This isn’t a how to column on what you need to do to become a successful business owner. It’s about how you can become a better person in business and in life. There are two types of people in the world: owners and victims. Owners (defined as not just those who own a business), take full responsibility of their actions and energy. They use their internal spirit to invent and reinvent who they are. Victims think themselves into it – this condition is not hereditary. These individuals become pessimistic of everyone and everything they are challenged by not by the internal spirit but by external influences. Pessimistic thinking leads to burnout and depression. Ever hear: “This is the way we have always done it?” The person that made the statement is a victim. I called these people the “working wounded.” They offer nothing but negativity and drain the positive energy from those around them. The status quo is miserable for them, yet all they do is complain about it and offer no alternatives. Most business owners, CEOs and entrepreneur’s refuse to be victims. They recognize that they can be anyone, or anything, they want. They are people on a mission. They are going places. To change how you see yourself, how you feel about yourself and how you go about doing things, you have to tap into your spirit. To have spirit, you have to be optimistic. The good news is that optimism can be learned. Optimism makes you more effective at what you do, and what you aspire to do, or be. Owners will change their personality to meet commitments; victims break commitments to keep their personality. If you have read this far, you have just gone through the first step in the process. The first step was for you to determine if you were a victim or an owner. The second step is to ask yourself if you have changed much since you were in junior high. We form our significant personalities then. Think if, and how much, you have changed since then. The third step in the process is to set goals. Ask: What goals are most important to me? How much time to I give them? Who are the people most important to me? How much time to I give them? Having a desire for something is everything. If you have enough of it, you can do anything you want. What is it you desire? The fourth step is to start using the right words. Words are powerful influencers of how we think and act. People can use language to describe the lives they currently lead and others use language to create and build the lives they want to enjoy. Owners say “can” a lot. Victims say “can’t”. Owners have goals, projects and challenges, while victims have “problems, hassles and nightmares”. Owners see what they can get from a situation. Victims try to “get through it.” The owner “wants to.” Victims use the word “should” often, as in “I should do that.” Should means it will never happen. Unless a victim is forced to complete the specific action, it just won’t happen. And if you do, you won’t do a good job at it. Why is that? Because you didn’t “want to.” Owners are busy. Victims are “swamped.” Swamped does not exist in the physical world. It is a frame of mind; picture being swamped. It is a very negative vision. I have often had the occasion to meet with people whose eyes glow from passion, and happiness, because they use the words of owners and they act the same way. I also have met people who are victims. They have chosen to stay as they are, and if they own a business it’s usually in trouble. The only thing that can get it back from the abyss is for the owner to first reinvent themselves and then work on turning around their business. No matter where you are, no matter how difficult the situation you always have two choices: stay the same, or change things. That is the fifth step, which is not just to choose to change, but to actually change. It may be difficult, but it is always possible. And by making the change, one becomes an owner and leaves victimhood behind. Ken Keller is an executive coach who works with small and midsize B2B company owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs. He facilitates formal top executive peer groups for business expansion, including revenue growth, improved internal efficiencies, and greater profitability. Please contact him at Ken.Keller@StrategicAdvisoryBoards.com. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.