Out of Obligation

The Responsibility Process™ shows us that Obligation is a position of mind where you are doing something you feel you have to do though you don’t want to. When in Obligation you think and say “I have to,” you generate resentment that you either spew around or bottle up, and the resentment produces stupid — or at least wasted — thoughts and action.How do you release yourself from the mental position of Obligation? Ask yourself what you want about the situation. Look to see what’s true that you’ve not been seeing. And, ask yourself what taking responsibility might look or sound like.

I did that recently when I “had” to push some urgent work aside and accompany my sons to their activities. I caught myself grumbling internally and growling at them. When I caught myself I stopped. I forgave myself for being human and silently asked myself what I wanted. The answer came immediately that I signed up for this activity (in more ways than one!) and I wanted to be a Dad at that moment and enjoy my sons. The Obligation and resentment vanished and I was much more responsive and available — a moment of life I lived out instead of waited out becausee I got out of obligation.

Now that was a quick release. But sometimes its not so easy and can take a lot longer (I recently stewed in Obligation about work and career for three years before clarity came, and I coach many leaders who feel trapped in Obligation about work, career, and family), but the process is the same — keep intending to take responsibility, keep asking yourself what you want, and keep looking to see what’s true. The clarity will come to you if you do these things. Your natural Responsibility Process™ works that way, flawlessly, time after time.

Questions: What are you doing that you don’t want to do but think you have to? And how does that make you feel and act? What if you trusted your power and ability to respond resourcefully to move from Obligation to Responsibility, what might that look like?

You can have it the way you want it. More importantly, you can want it the way you have it!

“Obligation is indeed a long way from Responsibility.”
Tom DeMarco, speaking at the Cutter Summit, May 10, 2006

Posted in Responsibility on 08/10/2006 09:55 pm
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