I had the privilege of sitting next to a lovely gentleman at a Business Network Breakfast this morning. Not long after exchanging the usual niceties we started talking about his life. A number of years earlier he had come to conclusion that he had not been a good father to his son. He decided to take ownership for his actions and made an apology to his adult son for “being an arsehole” of a father. He gave his son an undertaking that he would never criticise him again and that all encounters they had from that moment on will be pleasant. He kept his promise to his son and their relationship improved tremendously. An unintended consequence of this promise was that his son’s severe stutter that he had suffered with for most of his life was completely gone within 12 months.
I told him that he had given his son the most wonderful gift by owning up to his behaviour and taking full responsibility for his actions. He thanked me and cried.
All too often, we are quick to shift responsibility away from ourselves and onto others; we play the ‘blame game’ and this became all too apparent recently with a prank call from a Melbourne Radio Station that ended in a tragic suicide. The DJ’s who made the prank call are being blamed for this tragedy. I do not support the practise of prank calls and I do not find them funny, however, who is ultimately responsible for the nurse’s death? In the end, Jacintha Saldanha took her own life. Suicide is a sad and complicated issue.
If we do not take responsibility, we become victims and as victims we are disempowered and unable to change our situation. By blaming others for actions that affect us adversely we achieve a short term and perverse sense of superiority but we take away any opportunity for growth or improvement within ourselves. That’s not to say that we mope around blaming ourselves for everything that goes wrong. We need to identify where we have genuine control. We must take total responsibility for EVERYTHING that happens to us. When we take total responsibility, we empower ourselves to learn from our experiences and make the changes that we need to make to achieve our goals.
3 Steps to taking TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY
- Identify what is happening right now that you blame other people for? Perhaps you blame your boss for hating your job? Perhaps you blame the GFC for your financial status? Ask yourself – who is really responsible?
- Take Responsibility – OWN IT. The man I met at the breakfast this morning OWNED IT
- Make a decision to take action and make the necessary changes