So often our frustrations come from life not going the way we planned or wanted or envisioned. People not acting the way we hope, jobs not turning out as magnificent as we expect, relationships ending in turmoil instead of eternal love, etc. Being responsible for your life, 100%, can entirely turn these frustrations around.
Being 100% responsible for your life, can entirely turn these frustrations around.
What does that really mean? Well, being responsible means not only having a say in what you do, but it also means owning your part in everything that happens to you.
Last week, a friend/coworker of mine had a little mishap at our place of business. She is new to the company, and she didn’t know the exact rules, so she pushed her boundaries a bit. After this incident, both my friend and my boss called me to talk about it. My friend understood the boss’ upset; however, she also felt like she was not properly informed of the rules by her boss. My boss understood the mishap; however, she also felt like her employee was slightly making excuses for not following the rules. Now, in this situation, I saw both sides, and truly, the solution was better communication. But here’s my point: each side of the story understood the other person, AND was blaming the other person. Now, there’s some value in this “blaming” or addressing where the problem came from, and obviously, in this hierarchical situation, the boss has the final say, regardless of who’s right or wrong. However, on each side, if either person had taken full responsibility of it, it would have gone away. For example, if my friend had simply taken responsibility for not following the rules (EVEN THOUGH she wasn’t fully informed), and apologized, my boss would understand. And, if my boss had taken full responsibility for not informing her of the rules (EVEN THOUGH her employee may have been making excuses), and apologized, my friend/the employee would learn and do better.
So what’s the harm? Because even as I write it, I can feel my own slight resistance to it. Why don’t we just do that, all the time?
Our pride says, “but but but! I didn’t do anything wrong!!!!!!!” And it fights. And it gets frustrated with others, instead of 100% OWNING what it is we did or did not do.
But here’s the thing. Responsibility is not blame.
I know I say this like every blog post, but I’ll say it again: responsibility is NOT blame.
I know that’s a really hard one to grasp, and obviously, certain definitions of it, DO say it’s blame. But go with me here. If responsibility is NOT blame, and I take responsibility, for what I did in a situation that caused a mishap, and the mishap GOES AWAY, why not do it??? Not only is this super practical for resolving literal issues, it also absolves you, the person taking responsibility, of any lingering resentment, guilt, or shame. It allows you to step up to what you did. I mean, it doesn’t have to be bad, but if you messed up the rules, you messed up the rules! Maybe they didn’t tell you, and hopefully communication can improve, but that doesn’t change the fact that you messed up the rules. Acknowledge it, without making excuses, and literally watch it disappear.
I think a lot of what stops us from doing this is fear - fear of what the other person will think. Fear that they will think we’re a screw up, or we are unreliable or something. But in reality, what it does is it shows integrity, honesty, and courage. Plus, the more you take responsibility, the more you get to learn from your actions, and the more say you have in everything you do. Because no longer is it someone else’s fault for you not doing what you want to do - it’s all on you. You get ALL the say for how you show up. You get all the say for the choices you make.
I’m not going to lie, it’s a tough path, in that you have to be willing to make your own choices, but it’s also incredible. You get to let go of other people’s actions, and create your own. Instead of waiting for someone else to mess up for you, just own your mess-ups. Be the powerful one. Step up and say “I apologize for doing that” with no other excuses, communicate if the roots of the problem needs to be addressed, and move forward. Even when it’s tough. Even when they are being mean. Even when they are in the wrong. Yes. Even when they are in the wrong. Your power is larger than you think.
I’d love to know what you think about this concept! If you read all the way to the end, please shoot me and email or leave a comment on the site and let me know if you have thoughts, questions, feedback, or even disagreements. This concept is sometimes a hard one to communicate, but it’s a hugely free-ing one, so I want to get better at sharing it effectively. Thanks guys!