Choose: take responsibility or be a victim

Well, much to my surprise, and delight, I received very few unsubscribes after last week’s post and, while I received many e mails from subscribers, the vast majority of them were quite positive. K.K. from Illinois said “Great thought provoking article today! Keep up the great work.” D.S. from Mississippi wrote “This is great!  Keep up the information, I need a boost and you give me what I need. I will definitely forward this one to others, people need to wake up! Thank you so much for all the encouragement!” And C.S. wrote “I cannot thank you enough for posting this newsletter! I am going to forward this on to some of my friends who need this just as much as I did. Although what you have written might have offended some; those offended have to face themselves, which is not always easy.”

And here’s one you really have to read. K. K. from Missouri wrote “Thank you for saying what needed to be said about our country's health. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 3 years ago. With the help of a good doctor, I was able to change my eating habits and lost 57lbs. Although I still am taking Metformin, which desensitizes a body's resistance to use insulin, I have my blood sugar under control, my blood pressure is way down, my cholesterol is well within range, and a lot of the side effect symptoms of these conditions have simply gone away !!”

So with all this encouragement, I’m going to continue on this vein. What was interesting to me is that essentially all of the feedback touched on the health issue I wrote about. But as a business coach, the issue that concerns me the most is the fact that 7 out of 10 of the full time workers in the US are either “checked out” or actively disengaged. This fact is costing our economy 100’s of billions of dollars yearly, if not trillions. The odds are that 7 out of 10 of you reading this are in that group. So whether it’s the health issue or this issue, I asked last week: where do we go from here?

I hope you’ve been thinking about the issues I raised, I surely have. Here’s what I’ve come to next: I think the real issue behind why we choose to stay ignorant, and I still believe we do, is that we really don’t want to take responsibility for our lives. Early in my career as a coach, my very first mentor told me that if I want to have an amazing life, take responsibility for everything. Not only for what I do, but for what others do to me, and even for what others do to others. I chose to take his advice and while I still have a lot to learn, the biggest advantage is that I no longer feel like a victim. What happens in my life is my responsibility, all of it, and I don’t get to blame you or anyone else if I don’t like what I’m experiencing.

My assertion is that few approach life this way. I really think that people get off on blaming others for all of life’s challenges and/or expect others to solve their problems. Take the health issue, for example. People want to do whatever they feel like doing, eat whatever they feel like eating, exercise or not, get adequate sleep or not, and then, when the body breaks down, which it almost has to do, they run to the doctor to solve their problem. I’ll bet that that’s exactly what most of you do.

And at work, regardless of which side of the management issue you’re on, it always seems to be somebody else’s fault when things don’t go the way you like. For people in  a management position, the typical questions are: why aren’t my people motivated; why can’t I get them to be accountable; why can’t people just get along; why can’t I get people to take responsibility and not come running to me for everything. Can you relate?

When I hear managers say things like the above, my comment is always: people are always motivated. Just watch what they take on when they go home. How come you’re not providing them with a reason to bring their motivation to work? What’s their motivation to be accountable? Why don’t you teach people the skills of getting along?

And if you’re on the other side of the management position, the typical issues always seem to be your boss or one or more of your coworkers or the company or the customers. Life would always be great if someone else would just do what you want them to do, the way you want them to do it, and be the way you want them to be. Still with me?

And this is really an even bigger issue than I have expressed here. At the risk of exposing my political perspective, we have an entire political party that believes that people have no ability to be responsible for their own lives and it’s the role of government to take care of everyone. It so offends me. Surely there are some people who need to be taken care of. I’m not heartless. But tens of millions? I’m reminded of the expression: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for life.” So what are we doing? Feeding people or teaching them to fish?

So I leave you with this question: Are you willing to take responsibility for everything in your life? And I mean everything? Two choices, as always: Be responsible or be a victim. Now you choose. As always, I welcome your comments. To be continued.