Recently Steve Pavlina blogged about taking responsibility for everything in your life. He said that it’s either total responsibility or none, there’s no in-between. That struck me as true. You either take responsibility for every single thing in your life, recognize that it has consequences, if only to you and act on that responsibility. Nothing is neutral.
Pavlina tweeted: “What would your day look like if you performed at your absolute best in all areas(best work habits, best food, best communication, etc)?”
Pavlina then tweeted: “How many days can you afford not to perform at your best?”
If you think you can get away with doing things half assed…well, you can’t. You’re probably just not looking at it right. I mean, what do you and I know? We don’t know that by performing at our best today, we may serve as a beacon to a drug addict that helps him stop doing drugs. Or maybe nothing happens. Or we save the world. We don’t really know, we’re limited, finite creatures. Do you really wanna that risk, though? Of not helping others or yourself?
Knowing that we’re finite creatures, the only thing we can do is to do the best we can. The absolute best, period. Anything less and we could be risking disaster. Maybe by not going for a walk or a jog today to get fit, you spend that time doing something that will hurt you greatly ten years down the road. Maybe you’ll have that regret when you have your first heart attack.
Taking responsibility is fundamentally different from taking on the guilt and the blame. Guilt and blame may make you feel bad, but they aren’t empowering. They’re just more attempts to not take responsibility. They’re attempts to blame someone else, except you blame yourself or your past self. Taking responsibility is empowering, even if you screw up.
Say you screw up. The responsible way to handle that is to figure out the damage done, to sincerely resolve to fix it somehow. Reverse the damage if possible, apologize and try to be sympathetic and listen to the emotions of the people involved. Sure, you don’t feel good cause you hurt someone, but you don’t torture yourself. The responsible way is to accept that you will screw up and hurt people. A lot. It’s a part of life. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, it’s just a part of living with others. It’s a condition of existence.
However, the blame way is to give up, sit down and start crying. You can then try to blame others for your mistake, including yourself or your past self. If you do anything to fix the situation, it is out of guilt, not a proactive desire to fix things and help the people involved.
Which would you rather be?