Showing posts with label Personal Responsibility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Responsibility. Show all posts

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

I have a friend I no longer spend much time with.

She complains a lot and constantly blames someone else for what’s wrong with her life – even her poor husband, who’s been deceased for two years.

This woman seems incapable of taking personal responsibility for any situation. When I’ve pointed out that she has choices, she says something like, “Well, I can’t do anything about that.” It’s always another person’s fault that she’s unhappy.

She seems to be content to play the role of victim. She’s not willing to look within to see where she could take ownership of her situation.

Most people are not this extreme, but…

When something bad happens – and you had something to do with the outcome – it’s natural to want to place the blame somewhere else. At least temporarily, you get relief from your own guilt and discomfort by pointing the finger at another person.

The problem is, deep down you know you were responsible for the consequences. Trying to deny your role only leads to diminished self-respect and self-esteem.

And people eventually find out, if they don’t already know, so you risk losing their respect, too. The solution is to recognize and own up to the part you played in the way things turned out.

The faster you admit that something is your fault, the quicker others are to get over it and move on. It’s worth doing the right thing, even though it may be hard at first.

When you apologize and make amends, two good things happen. First, you’ll respect yourself more. AND you’ll strengthen your relationship with others because people will respect you when you’re strong enough to own up to your mistakes.

These celebrities have some important things to say about the personal strengths of responsibility and accountability:

“If people were really to sit down and honestly look at themselves and the consequences of their actions, they would try to live their lives a lot differently.” - George Lucas

“You’re completely responsible for what you do. And the struggle with that responsibility is the whole challenge in life.” - Bill Murray

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” - Bruce Lee

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Developing a Strong Work Ethic Takes Work

Several years ago I went on a “ladies only” weekend with six friends to a cabin that one of them owned in the mountains. We got along well and had a lot of fun together.

But I noticed one very interesting thing over the course of the 3 days.

A few of us consistently pitched in to help clean up the dishes after a meal, while others were content to sit around and watch.

I found it curious that the thought never seemed to cross their minds about making a contribution or doing their fair share.

We were all about the same age and from similar economic backgrounds, so it wasn't a difference in generations or finances.

I’m pretty sure I know one key reason, based on other situations I've witnessed over the years.

It’s rooted in the development of a strong work ethic in childhood.

Think back to your own childhood. What kinds of chores were you required to do when you were growing up?

In my family, I was the #2 daughter with four younger brothers. My sister and I were given regular chores from the time we were very young. As our brothers got older, they had their jobs, too. The complexity of our tasks increased as we got older, but we always understood that we were expected to do our part as members of the family.

We were encouraged to babysit and have paper routes to earn money. My parents did not hand out money to us, throw us lavish birthday parties or buy us things just because we wanted them.

Each one of us developed a strong work ethic because of the tone and expectations my parents set.

Parents need to instill in their children at a very early age the idea that they are not the center of the universe. They are part of a larger entity – the family – and everyone needs to be a contributor at whatever level is appropriate for their age.

It’s important to gradually give more responsibilities as kids get older. The idea is, by the time they reach adulthood, they are prepared to support themselves, live independently and contribute to society at large.

That means, along the way they acquire personal strengths like:

Initiative - They see what needs to be done and do it without being asked.

Effort - They’re willing to work hard, giving the best they have.

Responsibility - They “own” certain tasks or jobs – e.g., washing dishes, taking out the trash, or cleaning the bathrooms.

Accountability - They know there will be consequences if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do.

Parents who don’t make time to teach their children these strengths do them a serious disservice. These kids are not ready to be responsible, independent adults.

Children will not automatically acquire a strong work ethic.It takes conscious effort and work on the part of their parents.

Denny Coates and I recently devoted one episode of our Strong for Parenting Podcast to this topic:
A Strong Work Ethic – Prepare Your Child for the Challenges of Life.

If you’re a parent who’s committed to making sure that your child grows up to be an independent, responsible adult, this episode is one you will not want to miss.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Larry Winget – Truth-telling at Its Best

I’ve always been attracted to people who can articulate the truth with utter clarity and simplicity.

Larry Winget is that kind of person, and I was spell-bound as I listened to him speak at the GKIC SuperConference in April. What made him unique was his ability to incorporate humor into serious subjects. The truth goes down easier when you can laugh along the way.

The titles of his best-selling books tell you all you need to know about his unique approach:
Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life
You’re Broke Because You Want to Be
It’s Called Work for a Reason!
People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It!
Your Kids Are Your Own Fault 
Larry likes to reduce important truths to their simplest form.

He found 500 books on “the secrets of customer service.” His summary: BE NICE.

For the 600 books on “the secrets of selling,” he boils it down to: “ASK. If they say no, ask again. If they say no again, ask somebody else. Don’t be stupid.”

And he really got my attention when he talked about taking personal responsibility and raising children to be successful adults.

Not many speakers would be willing to state this to an audience, for fear of offending someone: “If your 30 year-old still lives in his bedroom at your house, you’re a failure as a parent.”

If you agree that the ultimate purpose of parenting is to produce independent, responsible adults (which I do), then he’s absolutely right.

He also poked holes at ideas often proclaimed as truth by motivational speakers. Here are my two favorites.

Myth: You can have it all.
Reality: You cannot have it all. You have to choose. You HAVE to say no to some things.

We’re told we can GET rich or GET skinny or GET successful. But you have to give up some other things in order to GET the results you want.

