Personal responsibility. What happened to it?

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.






The old man at the coffee shop

I have purchased my morning coffee at the same place for the last 10 years, with very few exceptions. Yep, same place, and the same order.  I know everyone here and they all know me.

For the last two years, I have worked out of the coffee shop every morning for the first two hours of the day.  They open up at 6 and I try to be in there at that time and work until 8 and then I go to work work.  There are about 5 or 6 people who are in the coffee shop at the same time as I am.  We say good morning and have some other pleasantries, but for the most part, I am in there on a mission.  I am trying to get things done.

There has been an old man ( I learned his age later; 85) in the shop every morning since I have becoming here for the last 10 years.  Back when I would just come in and purchase my coffee, we would have our normal pleasantries as I walked in or out.  Then when I started working the first two hours of the day in there, I noticed that he would get in there about 6:45 or so every day.  He would come in, grab his coffee, say hi to everyone and sit down and read the newspaper. And then sometime between 7 and 8 a few other regulars would come in and he and all of them would talk about everything under the sun.

In the last two years I have had a couple of conversations with him about a few things. He wore a hat with his Union displayed on it most days.  It was actually the same union that I was apart of when I worked in a previous career.  So we had a long conversation about that.  We would also talk about other events going on around town.

Honestly though, we didn’t have very many conversations.  He liked to talk, so it was more of my fault than his.  He knew that I was on a mission and I would be working or reading. So being the kind of guy I knew he was, he probably didn’t want to bother me.

There was about three weeks where I didn’t see him. One of other regulars who was a little closer to him told me that he had gotten sick and was in the hospital.  Nothing major was really wrong with him, but after being in the hospital for that long some other complications with his health had occurred.  And he has now passed.

He and I would sit within 3 feet of each other everyday.  We had our normal pleasantries every single morning, but that was pretty much it. Kind of sad, that I didn’t know him any better than I did.

Today and going forward I am going to take more time and get to know the people who are in here.  Why wouldn’t I. We are not going to hang out on the weekend or anything, but getting to know these regulars is something I should do.

Rest in peace Bill (old man at the coffee shop)



Definiteness of Purpose

I have read the famed “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  I am currently reading “The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as Told To Napoleon Hill.”  The 17 principles outlined in this masterpiece is actually the original conversation that Dr. Hill and Mr. Carnegie had, prior to the 20 years of research that Dr. Hill did to create the book “Think and Grow Rich.” The first principle Mr. Carnegie discusses and states must be first on the road to success is “Definiteness of Purpose.”

To be successful in any area of life we all must have a “Definiteness of Purpose”.  We all know this, but it is seldom practiced and I am no different.  Definiteness of Purpose means we must have a clear understanding of what we want and it must be a burning desire and passion for us.  When you have a definiteness of purpose you will not be distracted by anything that takes you away from pursuing this purpose.  It makes me think of Steve Jobs.  Steve Jobs and Apple’s definite purpose was to create products that revolutionized the industry and we as consumers didn’t even know we wanted or needed them.  He and Apple did this with the original MAC and how they changed the music industry and cell phone industry up until his death, his legacy lives on with the Apple brand still today.

At times I am pursuing what I think my purpose is, but then I get distracted.  I find myself going down rabbit holes that are not directed to my major purpose.  Is this you?  Maybe it is my own fault?  Yes it is my fault.  I feel like I have clearly defined my major purpose, but maybe it is not clear enough? If it is clear, am I on the right path to fulfilling it?  Not sure, I guess these are all great questions.  Here is what I do know, I am having fun and enjoying life and I have an attitude of gratitude for what I do have, I am truly blessed.

Brian Willett

7 lessons I learned about life and running that running taught me…

On June 8, 2013 I technically started running.  My plan wasn’t to become a runner it was more of a way for me to lose a few pounds that I committed to losing on January 1, 2013.  As I started running (and losing weight) I started really liking it.  At that time, I liked losing weight more than the running.  However, over time I started liking the running just as much.  The morning run at 4:00 am. when no body is awake, just me and my thoughts is one of my favorite parts of the day.

7 lessons:

1.  If you want to lose weight…running is the most efficient way I know to burn calories and lose weight, with proper diet of course.  A good long run can allow you to bank a few calories and you can still eat what you want, in moderation of course.

2.  Goal Setting…As I mentioned I started out running really just to help me lose a few extra pounds.  For most of my life I have always been an athlete.  Playing sports and lifting weights and being fit was a way of life. Since High School, I have lifted weights, but really didn’t have any firm goals set. Running has forced me to set goals in running as well as every other area of my life.

3.  Seeing things differently…I bet I have walked through Cherokee Park a 1000 times throughout my life.  I would take my dog to there almost everyday during the summer for many years.  But running in the park as the sun comes up and it is just you and your thoughts, the park looks differently and it has a different feel to it, it is majestic.  I would have never experienced this if I didn’t start running.

4.  There are no shortcuts…We all know there are no shortcuts on the road to success.  However, in basketball from time to time you will hit a lucky shot, or in football the defense makes a mistake and you are wide open, lifting weights you can tweak your form and cheat to lift more weight.  In running, however far you go, there is only one way back. There are no shortcuts back, it is the same amount of steps.

5.  The last mile…is the hardest.  You are worn out, you’re dehydrated, your body hurts, but you have to finish.  Life is the same way, when you are about to accomplish something worthwhile the last few tasks are the hardest.  In college, the last few classes were the most difficult, every test and every activity was a grind.  In the beginning, they weren’t as bad, you just did it, but as the end drew near, the more cumbersome the tasks get.

6.  The journey is hard…but it is worth it.  Life is hard and sometimes we don’t know what path we are going down and it can get really difficult.  As early as this morning, I was thinking about how hard the run was. My body ached, tired, a lot on my mind, but as I finished the run, I felt better, and I know the run was worth it for my health and well-being.

7.  Life and running…only gives you what you deserve and earn.  I can’t run 7 minute miles unless I earn it through hard work, preparation, and dedication to that goal. These are the same principles needed in life to have a life of success as well.

Until next time….

Brian Willett