Personal Responsibility: The Buck Stops with You
If you’re a parent, it’s time to act like a parent. If you’re a leader, then lead. If you want to be treated as an adult, then act your age. If you’re a politician, remember you weren’t elected to merely show up; you have a job to do. And if you’re not happy with your standing in life, don’t fault others. Success and happiness begin and end with personal responsibility.
Take Charge of Your Life
Personal responsibility puts you in the driver’s seat to make the most out of your life. You have the freedom to choose the direction that you want to take, determine the choices that you’ll make, and decide how hard you’re willing to work to achieve your goals. The key is to personally “own” your life, rather than abdicating the responsibility to others. The fruits of your efforts are yours as well, to keep or share, to invest or spend.
Personal responsibility needn’t be a burden. It’s a blessing when you assume complete responsibility for your life’s successes and failures (and we all experience some of each). But hard work and commitment are required. If you want to lose weight, start with diet and exercise. If you want money for retirement, begin with a commitment to saving. If you want to be successful, you must possess the knowledge, integrity, work ethic, and determination to win. Unless you believe in the tooth fairy, no one’s going to wave a magic wand to make it happen for you (but that doesn’t stop people from trying).
Some people think that life is a spectator sport. They sit on the sidelines and expect to be rewarded for the hard work and effort of others. Of course, if something goes well, they line up to receive the accolades. And if things go south, they make excuses or find a scapegoat to pin the blame on. It doesn’t (or let me say, shouldn’t) work that way. If you’re not willing to make the personal investment and sacrifices required to be successful, then don’t complain if/when you don’t achieve your goals.
The American Dream is built on a very simple premise: If you take a chance and you succeed, you reap the rewards of your success. If you take a chance and you fail, you have to face the consequences. Of course, there’s no guarantee that just because you’re willing to work hard for something, your success is a sure bet. But, by accepting ownership rather than abdicating your responsibility, chances are you’ll get closer to your goals.
The fact is that the world doesn’t owe you anything. If you want something in life, you must earn it. It begins with a positive attitude. Here are some principles to get you on the right path:
It’s your choice. If you want your life to be different, change it. If you’re waiting for something to happen, it won’t without your efforts. It’s not enough to think about what you want to do (or worse yet, complain). Get up and do something about it! As someone once said, ” ‘I must do something’ always solves more problems than ‘something must be done.’ ”
Believe in yourself. One of the things that may be holding you back is lack of self-confidence. If you don’t have the confidence in yourself, why should others? It may be time to invest in yourself so that you’re proud of who you are and what you represent.
Raise your game. What additional skills do you need to achieve your dreams? Take an additional course, read a self-help book, find a great role model to emulate, and turn every experience, especially failures, into a learning opportunity. If you’re not learning something new each day, you’re becoming obsolete.
Actions have consequences. Think before you act. Then accept responsibility for your behavior. Do you intend to finish school? Do you discipline your kids? Do you listen to your doctor’s advice? Are you saving for retirement? Do you text and drive? Do you blindly follow others? Remember . . . you own your choices. The decisions that you make have consequences.
Be accountable. Give everything 100% effort. When things go well, accept your well-deserved rewards, and when they don’t . . . oh well. Don’t point a finger if/when mistakes occur –– admit fault, learn from your mistake, and move on.
Be self-reliant. Everyone gets into a pinch once in a while and may need a helping hand getting back up. That doesn’t translate into a life of dependency. If you break a leg, use crutches for a few weeks to get back on your feet. But you shouldn’t lean on the crutches forever.
Failure is a part of life. As Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” Accept failure as a part of life. As we said earlier, learn from it and move on.
“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.” Some people see the glass as half empty. They’ll tell you all the reasons why you may fail. The truth is, they’re holding you back. Successful people face the same obstacles as everyone else, but the difference is in their attitude. Surround yourself with positive people; their energy is contagious. As James A. Baldwin once said, “Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”
You get what you deserve. People should be rewarded for exceptional performance, not for merely showing up. This provides an incentive for everyone to work hard AND work smart. Don’t be satisfied to be a bystander in your life story.
It’s your life. There’s no such thing as a dress rehearsal. You can choose to make the most of it or wait for things to come your way. If you’re spending your life complaining, making excuses, or pointing fingers, it’s time to adjust course and accept responsibility for your actions. As John Burroughs said, “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” As with everything in life, you reap what you sow. The buck stops with you.
Posted by Frank Sonnenberg on Tuesday, August 28, 2012