Larry outlined a simple 3-step plan that requires only 3 sheets of paper. Invest the time to give thoughtful answers (99% of people won’t do this), and you’ll see exactly what changes you need to make.

1. Where you ARE in every area of your life now – e.g., financial, relationships, health, business, personal life

2. Where you WANT TO BE in all these areas

3. What you’ve got to give up to get from where you are to where you want to be

Myth: As long as you’ve got a good, positive attitude, you’ll have a good life.
Reality: No, a positive attitude “doesn’t keep crap from happening” to you.

And then he stated my favorite line of the day:

“We need the ability to DEAL with all the crap that happens.”

Why did this resonate so deeply with me?

Because this one truth summarizes the work we’ve been doing in our company for the past 20 years. We know that people need to have inner strengths already established, so they can draw on these when faced with the challenges they’ll encounter. That’s why the tagline for our ProStar Coach system is “Strong for Work, Strong for Life.”

If you haven’t invested time in developing personal strengths like perseverance, composure, responsibility, flexibility, self-discipline, focus and courage, you can’t instantly turn them on when you find yourself in a situation where you need to use them. They are patterns of behavior that you develop over time.

So if you’re one of the 1% who actually takes time to complete the 3-step plan above, be sure to list the personal strengths you’ll need to develop in order to handle all the “crap” that you’ll face on your journey.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Professional Football Player" Is an Oxymoron in Some Cases

I’m a big fan of college sports, especially college basketball. I only watch professional sports on occasion. After what I’ve seen recently, I’m very glad that’s the case.

In one recent NFL game, a receiver caught a pass near the sideline of the opposing team. Afterwards, he tossed the football at one of the assistant coaches and then proceeded to make taunting gestures at him.

In another game, a player caught the football in the end zone and scored a touchdown. He was standing when he made the catch, but afterwards he dramatically fell on his back, then jumped up and started beating his chest and prancing around.

In both cases, the officials threw penalty flags. But the 10- or 15-yard penalties seemed minor consequences compared to the disregard shown to the other team and the fans.

Other times players even threw punches at each other. Some of these resulted in penalties but others did not.

I found myself asking, “Why do the coaches tolerate this kind of behavior? Why don’t they make these players sit out the rest of the game…at a MINIMUM?”

Players who lack self-control and composure need to be held accountable for their actions. Period. If they’re allowed to act this way on the field, what else might they do?

I learned something from the business world that applies to sports teams as well: The standard is set by the lowest-performing person on the team. 

In sports, when someone gets away with showing off or using violence, the other players take note of that. If no serious consequences occur, then others may do something even more outrageous to see just how far they can go.

Why I object to players exhibiting such unprofessional behavior... 

1 - They forget they’re part of a team.

The flagrant disregard for the impact their actions might have on their team shows lack of respect and consideration. They’re concerned only about what feels good to them at that moment. I suspect this narcissistic approach is not limited to the football field.

2 - They set a poor example for young viewers.

People who play professional sports have a responsibility to their fans. Whether they want to be or not, they serve as role models for those who watch their games. Kids in particular are paying close attention to what they say and do…and what happens (or doesn’t happen) as a result.

I would like to see more team owners and coaches take a stronger stand against the actions of self-centered players who disregard the greater good in favor of their own wants and desires.

The truly outstanding coaches understand that they are not just trying to win games. They will win more games when they recognize they have a responsibility to develop human beings who strive for excellence and work hard to be a positive influence in the world.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Consequences Need to Follow Irresponsible Behavior

I was shaking my head as I left the doctor’s office today. And it wasn’t because of anything he did.

It was what one of the staff told me about her son, who graduated from college last May.

“John” has been unemployed and living at home since then. He makes no effort to get a job. Instead, he plays video games all day and stays in his room when his mother comes home for lunch because he doesn’t want to listen to her complain about his lifestyle. She and her husband are making car and insurance payments for his car in addition to all his living expenses. She said he griped a few days ago when she asked him to clean his bathroom.

Unbelievable, right?

That’s what I thought, anyway, and I told her so. I don’t usually offer unsolicited input, but this seems like an explosion waiting to happen. I felt an obligation to speak up.

Here are just a couple of the observations I shared.
"John has no reason to change his behavior because you and his father aren’t requiring him to experience any discomfort or consequences for his actions. You’re enabling him to continue with his current lifestyle." 
"He may be addicted to video games. If that’s the case, consider counseling to figure out the best course of action and how you and your husband can support each other."
She seemed to be listening, yet her responses suggested that she was stuck in the details of the problem, which prevented her from considering another perspective. For instance, when I pointed out that trying to get him to clean the bathroom was only touching the tip of the problem, she honestly didn’t “get” it.

This incident reminded me of the importance – for parents, leaders, teachers and coaches – of teaching others about personal responsibility…and that there are consequences for irresponsible behavior. Wishing, hoping, and worrying will not result in someone else altering his or her behavior.

Instead, clear communication of what’s expected up-front is essential, as well as what will happen if those expectations are not met.

As parents, we want to think the best of our children. We want to trust them to make good decisions and think through the potential effects of their actions. But it’s OUR responsibility as parents to teach them how to do this. It doesn’t happen automatically.

We must take an active role in guiding and directing young people to grow into fully-functioning adults, or we will be sending them into the world ill-equipped to deal with life and all its challenges.

Coincidentally, my business partner, Denny Coates, made a similar post earlier this week and shares some very important insights for parents: Why Teens Need Help - The Consequences of Poor Judgment.