Commit to Personal Responsibility

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Often when people fear and resist personal responsibility it is because they are depending on the passing comfort they receive from the commitments of others. This is counterproductive. Here’s why:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, THEN Providence moves too.”


Are You A Loose Cannon?

In this favorite quote of mine by Goethe, he goes on to say in essence that when we are fully aligned and committed, “all sorts of things occur to help us that would never otherwise have occurred.” He adds “a whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” That’s the good news when we are operating from empowered thinking.

I assert the same is true when we are aligned with fear and committed to limiting beliefs of inadequacy. And no matter how we focus our use of choice, we are influencing outcomes. Goethe declares this choice to commit is BOLDNESS and full of GENIUS, POWER and MAGIC! He urges us to “BEGIN IT NOW!”

We are always choosing and it is always full of power and magic.  We would benefit to become conscious of this in ourselves and others, so this power is used in service and with full responsibility.

Are You Bold Or Hesitant?

One of the most telling ways we can identify a person’s level of commitment to personal responsibility is to listen closely to the words used, those not used, and the tone in which they are delivered. In my work, I listen to everything spoken (verbal and non-verbal) because true intent can be communicated in a subtle manner, is almost always unconscious and conveys a wealth of information if we attune ourselves to listen fully. Commitment is synonymous with alignment and is always seen, heard and felt if we are paying attention. Here are a few indicators to reveal if when a person is centered, accountable and responsible, or not:

Words Of Disempowerment And “No-Choice”

Recently an extremely vibrant man in his early 70s announced he was stepping down from a leadership role. What was interesting was the manner in which he announced his decision. Even though this man is healthy, full of passion, and has abundant life in him, he communicated by saying, “I just can’t do this anymore.” He quickly clarified nothing was physically wrong with him and that he intends to remain involved as a participant. I’m sure I am not the only person in the room who now has an image of this man as somewhat frail or less vital than before.

In reality, nothing is further from the truth. While I don’t know what motivated his choice of words, a more empowered and authentically representative way to express his decision (and adequacy and capabilities) might have been, ”I want to pass my role as leader to a new leader by end of this year. I want to pursue other interests with the time and energy I currently put into this role.” Instead he used the words, “I can’t.” With some exceptions, when people say “I can’t,” this statement is rarely true. Whenever we hear the words, “I have to”, “I ought to”, “I should”, “I need to”, and “I can’t” these belie a mindset in which we are opting to believe in, and represent ourselves as, disempowered and without choice. Why is noticing this important? Because every action and communication (large or small) originating from disempowered thought (reflecting a lack of accountability), results in negative consequences for all.

Communicating Avoidance

I was working with a group of corporate employees and leaders discussing an assignment they were given to define their purpose, values and visions. This exercise almost always meets resistance in some because defining these and putting your stake in the ground for causing specific outcomes, is in essence a declaration for one’s intrinsic motivation and is inconsistent with blame and victim consciousness. Specific ways people communicate avoidance are:

  • They do not speak in first person. They use the word “You” rather than “I” when responding to a question or request or when offering an opinion, such as, “You don’t always have the ability to follow-through on a commitment because you can’t control what others throw at you.” When this occurs, using the word “You”, distances the speaker from self-awareness and self-management. Responsible communication sounds like this, “I am not willing to commit and follow through because…” Notice how often avoidance of speaking in first person occurs in you and around you. Ask others and model a shift to first person language so all you guide can recognize their choices.
  • They dance around a direct response to leave a loophole. For example, I asked each to report on outcomes they were committed to cause for self and others. One man subtly indicated his refusal to deliver the assignment as requested. While I don’t know what put him into this mindset, nor is it right or wrong he was operating from it, what’s important is he was unconscious he was refusing to participate fully or as requested. A leader (whether of a company, school or family) must listen for and bring into consciousness a person’s actual choices, because transfer of responsibility to them and making sure it is picked up, is key to effective leadership and easy to miss.
  • They unconsciously enable others so they can continue to enable themselves. In the above example, numerous people in the room jumped in to enable this person’s train of thought and make valid his point. This shows up by defending a person’s immediate point in the conversation when the real issue is they are being asked to get conscious about the choice in front of them no matter what else may be pertinent around this choice. I ask the question, “Are you empowering or enabling?”

Responsibility is Not a Dirty Word – It Is Freedom And Joy

The reason I am sharing this information with you is that real happiness comes from living a fully accountable, personally responsible life. When we own the job of managing our happiness, our relationships, our motivation, and our accomplishments, we feel fulfilled and contributing. Listen for the level of personal responsibility in you and those you lead, and by addressing it, you create great joy. As you do, you join me in fulfilling my purpose to help create conditions in which all people love their lives.

This article is published nationally in the column Emotional Intelligence in The Women’s Journal, Oct-Dec, 2016

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