When you saw the title of this blog post, what did you think was going to be the thing that men dread the most?
Was it a colonoscopy?
Going to the dentist?
Or was it getting on a bathroom scale?
Well, it’s none of those things. What most men dread the most is…
Taking responsibility. Indeed, George Shaw had it right when he said, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it”.
You see, liberty is freedom, freedom to think for ourselves and live our lives in accordance with our own rational thought. “Give me liberty or give me death!”, that famous quote by Patrick Henry brings forth a deep and perhaps less obvious implication for everyone – it’s either or. It is either liberty OR death, because liberty entitles you to your life. A life lived in servitude, a life directed by anything other than the dictates of one’s own conscience, is no real life at all.
However, to have a life of our own decisions, also means we have to accept the consequences (good and bad) of those decisions. We have to take responsibility. If you buy a house for more than you can afford that limits your ability to invest for your future, you’re to blame. Married the wrong person and they ran up a bunch of credit card debt? You both are to blame. Run a business unsuccessfully until it fails? That’s on you too.
You cannot make a decision and then avoid the consequences. If you want to have freedom, if you want to make your own decisions and embrace free agency, and live your life the way you see fit, then you absolutely have to accept responsibility for the life you choose to live. This is easy when our decisions go according to plan and the consequences are desirable. The true test comes when things don’t go as we would like them. If you blame your problems and failures—big or small, personal or professional—on other people, circumstances beyond your control, or just plain bad luck, you will not be successful.
The good news?
Responsibility is not just a mind-set or “something you do” —it’s a skill-set that everyone can learn. It’s a way of thinking and being.
So, here are a few tips on how to embrace responsibility:
Be responsible “either way.” It’s easy to claim responsibility when things go well, but it’s hard when they don’t. A truly responsible person, however, accepts responsibility either way. So when you are making decisions about spending and investing, be 100% responsible for the outcomes. Not a little. Not somewhat. Not pretty much. Own it 100%—good or bad—with no wiggle room. They say the measure of a man is what he does when nobody is looking. That’s true. It’s also true that a man is measured by his ability to “own it”, even when nobody is looking.
Build responsibility into your decisions. The ancient Romans had a tradition. Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the keystone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch. Its fundamental element is recognizing that you must begin with the end in mind, if you are to take control of your financial life. The question “Who is accountable for my financial well-being?” seeks to determine who is ultimately responsible for it, whether it is outstanding or poor. Successful people create a mental connection between their responsibilities and their actions and consequences and forthrightly accept accountability for them. But accountability is not just retrospective. The primary value of accountability is its effect on your behavior. When you feel accountable for what happens as a result of what you do or do not do, then there is a natural tendency to try to avoid adverse results — because they will reflect on you! Your net worth, credibility or standing may all be degraded. Thus, successful people find ways to adhere to high personal standards of deportment and performance that promote their ability to make better decisions. When you’re truly responsible, you believe that success or failure is up to you. You own your commitment to a result before the fact, before you even take action.
Stop making excuses. Excuses are for those people who live with constant regret about the things that they could have, should have or would have done if… These people never achieve their desired long-term outcomes because their excuses get in the way and prevent them from taking advantage of the opportunities that problems present them with. Success demands that you take full responsibility for everything that happens to you without blaming others or blaming external events or seemingly uncontrollable circumstances for your problems. You are responsible for your decisions and actions, and as a result commit to removing the bad habit of excuse-making from your being. Fully understand that excuses only lead to further problems — they most certainly never help you solve them.
Remember, if you don’t take responsibility for creating the problem, you are literally telling yourself that you also cannot be responsible for coming up with the solution to the problem. That, my friends, is a recipe for victim-hood. Victimization is easy. All you have to do is repeatedly claim someone else is responsible for your pain, suffering, and misfortune.
On the other hand, achieving success is difficult. Success requires you to recognize pain, suffering and misfortune as problems and take responsibility for them. Success demands that you recognize problems, own problems, identify solutions to problems and overcome problems. It is the overcoming of problems that enable you to be classified as successful.
If you practice the “I’m responsible” problem solving mindset often enough, you then learn to project your problem solving mindset onto a business or investment, gain a fortune, and be labeled a success. This kind of mindset is at the very core of every success.
Randy Pausch said, “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”
Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, no matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.
Realizing that you are responsible for what happens next in your life is both frightening and exciting.
And when you do, that becomes the only way you can become successful, because excuses limit and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.
Be responsible. Own your life; no one else will.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
P.S. Why aren’t you wealthy yet? It’s because of something you don’t know. Otherwise you’d already be rich! Isn’t it time to learn what you don’t know? Consider signing-up for my newsletter below, to help you build wealth faster.
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Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below: