Last week, I made a focus on accountability. This week, I’m shifting a little bit- to personal responsibility. It’s time for some real talk. Some of you might feel I’m a bit brutal, but I think it is necessary. Here’s the thing you are responsible for everything in YOUR life. Let me explain.
You hold 100% of the authority of your life. You are the one with power and control. So the big question is: are you taking control?
Choosing to take control is choosing to take responsibility. No one is to blame for the way you feel and what you do. Someone can say or do something, and it can trigger you to feel a certain way, but they didn’t MAKE you feel a certain way. You made you feel happy/sad/frustrated/etc. You and your brain need to take responsibility.
- If you are still dreaming and haven’t reached your goals, you can take control.
- If your bank account has more red and fewer commas, you can take control.
- If your marriage is failing, breaking, or weak, you can take control.
- If there is a disconnect from your loved ones, you can take control.
- If you don’t have joy, you can take control.
- If you wish you were in a different business/field, you can take control.
- If you feel like you don’t have enough time in the day, you can take control.
- If your emotions and feelings control you, you can take control.
Notice anything? YOU CAN TAKE CONTROL.
How do you take control? You take responsibility. You take ownership. You stop making excuses. You put your ego aside. You decide to change. You stop blaming others and accept that your circumstances are due to no one else but the person in the mirror. YOU.
What does Radical Responsibility Mean?
Radical responsibility means that regardless of the situation, circumstances, and hand of cards life deals you; you take responsibility for yourself. It means if the dog ate your homework, it is not the dog’s fault, because you can be responsible for putting it in a safe spot. It means if you are late for a meeting, it’s not the traffic’s fault. It’s your responsibility to leave early and take into account travel time. It means if you’re always fighting with your significant other, it’s not their fault because you can choose not to be irritable or rude, and you can choose to be patient and loving even when it seems impossible. It means if you’re trying to lose weight, the muffin didn’t jump into your mouth. You choose every bite you take.
Even when life is busting at the seams with unknowns, how you respond and react is up to you. 2020 is the perfect example. It would be easy to blame COVID or murder hornets for all the bad things happening in your life. But the truth is, you still are in control. You can change your fate whenever you decide.
“But Aaron, you don’t understand. Something awful happened, and I couldn’t take control.” WRONG. Here’s the thing. You might not have been able to control that bad thing from happening, but what you do after it happens is what separates those taking responsibility and those who don’t. Everything that has happened, even up to the last second, is in the past. Repeat after me: “My past does not define me!” “My situation does not define me!” “I am in control of how I react to everything!”.
Accepting that life doesn’t happen “to” you, and that you can take control of the wheel at any point in time is life-changing.
Welcome to Radical Responsibility.
Feels powerful, right?
All taking control requires is one decision. One decision will lead to many more but making ONE decision will empower you to the next. Over time, the domino effect of your choices will show you the direction you’re heading. But decide to move one domino, and soon you’ll see the entire course change. Decisions don’t have to be the villain in your life story. You can take control. Over time, changing your choices will alter your life.
Some examples of decisions you make every day that can directly affect your life:
-Who you love? Do you say I love you? Do you show love and kindness with your actions? Do you keep track of wrongs? Do you expect them to “know” you love them, or do they feel it by how you treat them?
Once you become self-aware and take responsibility for everything in your life, you’ll see that every decision you make adds up. You’ll start building off that one decision. You’ll realize how simple it can be to take radical responsibility. You’ll feel free from the prison you put yourself in but blamed others. You’ll be self-aware and be making decisions with a clear mind. You will stop being on autopilot. You’ll stop blaming bad luck for your bad day. You’ll stop letting a rude stranger ruin your joy. You’ll soon see that the only difference between where you are and where you want to be- or gave up even trying to be is a series of decisions you can change at any time. (Speaking of letting a moment ruining your day, check out my blog post about this here.)
“Can One Decision Change My Life??”
The simple answer is YES! The reason is: the decision to take radical responsibility will guide you to new, healthy habits. For example, if you stop blaming the box of donuts in the break room for your weight gain, you’ll soon see the simple decision to do this will lead to better eating habits. You can break the excuse chain. It’s on YOU. If you don’t accept this responsibility, you will never be in control. It will be in control of you.
