Entitlement and the Story of the Ceramic Cup

I am currently reading "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. Thus far, it has been one of the greatest books on leadership I have come across. There is one passage I would love to share. It comes from the former Under Secretary of Defense, who spoke at a conference in consecutive years. The first year, he was given a first class ticket, greeted with a limo at the airport, greeted with a hotel suite, then hand delivered a ceramic cup on a plate for his coffee. The second year, he was no longer in his role as Under Secretary. He flew coach, picked up a taxi at the airport, then checked himself into his hotel room. When he got to the conference and asked for coffee, the attendant pointed to a cart where he could pour his own coffee into a styrofoam cup. That year at the conference, he shared his story, and pointed this out: “It occurs to me that the ceramic cup they gave to me last year, it was never meant for me at all. It was meant for the position I held. I deserve a styrofoam cup.

This is the most important lesson I can impart to all of you. All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a styrofoam cup.”

Developing a sense of entitlement can be one of the most detrimental things we do to ourselves. When we believe that we deserve certain perks because of who we are, we begin to erase the memory of how we got to a certain position and the people who helped get us there.

No one person is more important than other in the game of basketball. Each player does his/her job to help the team reach its potential. When players begin to think that they deserve more playing time or more shot attempts, the team chemistry begins to disappear. As you approach this coming season, remember that you are but a player on the team. There are no titles, only the position of teammate. You deserve nothing, but you can contribute to everything.