Most of the time, I am writing about things that are on my mind at the moment. And after this weekend, the one thing that is on my mind, are the words Personal Responsibility. I think the reason those words and what it means, is on my mind, because I just feel like there is a lack of it at every turn right now.
So what does Personal Responsibility mean? If you google search the words, which I did. Four hundred and ninety-one million results will be returned. But the first one provided by wikiquote, which I like. Says this: It is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions. A corollary idea is that because we cause our actions, we can be held morally accountable or legally liable.
If you are a believer in Personal Responsibility than you would agree that we as individuals choose what happens to us and not are circumstances, and we are not bystanders in our own lives. You either believe this or you don’t.
I think the word instigate is probably the one word that sticks out to me the most in the definition of personal responsibility. I looked up that word as well. By the way. Most people don’t look up words anymore. I know I didn’t until I became a writer and because of that I didn’t want to rely on my memory or what I thought a word meant until I looked it up. I would encourage you to look up words more, because you may not truly understand what the word means, but I digress.
Instigate means; to urge or provoke a certain action to occur. Meaning you personally did something that caused this action. You may not have intended to do it, but because you took an action a result occurred.
Back to the word or idea of Personal Responsibility. If you honestly believe this, you ether believe it or you don’t. You can’t be half way into Personal Responsibility. You either believe that individuals control their own destiny or they don’t. You either believe that we all have the same opportunity because of our abilities, skills, and talents or you don’t. You can’t believe that we have the ability to control this thing, but not this thing. You have to be all in or not.
Years ago, I was in a work situation that wasn’t ideal. I wasn’t getting along with a few key people who I needed to get a long with. I felt like they were assholes, didn’t listen, and only cared about what it was they were looking to do. And they felt the same way about me. I whined about it constantly and ultimately interviewed and received job offers to leave that company and that situation.
I didn’t leave the company. I ended up staying. But I chose to take a different approach. I changed my attitude, I changed the way I conducted business, and ultimately those relationships changed and I ended up becoming most of their bosses. In all of this, the one thing that I could control was me. And that is what I did.
You could make the argument that I was at a disadvantage because of the people I was working with. Most of them had more years of experience within that company and more experience in that industry. I could say that everyone was taking their side because of these conditions. And I did make that argument at first, until I made the decision to change.
One of my favorite stories my mentor has shared with me over and over makes this point as well. He tells the story that he was at a point in his life, where he needed to make more money and was complaining to his mentor about how much his company was paying him.
My mentor said that he told his mentor that he would be doing better financially and otherwise, if his company paid more. His mentor replied and said. “Are there other people in your company that get paid more than you do?”
My mentor replied to his with a “yes.” His mentor then told him that it wasn’t the company then, it must be him. He also said “What was it that he was not doing or doing that was preventing him from making more?”
My mentor took personal responsibility and changed his life for the better and now has impacted millions of others because of this one step in taking personal responsibility.
In today’s society everyone is looking to blame other people, companies, social media, parents, schools, etc. for the reasons they are where they are, or do what they do. If you believe in Personal Responsibility than you would also believe that we all have equal opportunity to have the life we want.
Culturally nowadays, people are given a pass on personal responsibility before they even had a chance to have it. A few examples of this is in our school systems. They say, because a person comes from a certain socioeconomic background that they are not able to perform at the same standards as others. It is a really sad state of affairs that we give a pass, and this by itself creates a lower ceiling and keeps these individuals from every reaching their full potential because they have never had to.
As I look back over my life. I went to the worst schools in the city and county I grew up in. My parents combined probably never made more than thirty or forty thousand dollars to support a family of five people. I allowed these conditions to define who I was, early on into my adult life.
I said this is who I am, this is what I do. I believed that I didn’t have the same opportunities because of who and where I came from. When I made the change in my mind, to go out a do better for myself, I had a lot of opportunities present themselves to me. But I had to take Personal Responsibility.
Where in your life have you lacked Personal Responsibility? What areas in your life should you take more accountability for? Are you enabling others to not realize their full potential, because you are not allowing them to take Personal Responsibility?
I would be curious to hear your thoughts on these questions. Please share your thoughts in comments.
To your success and your future.