Words to Live By: Responsibility

(This is one of a part of a series of WORDS TO LIVE BY. This series grew out of a workbook I first made for my young daughters and discussed at the dinner table. These Words include values, good ideas, and Words to aspire to….and learn from….enjoy!)

In my college years I thought that I was responsible….basically because I kept up a half decent GPA and didn’t get into trouble. Nothing really that great in retrospect. The first time I really knew what responsibility was started in May 1990. College was over for the summer. I decided that I needed to take a week off to ‘rest’ from my hard studies (was I serious?). So the next week I started working in my father’s sales agency for the summer. Soon after my father had his second heart attack.

Now my father later recovered and lived many more years. But he missed most of that summer. Young Jim (me) grew up fast. I’m glad it happened but it wasn’t fun at the time. I had to learn the business quickly – almost overnight. I had to learn what it meant to service clients, work with vendors, pay bills, logistics, etc. etc. My mother was out of town at the hospital with my father most of the week so I had the house to care for right away. Our well (water) went bad and I had to figure that out.

So I was responsible for the business and home. But through that process I also reflected on how ‘soft’ I was and how I was not being responsible nor was I taking any responsibility in my life. I was blaming others, blaming circumstances, angry at others, and I did not respond well to challenges. I was thinking like a victim instead of a leader or a winner. It is this latter definition of responsibility that I wish to discuss with you now.

Deepak Chopra says “responsibility means not blaming anyone or anything for your situation. Having accepted this circumstance, this event, this problem, responsibility then means the ABILITY to have a creative RESPONSE to the situation as it is now.” Every crisis or problem also has an opportunity in it – this type of awareness allows you to take your situation and transform it to a better situation.

So in a moment of responsibility there is a level of Acceptance (Words To Live By: Acceptance. http://wp.me/p2mGFu-1n ). When someone or something comes into your life, confronts you, whatever – accept that the moment is as it should be. There is meaning in all events. There is opportunity and education. This all helps YOU evolve. When you blame, point the finger, or source out the responsibility, you’re ignoring the root, the problem and the opportunity and education. Without accepting responsibility we can’t move on either.

I think it is important to remember that responsibility is the “ability to respond.”

Stay in the Driver’s Seat by taking responsibility in all situations.  Many people tend to fall into a victim mindset when they are challenged in life. Acting as a victim – blaming other people or things – disable us and it’s as though we are trapped and cannot do anything to change.

Think about it…would you knowingly want to face the world with fear or in fear? Then why face it as a victim? Things ‘happen’ to a victim, and not in a good way.

When we take responsibility, we gain control and power over ourselves and the situation.

Similarly, take responsibility for your accomplishments, the good things. I know that I am someone who rarely looks back and appreciates the good things. I often focus on what I have not yet accomplished. Take a moment to see how you were able to respond to life recently, things that you’ve done or accomplished. Build some good references for the future. Don’t get hung up here because the past does not equal the future – but use the accomplishments and good stuff to gain momentum.

Responsibly yours,


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