There are quite a lot of objective and subjective definitions of “responsibility”. The dictionary suggests that “responsibility” is:
I don’t know about you, but for me, it doesn’t explain anything. If I were to learn about responsibility this definition would be the last thing I would go for. So, instead of memorizing the definition of responsibility, let’s really dig into it and try to understand it.
Recently, I came across this video by Will Smith “Fault vs. Responsibility” where he speaks very clearly about what being responsible is about, and how it affects your life directly. He also draws a line between the fault and responsibility which makes it pretty clear what each of them means, and how you can become more responsible by understanding the difference between the two.
I 100% agree with what Will Smith has said in the video, however, I wanted to drop a few lines of my own attitude and thoughts about responsibility.
If you’re committed to self-development, and really into setting smart goals, and learning about yourself, you might have come across a variety of terms such as “practical resilience” and “life resilience”.
Practical resilience aka life resilience is a skill that helps you overcome various life obstacles. Practical resilience is about gaining knowledge and transforming it into an experience and then using that killer database to fight different challenges. Moreover, as you train that skill of problem-solving you contribute to your natural resilience development.
Being resilient is a foundation of responsibility. I would even say that resilience equals responsibility and vice versa. Let me explain.
I happened to be a witness of an interesting life situation where I had to play a very important role. I had to shut up and listen to complaints. Here is the deal.
There are two characters Mary and Helen. Mary is Helen’s mother. Helen has a really important task. She was selected to take part in the student exchange program and now she needs to fill in a lot of forms and documents.
Helen is a 14-year old girl which is just starting to learn about being responsible. Also, she is a crazy teenager like most of us used to be. She had 3 days to fill in the forms. A fair part of the documents was clear, however, there were questions which she couldn’t understand. Helen asked her mother: “Ma, can you help me with this question?”
Marry says: “Err, no I don’t understand it. Do it yourself”, a generous mother’s response. Helen was ready to hear something like that because this is not the first time she gets no help in solving her questions. So, she thinks: “Ah, screw it!” If nobody wants to help me I’ll do my “best”, and I don’t care what’s going to happen. With this thought, she was filling the form for 3 days alone and made a few mistakes.
Marry said: “How dare you making mistakes. You should be more attentive. Why would this simple task take you some much time? You must be responsible.”
Now, what do you think has just happened? Who do you consider guilty in this situation? Who has failed to be responsible?
In Helen’s age, teenagers strive for being responsible. They need challenges to train their responsibility. However, if there is too little or too much work on them they will rebel. This is the case where too much has prevailed. However, let’s break down this example and see where the responsibility is and how both of them had to activate it.
Helen had an important task. Moreover, getting into the exchange program was her dream. She messed it up simply because she has let her emotions and lack of “responsibility feeling” interrupt her duty.
She didn’t know how to solve the problem and so she tried seeking help. She asked her mother to help her. Mother refused to help for whatever reason. Now, Helen, instead of being committed to her dream said: “Nobody wants to help me. I don’t care”.
However, the mother is not “everybody”. It’s one person. And it took one second to ask her for help. Helen obviously has friends, she has a father, teachers at school and other people whom she potentially could have asked to help her. She hadn’t.
What could Helen do instead?
Why did she fail? Nobody has ever taught her how to be responsible and resilient.
Of course, she made a mistake, of course, she was demotivated to complete the task to perfection, of course, she didn’t call anybody else. Partly, because she is a teenager, and also because she had a bad teacher.
In this situation, Marry said: “I don’t understand. Do it yourself” and then she blamed Helen for being irresponsible. That’s what a classic parent would do.
As a parent, Marry is responsible for her child. She is responsible for teaching Helen the right thing. When she said: “I don’t understand. Do it yourself” she has shown indifference. Marry taught Helen how to be non-resilient, careless and irresponsible.
Marry wants her kid to be the best in the world. However, what she wants does not necessarily true until there is a live example that has some certain level of authority and credibility. When a parent fails to show what being responsible is, there is no way you can expect a teenager to be responsible.
What could Marry do/say instead?
It would be a perfect example of being responsible and resilient. They might have not figured that thing out together, however, they would try. I’m 99% sure that they would find a way if they tried, but they never did.
Both of them failed to be responsible.
There are millions of other examples that could be given here like when somebody offers you a drink at a party, and you don’t normally drink. So, you have two choices either accept it or reject it. If you reject it you’re the picture of responsibility. Nothing has changed, and everything is under control.
However, it’s more interesting what happens if you accept it. What happens if you choose to drink? You need to give yourself a credit for what you’re doing. If you’re fully responsible for your actions and you’re totally okay with what it may lead to – accept the drink. Get drunk as a lord. However, be ready to suffer the consequences or simply enjoy your time without blaming the other guy for making you drunk.
In life, we oftentimes choose to blame others. We try to find fault with everybody, however, we refuse to be responsible for ourselves. That’s okay.
People who don’t like to be responsible for their miseries will always find excuses for what they could have done but failed because, because, because. They always feel like they didn’t achieve anything in life. Sometimes, we don’t see why responsibility is important and what it means to take responsibility. However, you can always learn to be responsible by paying attention to small details that surround you. Such microinteractions as in the examples above should give you a better idea of where to look for responsibility.
People who are responsible for their actions will commit to being resilient and try their best to overcome their struggles, momentary happiness, and distractions. Responsible people don’t blame others. They don’t blame themselves. They take a situation as an opportunity to learn and convert that knowledge into experience. They use this experience to overcome future problems and develop problem-solving skills as well as natural resilience.
Your life is your responsibility. You may not have chosen it. However, it’s your choice to live it. I encourage you to make your life a dream. A dream that you can convert into reality if you choose so. Dream big and enjoy your life.
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