Being responsible for our lives is a no brainer. If we are asked the question of whether we take responsibility for our lives, the majority of us would say, “but, of course.” Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But this can be a question worth exploring deeper. In my earlier work as a clinician, then as a consultant and coach, I discovered that even the most successful person invariably had an area or issue that they had sidled away from taking responsibility – whether consciously or unconsciously.
Here are a couple of examples–a top executive while “hitting the numbers” and running a very reputable and successful business, gave up responsibility of “being a father” and spending much quality time ( or any at all!) with his young kids. His rationale – his partner was super organized and while holding down her own demanding job also managed the home life including the children. Given one of his top values was family, the irony of this hit him sharply and he consequently committed to making time with the kids before they were put to bed. A solution that he felt was realistic and achievable especially the weeks he was home and not out of the country.
A successful female executive who works hard to keep her life balanced – home, work, her two older teenagers and her fitness including time spent outdoors in physical pursuits. Yet she noticed that as soon as she gets into a relationship, this balance goes haywire. She said, “It’s as if I give up the reins of my life over to my new partner and let him have first call on any free time – very much to my own detriment!” In both these examples, there were certain beliefs driving the “giving up the reins” behavior and attitude. And our beliefs and attitudes typically come from our early family conditioning. Sometimes there is even a total blind spot about these.
“Responsibility is the price of greatness”
– Winston Churchill
In the sporting arena, we have recently seen more gross examples where individuals and organizations demonstrate a dire lack of integrity, trust, responsibility and accountability. These include the international match fixing scam in soccer, the Australian doping scandal which has just emerged – a huge blow to their proud sporting self-image and who can forget Lance Armstrong’s continuous denial until he was left with no choice. And with the latter, I am not convinced that even now he remotely “gets” what values like responsibility and accountability mean.
If you look at the various aspects or roles in your life where might you have given up the reins? Is there some place you would do better to “pick up the reins” again and have a greater say in the matter? If you did, how might your life be more enriched, balanced and fuller? I look forward to your thoughts!
Ask yourself every day, were your thoughts, words and actions aligned? Ask someone else what they saw in you too. Feedback is the food of all positive change.
Jasbindar Singh is a coaching psychologist working with managers and leaders to enhance their self awareness and leadership effectiveness. She is also accredited in the powerful Integrity and Values profiling tool to help her clients identify their strengths and trust blind spots.