Whatever the cause of a sense of entitlement, the end result is that the entitled person believes that he or she doesn’t have to play by the rules of responsibility, ownership, and commitment. And the end result of entitlement is predictable: The entitled person feels good and lives badly, while those around him feel bad about the situation but have more successful relationships and careers, according to John Townsend in his book The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way.

The common characteristics of entitlement identified by the author include:

  • An attitude of being special
  • An attitude of being owed, of deserving something
  • A refusal to accept responsibility
  • A denial of one’s impact on others

While it is usually fairly easy to diagnose someone else as a sufferer of entitlement disease, it is often harder to admit that you are suffering the disease yourself. The book is ostensibly written to show readers how to help others who are stuck in an entitlement rut, but it also provides a helpful range of ideas for identifying and dealing with your own failings. The various chapters discuss motivation, discipline and structure, creating a helpful self-image, assuming responsibility, doing hard things first, keeping inconvenient commitments, respecting the future, admitting errors, facing up to pain, and taking meaningful risks.

I am not confident that entitlement can ever really be “cured”, but I think that this book provides a range of useful things you can do to help manage the disease.

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