Consciousness, Ownership, and Paper Towels

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Leadership, Life | 2 Comments


Here in my comfy suburb of Los Angeles, I work in a tiny row of offices with a shared restroom at the end of the hall. There’s no fancy “office management staff” or anything here, and this means we all share resources — like paper towels to dry our hands.

It occurred to me the other day that if I bring my own roll of paper towels — as in, ones I have personally purchased — into the restroom with me, I am quite conscious about how many squares I tear off.

I noticed that when it’s not my roll, I just roll off whatever I feel like rolling off. In those cases, it doesn’t even cross my mind how many squares I use.

This made me think…

Is there a direct correlation between “ownership” and “consciousness?”

If my wallet is directly impacted by the usage of resources, am I more conscious about how many resources I use?

At least in the bathroom, it would appear so.


But maybe this idea can be extrapolated a bit… might this same ownership=consciousness phenomena exist in our organizations?

How much do we actually “own” at work? In a literal way, do we really care (at all) if our company supplies get worn or ruined? And maybe it’s not just about physical things, but things like our feelings of “ownership” in the projects we work on, or how much we get to “own” our decisions. After all, how many of us feel like we have complete control/autonomy/ownership over the entirety of our work-lives, from the clothes we get to wear to the times we show up to the projects we actually work on?

How much ownership is actually “spread out” in our organizations? Would more ownership cause more conscious behaviors in response?

My time in the restroom makes me think it would.


If you liked that post, then try these…

10,000 Hours Is Missing The Point by Josh Allan Dykstra on November 9th, 2009

Notes From ICF Conversation by Josh Allan Dykstra on February 17th, 2011

2012: Year In Review by Josh Allan Dykstra on January 6th, 2013


  1. Todd Deshane
    October 4, 2014

    There is a TED talk on how to dry your hands with a single paper towel. Go find it and share it.


Leave a Reply