Taking Responsibility for Your Actions
When we make excuses or try to blame other people or external factors for the eventual outcome of something, not only are we failing to take responsibility, but we are demonstrating a character trait which is very common in people who fail to succeed in anything.
In shouldering responsibility ourselves, we are giving ourselves the power to shape the outcome ourselves and are therefore taking an active and not a passive role in how the outcome turns out.
RealisationIt’s only when you accept that everything you are or ever will be is up to you, that you are able to get rid of the negativity of excuse making that can so often prevent you from succeeding. You may find yourself in your current position in both your personal and professional life and remain convinced that if all’s not going well, then it’s ‘so and so’s fault’. However, we all have free will which means that we are completely responsible for all of our successes and failures and of our happiness or state of unhappiness.
When we realise this it can, at first, seem like a huge responsibility which we are placing on our shoulders but when you rationalise it and accept that you are responsible for every action you take and every decision you make, that there is virtually nothing that you can’t achieve, have or accomplish if you accept that it’s within yourself and yourself only, to reach your ultimate goal.
Get Out Clauses Don’t WorkOne of our biggest problems is that we don’t like to fail and, more importantly, we don’t like to be seen to fail. The problem with that train of thought, however, is that we then tend to set ourselves a goal but at the same time we create an excuse to keep as a ‘spare card’ we can use so that if we don’t succeed, we can blame something or somebody else. However, the more personal responsibility we take, the more in control we are and the more control we have, the more likely we will reach our goal as there will be no excuses to fall back on if we fail.
Therefore, taking responsibility for our actions equals success. It also makes us feel good about ourselves and rids us of negative personality traits such as anger, fear, resentment, hostility and doubt.
Replacing the NegativeIf you’ve ever been around somebody who always appears to be ‘down on their luck’, you’ll have noticed that their whole personality seems to be riddled with negative comments and that they have nothing positive to say. It’s quite true that you can’t really hold both a positive and negative feeling at the same time, so by replacing the negative with a positive, it stops you from feeling unhappy as you have come to accept that you are now going to be solely responsible for how you feel, not other people or other external factors.
Accepting ResponsibilityOnce you accept total responsibility for everything that happens to you in life, you will soon discover that this also enables you to find solutions to life’s difficulties far more quickly.
For example, take work colleagues or someone you are in a personal relationship with. Say you’re having problems with them and it is causing you stress. A negative person who likes to apportion blame might say, “Since I met so and so, it’s been nothing but trouble” whereas somebody who accepts total responsibility might say, “Hang on a moment; I am responsible for having this person or these people in my life. I took that job or I embarked upon this relationship – no-one forced me to.” Therefore, if they’re not happy with the situation and have taken responsibility for it, they are also able to find the solution – in this case, by leaving the job or getting out of an unhealthy relationship.
Similarly, what about those who are feeling bitter because people earn more than they do. Well, whose fault is that? If you accept total responsibility, then you’ll look to do something about it if it’s important to you. Find out how you can earn more money. Speak to others and find out what it is they are doing differently to you then start applying all that knowledge to make the changes you need to make to create the kind of life you want.
In accepting responsibility, you are accepting a willingness to develop your character and in doing that, the stronger your character will become and your life will be improved as a consequence.
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Lori - 13-Mar-18 @ 1:20 PM
Lenrock- Your Question:
Can you help me. After 5yrs of being verbally abusive my wife has sent me this link. Not saying it doesn’t make sense or make excuses but now that you know where I stand can you Help me
Our Response:Why did she send it to you? Was it to excuse her own behaviour or to accuse you of being negative? Sorry it's not clear what you're asking.
LifeCoachExpert - 26-Jan-18 @ 10:06 AM
Lenrock - 24-Jan-18 @ 7:50 AM
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Katie - 4-May-17 @ 7:34 AM
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She can she will - 10-Mar-17 @ 6:15 AM
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Back on the topic of the Leadership Principles, we’re going to explore one that even Tommy from Rugrats understands: responsibility (or “‘sponsbltee” as he pronounces it). The principle states “seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.” While it seems relatively straightforward, this principle requires some parsing and deeper exploration.
