Obligation vs Opportunity

Article by Dom Loffredo, MDS Operations Manager

The motivation behind this article was provided by reflection on my first official “Father’s Day” and the opportunity that I have been given as a father.Positive-Thinking

To preview – this article is ultimately about leadership – so please hear me out to the end. One of my favorite questions I have been asked since becoming a dad was “what is one tip you have for other father’s.” Unfortunately, my answer was much shorter originally, but my drive home provide time to think about that question a little deeper. My best tip is this: always view it as an opportunity and not as an obligation. Now, some would argue that as a parent you have both the opportunity and obligation to care for and love your children, however the point of this article is an attitude shift. According to websters dictionary, obligation is defined as “an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound.” I underlined “legally bound” because no one wants to be bound by anything, hence, when we use the word obligation it is almost always associated with a negative thought. On the other hand, when you view fatherhood, motherhood, marriage, leadership or employment as an opportunity you are much more likely to associate positive thoughts with them!

Opportunity-KnocksLet’s look at this from the leadership perspective. If you view your position and its responsibilities as an obligation, a negative attitude will follow. This goes the same from the employee perspective. If you put something on their desk and say “do this now” because its “part of the job” their motivation and productivity will be much lower compared to “I’m giving you the opportunity to do….” That is the difference between obligation and opportunity. As a leader, you convey the difference between these two words by your actions, emotions, and presence.

Personally, I started a list of things I view as an opportunity and others that I view as obligations. The biggest difference I found between the two was my attitude towards the “obligation” items. If you spend a few minutes reflecting on that list and what influences your attitude towards them, even the smallest step today can contribute to paving a better road ahead