How is it all my responsibility even if my spouse/boss/coworker is a jerk and doesn’t pull their weight or take responsibility for themselves? You don’t understand!
Radical Responsibility Means YOU are 100% Responsible.
(Here is where accountability comes into play)
You might need to rewind the scene to see what I mean:
- Precise Expectations- What type of standard have you been setting in your life? You teach people how to treat you by the standards you set. If you feel there’s someone in your life that isn’t meeting your criteria, start by looking at the expectations you have for/with them. Be clear and precise. Make sure they know and understand. Ask them for what they expect from you too. Many times this is all that’s needed to repair a relationship.
- Communication Constant communication with team or person you work/live with is essential. When you do check-ins and communicate regularly, misunderstandings happen less. Address concerns right away and the morale within the relationship shift.
- Eliminate the Toxic People in Your Life — If someone isn’t cutting it, you can eliminate them from your inner circle. You can stop letting them hurt you. You can become indifferent when they exert lousy energy out to you. Sometimes this means co-existing with them in the workplace, but deciding that they have zero power over your emotional well-being. Replace the toxic with healthy relationships. If you’re the boss, this means hiring top-notch team members from the start. If you are an employee, it might mean you need to leave your ego aside to get along for the project’s sake and walk away without angst when the workday ends. If the angst continues, you ultimately can walk away from your job and find one more suited for you.
Taking Control in the Workplace
- Precise Expectations/Directions, Agreed Consequence. If you assign a job/project, make sure the entire team is clear on the directions and expectations. Make sure there are deadlines and consequences.
- Communicate. WHO is on the team, WHAT do you expect from them? WHERE is the job taking place? HOW do you expect them to do it? WHEN must it be done? If you’re on the team, make sure you are clear what the other members expect from you, and make sure you are clear with them what you expect them to do. Over communication will not ruin the job.
- Trust. No one likes a micro-manager. Once you set expectations trust your team members. Communicate regularly but don’t be a helicopter. They will sense your trust and work hard to keep it.
- Consequence. If you’re the boss and the team doesn’t deliver on time or what you expected, don’t be quick to blame them for the poor performance. Take a walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Did you explain your expectations clearly? Did you provide the resources they needed? Did you communicate and check in regularly? Did you coach them and listen to their needs? Did you see a struggle and ignore it instead of jumping in to help? What is the culture of your company/workplace? Are the team members excited and happy? Usually, the answer is YOU, not them. If the answer is indeed a member on your team, they must be reassigned elsewhere in a role that better suits them, or let go. You can’t be wishy-washy or a doormat when it comes to business. The consequence of not executing the consequence is vast. Think just because you’re an employee, you have zero control? WRONG. If you can’t remove people, remove yourself. If you change a lousy work environment, remove yourself. If you can’t remove yourself, change your attitude.
You are the author of your story.
- Your decisions over time give you the results you’ve gotten up to now.
- Laziness counts. If you are sitting here still saying you’ve done everything and yet are not in control… look at what you haven’t done. The lack of action is also to blame and, ultimately, your responsibility.
- How you react to “things that happen” is a choice.
- The power of NO. Saying no is hard. But you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Sometimes saying no is very awkward or uncomfortable. Another mantra to store in the toolbox: Get comfortable saying “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me. No need to explain yourself.
COVID, the president, the news, the economy, and everything on the outside will happen no matter what. You control the inside. You control YOU. You own your life. Social Media doesn’t write your life story. Attitude is everything. Decide on a good one.
Taking the first step:
Circle back to that one decision I mentioned. Decide to put in the conscious effort every day to improve and get better. All of this discontent didn’t happen in one day. It is years and years of decisions compounded every day. Start where you are the most unhappy and write down how you can change expectations right away. It might mean having a tough conversation, or admitting you’ve been wrong, or saying goodbye to someone you know is toxic to your life. If this all were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s much easier to blame someone else or the world for your problems and discontent. When you accept that you are in control, it’s liberating, but it is also a bit scary because you are the only one to blame.
True inner peace and happiness take radical responsibility. Are you up for the challenge? I know I warned you I would be brutal this week. It’s always hard to hear it’s YOUR fault. But I believe a little tough love is going to help you grow beyond measure. I’d love to hear some of the ways you are taking radical responsibility in your life. Comment below and let me in on your stories!