Many managers (which I do work hard to differentiate from leaders) understand they are accountable but few make the leap to being responsible. Responsibility is all about ownership. Accountability is simply being the first person they call when things get screwed up. Big difference. To really understand this principle, I think some fictional examples might be helpful.
First we’ll explore the “take responsibility for your actions” clause because it’s simpler then we’ll move into the advanced class about “seeking responsibility.”
Accountability and responsibility are somewhat different animals. To make the point, allow me to offer two responses to the same scenario. The situation is the business unit just cratered and completely missed its earnings target. The leader of said unit is called onto the carpet to explain what’s happened. Here are the responses.
Accountable manager: “Well, I know it doesn’t look good that we missed by 27%. It makes sense I’m the one here explaining it as I run the business unit. But here’s what happened – our managers aren’t trained enough in what they do and they didn’t have the skills needed to cope with a rapidly changing economic environment. On top of that, I had a lot of pressures from IT to keep within a spending target so they could make their numbers which means I wasn’t able to make all the investments I wanted to. I’m sorry we missed our numbers. We’ll get ’em next year Skipper!”
Responsible leader: “I didn’t deliver on my commitment to the organization. I failed to ensure my people were properly trained and I didn’t take fast enough action in correcting their shortcomings when they became clear. Despite IT budget pressures, I wasn’t able to figure out a way to deliver the desired results through other means versus relying solely on IT. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, here’s the plan I’m going to roll out to better prepare us for next year.”
The accountable manager knows his head is on the block and deflects blame for the poor results on factors outside of his control. In his mind, it’s the market’s fault and his team’s fault that things didn’t get delivered on. Contrast that with our responsible leader who takes FULL responsibility for EVERYTHING that happens on her watch (this dynamic is similar to the “you see it – you own it” approach). In the military they say “the commander is responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen on their watch.” There are no excuses. The responsible leader understands and embodies this.
The idea of not only taking responsibility (as our responsible leader above does) but going beyond that and seeking it out would, unfortunately, blow the spec of many “leaders” in those roles today. The simple notion of looking for more areas to be responsible for is a completely foreign concept. The thing is, it’s a factor that truly differentiates outstanding leaders from their peers.
Here’s the notion: after you’ve taken responsibility for everything that occurs (or doesn’t occur) in your world, take a giant step back and figure out where else you can have a positive impact in your organization. Scary, huh?
A huge benefit of this principle of seeking responsibility is that great leaders right their own houses and spread their influence into the darker recesses of the organization. When they seek responsibility, many times those responsibilities come in the form of larger roles or taking on work their immediate manager used to perform (ostensibly freeing that individual up to take on larger responsibilities themselves). The growth and advancement of both individuals and the organization as a whole are embodied in this leadership principle. This type of growth goes hand in hand with the type of personal and professional development I advocate in today’s rapidly changing world.
Seeking responsibility is good for all involved. You benefit because you’re building skills and expanding your capabilities. You also benefit because people around you see you’re dedicated to changing the organization for the better rather than simply being satisfied sitting around collecting your paycheck. Your team benefits because they get to see a great example of true leadership that they’ll hopefully emulate. Your boss benefits because she can expand her own responsibilities and grow her skills while you take things off her plate to enable her to do so. The organization benefits because everyone is growing and seeking to do the right thing on a larger scale.
So please – never throw someone under the bus if they’re on your team. If they make a mistake, you’re responsible for it. Chucking people under the bus saves you in the short term but you’ll soon find you’ve run out of bodies to chuck because they’re either all bus crushed or they’ve fled the scene to avoid being the next sacrifice to the Bluebird gods. Second – look for ways to expand your responsibilities and do so for the good of the organization. Subordinate your interests to those of the greater good and you’ll do fantastic.
Let’s hear about leaders you’ve had and how they’ve exemplified this principle (or share the jerk stories and how they didn’t – but no names or identifying specifics please). So who’s going to be the first to share a story with us? Comments please…
– Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC