I’ve found myself discussing the concept of responsibility a lot in conversation over the past few days/ weeks so I thought it might be something interesting to bring to light this week. What does the word responsibility mean to you? By definition it means the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone. I think this is the general definition that comes to mind for many of us. Having to take care of something or someone. We learn this from an early age. Observing how our parents/ grandparents/ guardians take care of us as we are growing up. Watching over our younger siblings in a similar way when our parents aren’t around and leave us in charge. When we finally get our way and get that family pet that we promise to look after. That neighborhood babysitting job, Etc. … But what about the idea of personal responsibility?
In additional context responsibility also means the state or fact of being accountable and the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization. These are the two less popular definitions that I would like to expand upon. If you reflect back we’ve discussed the specific notion of accountability in a previous post and it is something I tend to touch upon frequently when expressing various thoughts and ideas. Perhaps due to the fact that accountability is one of my highest ranked values.
Oprah Winfrey has been quoted saying “You are responsible for your life. And if you’re sitting around waiting on somebody to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time.”
How does that resonate with you?
When you hear those words what immediate feelings or thoughts come to mind? Are you faced with feelings of fear, disappointment, struggle, or do you become energized, excited, and/or full?
If you examine and process the third definition mentioned above, the ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization in my opinion it sounds nothing short of liberating. I think because we are introduced to responsibility early on in the way of work (taking care of something) we unfortunately often don’t associate it with the most positive of feelings. How many times have you said to yourself you’re over being adult because of all the responsibility? Bills, work, meetings, structure. As we grow up we often lose sight of that carefree attitude we may have once had when we were kids. We move into a space where the idea of being held accountable is often times so fearful that we avoid taking the necessary risks that help drive our lives forward and ultimately keeps us on our toes.
When you act independently and make decisions without authorization in part you begin to let go of, and free yourself of all of the things that others might think of you. You make decisions based on what you feel is best for your life so when and if the time comes to take responsibility for something, you’ve personally done, it’s much easier to do so because your actions are authentic. When you wholeheartedly believe in your actions you don’t run away from them when the going gets tough. You defend and stand by them on solid ground. Why do you think advocates, rebels, and waymakers stand out from the rest? It’s not because they aren’t afraid that there may be consequences to their actions. They know there will be consequences. The difference is, is that they believe those consequences are the very foundation that makes their movement and work worth fighting for.
So what are you fighting for in life?
When you take responsibility you challenge yourself to move into action as this is truly the only thing that stands in the way of fostering your own greatness.
This week I challenge you to come up with at least five different ways to start taking greater responsibility in your own life. Maybe that means it’s one new actionable item per day Monday thru Friday, or it could be coming up with five things all at once and cultivating them simultaneously. The decision on the process is entirely up to you so long as the work gets done. Once you have made it through the week take time to reflect on your progress. What worked for you and what didn't? What has become easier or seemingly more difficult? Are you able to see a shift in the amount of fear you hold onto? Do you feel more liberated? Free?
Record these thoughts and insights in your journal where they are easy to reflect upon. Take note of any parallels you may find by way of the decisions you’ve made. Remember your actions are the only thing you have full control over and they are what ultimately determines the direction of your life.
“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” - George Bernard Shaw