Ask the Readers: How Can You Take More Personal Responsibility?
I was watching Season 6 of Celebrity Fit Factor today (I don't watch much TV but kinda got caught up in this show) and as I was watching some of the antics by actor Dustin Diamond (better known as "Screech" on Saved By the Bell), I was struck over and over again by how little personal responsibility the guy takes for his situation.
I'd like to start a discussion about personal responsibility, because I think it's a critical factor in whether you are living the life you want, or if you blame others for being in the situation you're in.
Just as a little background, Celebrity Fit Factor is a show where 8 overweight celebrities sign up for an 8-week challenge to lose weight and get in shape. They go through all kinds of physical challenges, split into two teams.
Well, one of the worst competitors in Season 6 was Dustin, who really couldn't complete any of the challenges because of various reasons — injuries, out of breath, just didn't have it in him. One week, he didn't even show up. Another week, he was calling his lawyer because the boot camp drill sargeant was calling him names.
And the whole time, Dustin went on and on about how he was being picked on, how nobody was backing him up, how everybody was against him.
I kept wanting to yell at the TV: "Wake up Dustin — you're responsible for your situation! Nobody likes you because of your actions and attitude!"
But Dustin felt that it was everyone else's fault.
Unfortunately, this attitude is not unique to Dustin. Many, many people have the same attitude — everyone else is responsible for their situation. And in fact, I would submit that most (if not all) of us do this at some time or another. We blame others, instead of taking responsibility.
And sometimes, other people did help cause the problem. But to that I say: "Then come up with a solution. Make a change. Take responsibility for fixing it, if someone else is causing the problem."
I urge you to ask this of yourself, every time you find yourself blaming someone else for a problem: How could I have acted differently to prevent this problem? What should I do differently next time?
Let me give you an example. Perhaps you're at work, and a co-worker is continually doing a bad job on a group project, causing your group to fail. At a meeting, your boss asks you, What happened? Why did you guys fail? And you respond, "So and so keeps messing up. He caused us to fail." That's a typical situation, and a typical response.
Instead, ask yourself this: What could I have done, given that so and so is doing such a bad job, to make this project succeed anyway? And there are many solutions: You could have somehow taught this person to do a better job, or motivated him to do better. You could have reassigned his work, or worked around him. You could have gotten him off the team.
Sure, it's easy to say that in hindsight, but the true value in this solution is two-fold:
1) You learn from failures like this, so that next time you don't fail (at least, not for the same reason).
2) You learn to stop blaming others for your failures, and to take responsibility for your own destiny.
The value of this second point is incalculable. If you start taking control of your destiny, and stop letting others control it, you will get to the life you want. You will achieve whatever you want.
If you continue to let others sabotage you, and continue to be satisfied with blaming them and telling yourself (and others) that it wasn't your fault, you'll have a much harder time.
So I ask you, my dear readers:
How can you take more personal responsibility? Even if you're already good at this, where have you been blaming others, and what can you do to be the solution to the situation?
I'd love to hear your answers in the comments. If you're totally honest in the comments, you're a brave person. But the important thing is that you're honest with yourself, even if you don't leave a comment.