I believe personal responsibility is the single most important mindset you need to adopt to see success in any area of your life.
Every single post I have written, or will ever write, on this site must begin with this mindset.
Anything you have been succeeding at, you will have adopted this frame; even if you don’t realise it.
What I am going to do in this post is make you aware of it. So you’re able to do it on purpose; to achieve more in the areas you want to achieve success.
Personal Responsibility: Overview
The one thing you must understand about this world, is that you are in control of your destiny.
Perhaps not 100%, but flip it around… Nobody else can make something happen for you.
Only you can consistently exert a degree of control over what happens in your life.
Whether you believe in free will or not. Think the universe has a pre-ordained plan for you. Or that everything is just karma…
It doesn’t matter.
If you live as if you have control over your life, you will succeed.
Even if you actually don’t have control; the belief that you do have is empowering.
Sitting back and letting things happen to you leaves you completely at the mercy of anyone or anything that will not have your best interests at heart.
Locus of Control
Before I introduce this concept, you should take the test on the link below. If I write too much it will bias your answers. It’s 13 simple, multi-choice questions that will only take 2-3 minutes.
Take the test first, and then come back with your result.
The locus of control test is measuring how much you believe life is ‘within your control’, versus how much you believe life ‘happens to you’.
It’s a psychological test measuring the degree to which you take personal responsibility for your life outcomes.
It’s been correlated strongly with both job performance, and life satisfaction.
My result is below:
To be honest, if the questions were phrased better I would have scored a 0.
However, I also believe that there might well be a pre-determined plan, karma, and no free will.
If that is indeed the case, then it is out of my control that I believe and act as if I do have control.
I do not, and can not, know the absolute truth.
While the philosophical scenarios are fun to think about, all we can do is try and live the best life we possibly can.
Believing you have control of your destiny will serve you in living a better life.
The test is just a way to quantify things, to get your beliefs outside of your head and see them in front of you. This awareness will allow you to adjust the beliefs, if you so desire.
Some things are outside of your control, but…
I know what you might be thinking…
“It’s alright for you to say, but I…”
For sure, some things happen that are outside of your control.
You cannot influence where you’re born, your height, genetic issues. You cannot change your parents, or the environment of your early life.
Absolutely a lot of things are outside of your control.
You can acknowledge that fact, and accept it… or you let it hold you back from making the most of whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
Don’t beat yourself up…
Shit happens. People suffer.
If you’ve been born with a genetic disease, or were abused as a kid that is not your fault.
Of course it’s not.
I see some people take the “take personal responsibility” thing too far, where they blame themselves or beat themselves up.
Even things that were in your control and you fuck up. Learn the lesson and move on. Beating yourself up will not serve you.
Punishing yourself is not going to help.
The purpose of this post it to give you the frame to look at the world through which best serves your interests. Beating yourself up is not going to do that.
Rather than focus on what is wrong, or the negatives that have happened; try to keep a positive mental attitude.
That means focusing on the good things in life, and feeling gratitude for just how damn good we have it.
The fact that you’re reading this on the internet, through a laptop or smart phone… rather than choking in a coal mine, or watching barbarians behead your brothers and rape your sisters… is nothing short of amazing.
There has never been a better time to be alive.
At no other time in history have people who are not born into the 0.001% had even 5% of the opportunities for success that we all have, right now.
You can be, have, or do anything you want… if you work for it.
Most importantly, practice gratitude towards yourself. Love yourself. Forgive yourself.
I suggest keeping a gratitude journal to begin this habit. Get a notebook and keep it next to your bed.
At the end of each day, write down 3 things you’re grateful for that day, and 3 reasons you have to love yourself that day.
Gratitude, happiness, and anything else, is a habit. If you practice it, you will start to internalise it.
Taking personal responsibility means taking responsibility for the good, just as much as for the bad.
Solution based thinking
The key to moving forwards is to stop complaining.
To stop looking at setbacks as permanent failures, and find another way forwards.
Practise thinking of solutions, instead of reasons why something won’t work, or can’t be done.
Be quick to let go of failures, and move on to the next opportunity.
Everybody who is even remotely successful (in any area of life) fails a lot. The difference is, their vision is so powerful that as soon as one avenue closes, they’re already off down the next one.
Where can you take a win from what would otherwise be a loss?
Every sports team goes away and analyses the videos after they lose (or win).
They can see where they were weak, where the other team caught them out, and what they need to focus their training on.
That information is invaluable. That is a win.
Not every marketing campaign I put out is a roaring success in making sales.
Sometimes stuff doesn’t work, but every time you leave with more information than you began with.
Every single time you try something, you’re filling in parts of the map which were previously blank.
There are always lessons to be taken, if we ‘fail’.
How can I take personal responsibility for the past?
If we begin this line of thinking from the day you became an adult, you can always look back on things that have gone wrong and find ways to take responsibility for your part.
This is empowering, because it shows you how to become better.
The world is giving you constant feedback, all you have to do is recognise it.
For example; every relationship holds a tonne of lessons.
Even if she cheats on you, dumps you, whatever. How is that your fault?
Did you not manage expectations in the beginning? Did she leave for a better man? Did you fail to communicate or take time to understand what she wanted?
Of course, it isn’t 100% your fault. It might not even be 10% your fault. If someone randomly sucker punches you in the street, that isn’t your fault…
But there is still value in saying; how could I change, so this doesn’t happen again?
Being more aware of your surroundings? Bulking up so people don’t mess with you?
There’s always value to be taken from a bad situation.
How can I let go of the past?
Taking personal responsibility for your role in past events, and finding lessons in it, allows you to move on.
You can let go of the past when you have balanced your emotions. That means finding some positive in a negative situation.
As soon as you can feel gratitude for an event, for the lessons and growth opportunities it provided, you can let it go and move beyond it.
Ask yourself, where can you start taking personal responsibility in an area of life you’re looking to improve?