I’ve asked this question to many of my personal clients as well as to thousands of people while speaking across the world. What does it mean to be responsible? If the electricity goes out, are you responsible? Most people will answer “No, of course not, that is someone or something else’s fault”. The answer I always give is that responsibility means that you are innately “able to respond”.
Responsibility at its core means that we are in control of how we respond to every single situation presented to us. When we consider responsibility in this light it can seriously empower us to take Extreme Ownership over every aspect of our lives. How incredible! The pitfall of this realization is that we come to think that if we have control over our own lives, that we can also control others. This is a mistaken abuse of power. We can only control ourselves and influence others to take control of their own lives.
This concept is at the heart of leading by example. We are hard-wired as humans to mimic the people and environment that surround us. Naturally, the more your actions embody the belief of being able to respond to any situation, the more others will begin to reflect your behavior. At first, it isn’t easy to adopt this new philosophy. Doubt, blame, judgment, disbelief, fear, denial and ignorance will all rear their nasty heads to keep you feeling limited, trapped, and powerless.
Be vigilant. Start a practice. By not allowing yourself to fall prey to the self-limiting belief that you are a victim of circumstance, the seeds of responsibility will begin to take root, and eventually, leadership will sprout. Your ability to respond will transform you into a mirror for others. In you, they will begin to see the qualities they seek to possess- confidence, strength, adaptability, openness, self-reliance, curiosity, and success. Leadership isn’t necessarily the ability to tell other people what to do, but rather it is the ability to inspire a vision of somebody or something worth becoming.
So the next time when someone cuts you off in traffic, or your boss gets angry with you, or when the lights suddenly go out, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself, “Am I responsible?”