“We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.”
― Sean Covey, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens
When I was a teenager, I was really into basketball. I was addicted to it especially during summer vacation when all the basketball leagues are held since school is out. I would wake up early during those days, sometimes at around five to six in the morning to attend practice. I will go home at around 10AM, watch television for two hours, have lunch, and then go out again to play hoops with my friends until 5PM.
This didn’t sit well with my mom because in my obsession with basketball, I was no longer helping with the house chores. Back then my sister and I were assigned our own tasks as a way of training us since we both grew up with a nanny to take care of our needs. My assignments were to wash the dishes and map the floor, two simple chores that I neglected to do because I wanted to become the next Michael Jordan.
I would get an earful from my mom every time she got back from work and see that I did not hold my end of the bargain. It was the same sermon over and over again but now I realize where she’s coming from. Being a parent myself, I get disappointed too when my kids don’t keep their ends of the bargain. No, I don’t let them map the floor or wash the dishes at their very young age. Simple things like organizing the contents of their school bags or putting biscuit wrappers in the trash can are usually the cause of my disappointment.
Taking responsibility can be difficult for some of us and for a variety of reasons. It can be because we find the responsibility too big or difficult, it can be because of our fear to get out of our comfort zones, or because we’re afraid to fail at it.
One of the keys to success is personal responsibility and it starts with us taking action and owning up to our mistakes. Here are some points to consider.
Taking responsibility means not blaming others
One of the bad things we usually do is blame others for our own shortcomings. We blame other people, circumstances, the weather, and sometimes even God but what we fail to realize is that if there’s anyone to blame in this situation, it’s none other than ourselves.
I used to be this kind of person. Every time I fail to do a certain task that was entrusted to me, I would go on and put the blame on other things or people. Even though I was at fault, I would always exclude myself from the equation even if I knew deep inside that I am at fault.
There was this one time when I was asked to submit a report that was due in three days. I had a lot of time to prepare for it but the data I needed depended on other people and though I have asked the people involved to send me their respective data, some of them were not able to and I ended up sending an incomplete report. My boss didn’t appreciate this and I got an earful.
I was furious at my staff’s inability to perform what they’ve been asked to do but looking back, I shouldn’t have put the blame on them. Taking responsibility means owning up to one’s mistakes and It was my report and I was responsible for collecting the data I needed. I should have made the necessary follow-up before the deadline instead of letting it pass me by and blaming it on them when things went wrong.
Stop making excuses
Whenever you arrive late for work, what do you normally tell the first person you see in the hall way while you gasp for air after taking the stairs from seven floors down?
“Traffic’s heavy!” or “The rain outside is crazy!” or “Are there really not enough parking slots reserved for us?”
You can get more creative than the ones I mentioned above but people will make the most ridiculous excuses available just to avoid being at fault. We’ve all done this at one point in our lives and sometimes our excuses can be valid but how many times have we admitted that it’s our fault rather than come up with an excuse?
Instead of making excuses, own up to your mistake. Taking responsibility means having the courage to admit that you are at fault. We all know deep inside when we are at fault but we’re just too afraid to be embarrassed in front of other people if and when they find out that we failed at something. Nobody’s perfect and everyone commits mistakes.
It’s okay to fail and just like what I said in a previous article about embracing failure, somewhere inside every failure hides an opportunity for growth and success.
Your irresponsibility becomes the responsibility of others
Remember back when you were a kid and you failed to fix your bed one morning? Who fixed it for you?
Was it your sister? Your brother? Your mom? Or your nanny? Regardless of who it was, this simple task of fixing your bed just became another person’s task because you failed to do it.
This happens now even in our adult life. At work, whenever someone fails to perform a certain task, the task gets delegated to someone else who can. Right?
At home, when your brother fails to throw out the trash in time for the garbage truck to pick it up, you or another member of the family does it for him. Correct?
Taking responsibility means being sensitive to other people’s time.
You reap what you sow
Our lack of responsibility can have a big effect on our future. Just like a farmer to his crops, the amount of harvest he will gain depends on the amount of hard work he put into it. Your success highly depends on your sense of responsibility. Every action or non-action has a consequence and no one else is responsible except us.
This is the reason why before we say something that can potentially hurt someone, we stop and think before opening our mouths because we want to make sure that whatever we say, we can be responsible for.
If you are in debt, you probably weren’t responsible enough to take care of your finances. You might have relied heavily on the credit card or practiced bad spending habits.
Just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean that it’s right
One of the best excuses people come up with for being irresponsible is that “there’s nothing wrong with it because everybody does it anyway.” Sounds familiar? I bet it does.
We’ve all said this so many times. The best example I can come up with was back in high school when cheating during exams was rampant. I knew that cheating was wrong and I knew that it was irresponsible but I still did it because everyone does it. But who am I kidding? Yes it did help me pass and get highs scores but I got it through illegal means.
Taking responsibility should not depend on what others do so making comparisons doesn’t help us in any way. I have a previous article about making comparisons that you can read in more detail.
Taking responsibility requires courage and accountability. If we really want to be successful in life, we need to take responsibility for it. Take action and be in charge because in the end, it is us who has the ability to control the results we would like to get.
Over to You
Was there ever a time when you did not take responsibility and someone else took responsibility for you?
I would love to hear your stories so feel free to leave a comment below.
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