Responsibility is beyond right and wrong. It’s beyond policies and even beyond what many organizations would consider organizational ethics.
Ethics in organizations are considered rules. Right and wrong, you should do this, you shouldn’t do this.
And Responsibility is about moving beyond that.
It’s about what you really want and the notion that you’ve got to have passion for whatever you’re doing if you want to be successful.
It will keep you from accepting your mind’s Justify answer. It will keep you from accepting your mind’s Beat-yourself-up (Shame) answer or Obligation answer.
The role passion plays to be successful is that it’s an organic trigger for moving up the responsibility ladder when things go wrong. If you’re passionate enough about whatever you’re trying to reach for or strive for or do, then you’re less willing to get stuck. You’re less willing to settle.
Somebody taught me once that the purpose of a goal is to keep you in motion. It’s not about the goal itself — it’s about being in motion.
So the more you pursue a never-ending purpose, the bigger it grows and the more goals there are to achieve and obstacles to overcome. That kind of never-ending purpose is cool because then you’re not likely to get to that goal and sit on it and say, “Ah, I’ve arrived. I did it. Here it is.”
Instead, you stay in motion.
Perseverance has been a popular theme in the Success literature. And what The Responsibility Process™ teaches me about Perseverance is that there’s always something more for me to learn or to understand or to get if I’m falling short of what I want, expect, and believe for myself.
My own practice of responsibility has probably saved my life in that way over the last 25 years because it has taught me not to give up, that Quit is not a better a place to hang out than Blame or Justify or Shame or Obligation. So when things go wrong, I realize I may as well pick myself back up and try something different. Try a new approach. Try, try anything.
You’ve heard the saying: “Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Well, perseverance is trying something different and seeing what kind of results you get.
This is one of the themes that I think is critical in terms of how The Responsibility Process material informs the idea that responsibility is the first principle of success.
There’s a tremendous amount of support that people intending to be successful in any discipline learn something or see something or perceive something differently than others. To confront oneself and face the truth probably accounts for much in terms of success.
I remember a number of years ago there was some research on Olympic-quality athletes: they don’t train more than the athletes that they beat — they train differently. They have found a leverage point about how they train rather than how much they train.
To me, that reinforces the notion that learning, of discovering something new, seeing what others aren’t seeing, is a real key here.
What I’ve come to understand is that there are related themes: Passion, Perseverance, Facing the Truth, and Growth. One of the things we do in businesses to develop leaders is giving them opportunities that challenge them. And what we say about that is that it will help them grow.
So what The Responsibility Process has taught me is that personal growth is explained by The Responsibility Process. The act of moving from below the line or coping to above the line — which requires the opening of the eyes, the looking, the seeing something new, the “aha” moment, the expanded perspective — is the growth process.
So maybe in that way personal growth is completely iterative and incremental. And the more you practice responsibility, the more rapid it is.
It seems to me that that’s one of the things that contributes in a huge way to success — that you set your sights in a certain direction.
You start working in that direction.
You run into roadblocks.
You run into roadblocks.
You confront and face the truth.
And you grow.
And as you grow, you’re actually able to handle so much more, which means that you can handle bigger confronts, bigger truths, bigger challenges. And what used to really confront you then becomes relatively easy for you and contributes to your success.
Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip
One of my favorite affirmations, especially when I’m feeling overly challenged or down and out, is that I can be bigger than any problem. There’s no problem that’s bigger than me.
What are you struggling with right now? Think of one new angle you hadn’t thought of until now and see if it helps to move through this challenging situation. Are you passionate enough to not let this upset defeat you?
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Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.