Most times your work history is the result of the encounter between an organizational need and a personal choice/inclination.

It would be interesting to understand what you focused on in your narration and to determine the personal resources you feel to have used when you clearly acted as a protagonist.
Now write the next chapter…

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