Attitude of Entitlement is Poison!

We will keep crying until all our demands are met!


Several things that happened this week that prompted the idea for this blog post.

A key happening last week was the UK riots. Street gangs prowling the streets, causing destruction, pain and rampant looting in their path. One of the key insights from the looting – sports stores (looted), electronics stores (looted), street gangsta hip clothing stores (looted), bookstores (LEFT UNTOUCHED, hmmmm….I think I see the problem!). The commentary from the newspapers suggest that it is a huge social issue because of the entitlement culture that is cultivated by the British welfare system giving out unchecked handouts and benefits to a generation of the unemployed that is now unemployable because of the spiral of low education, hopelessness, lack of proper authority or leadership in the communities.

One of the key “hot” (pun fully intended) topics in Singapore is a report on a mainland Chinese family, a recent arrival, complaining to the equivalent to a town council about their neighbour’s curry cooking. The mediator from the town council asked the curry cooking resident to stop cooking curry when the anti-curry fan is home. This caused an uproar in this country and heated words were splashed all over facebook, twitter as curry in Singapore is THE staple dish that cuts across all the races in Singapore/ South East Asia – Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian. Which got me thinking. Why would the new resident in Singapore, feel entitled to tell their neighbour to stop cooking curry? After all, curry is the local Singaporean choice of food.

Different degrees of complexity of entitlement thinking for the above 2 cases.

Entitlement is an attitude of “I’m owed” or “I deserve” or “if I don’t get what I want now, I will make things hard for everyone…”. Entitlement is a poisonous, self-serving attitude that creates negativity, bitterness and resentment in the people who feel entitled. I see it everywhere, at home, at work, in our communities. Even my relationship with my own family members is not spared, we are all guilty of it in one form or another.

Here are some other examples:

  • “I have X years experience, so I deserve higher pay”
  • “If I don’t get a promotion now, I am changing jobs”
  • “I deserve respect”
  • “Why don’t people listen to me?”
  • “Why do I have to do this? It is below my level”
  • “Why do I have to put up with this inconvenience?”
  • “Why are the trains so crowded?, I can never get a seat at peak hour”
  • “Why do I have to work so hard, in some countries, they leave the office at 5pm”
  • “Why is the government not giving incentives for XXXX?”
  • “This is not fair, I want what he/she has”
  • “My kids owe me obedience after all that I have done for them”

Here’s the cold, hard truth. No one owes you a living, no one must provide you all that you want, nothing is a birthright. We are not entitled to anything in life, we have to earn it, work for it. That is the mindset of a mature person. We don’t deserve anything unless we prove that we can be responsible for the privilege/benefit.

While we are not owed anything, it is fine to want the good, fine things in life. That should be the positive driver to propel us to excel in whatever we are doing – at home, at work, socially etc…

  • Want a seat on the train? Get up earlier and avoid the rush hour. Or buy a car.
  • Can’t afford a car to drive to work because of the price of the car, petrol, gas, insurance, parking in the city? Then catch the train and….oh, and get up earlier so you get a seat 🙂
  • Want your kids to respect you? Spend time listening, connecting with them and assisting them with their growing up issues without insisting on your way or the highway all the time. Our kids never asked to be born. We created them. They owe us nothing. It’s their life. We as parents are here to protect and guide.
  • Want that bonus? Then work smart, hard and make your targets and be eligible for that bonus you have been aiming for.
  • Want a promotion? Work hard to prove that you are able to handle the current responsibility you have been entrusted to.
  • Can’t afford the things you want now? Either put off that desire or compromise for what you can afford now. Trade up when you move up in life.

To change that entitlement attitude, we must learn to cultivate humbleness, gratefulness and thankfulness for the people that we love and all the good  we have been blessed with.

Photo courtesy of google images


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