Responsibility and honesty are paired together; they are indivisible. If you don’t know yourself, if you don’t see your deeds and thoughts, you can’t really own them. They are something that happens to you, not what you make happen.
You must consciously acknowledge your thoughts and your actions to take responsibility for them. If you don’t, you act as a kid. If you are a parent, I’m sure you have the experience with “What? That’s not me! That’s my sibling’s fault! It’s him! It’s her!” It seems like exporting the blame is the default children’s behaviour.
But you are not a child. The adult definition I’m the fondest is: “A person you can count on.” Can you count on someone who doesn’t own his mistakes and doesn’t learn from them? Or someone who looks to export blame instead of looking for solutions? Would you like to work with someone like this?
Don’t be that “someone.” Your thoughts, reactions and actions are yours and not anyone else’s. Take the effort to examine your heart and muster the courage to face the conclusions. This was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life.
Responsibility Doesn’t End Within You
You start being responsible by taking full credit for your actions. But you don’t stop there. It’s just the beginning. To be fully responsible, you take responsibility for others with whom you interact. Your co-workers, employees, congregation, and family–your responsibility encompasses them all.
For me, that was the most excruciating experience. I was used to not considering myself a good guy. Every average person knows what I am talking about; the self-talk of an average person is so full of crap that a high self-esteem is downright impossible. No one has ever used such vicious invectives against me that I used in my head on a daily basis. I had little to no problem thinking bad about myself.
Then I started taking responsibility for my life. That was hard.
The next step, however, was the worst torture. I examined my family life and concluded my wife and kids are not doing well.
They don’t have a mission in their lives; they don’t even consider having one. They are not committed or dedicated to improve their lives. They are aimless and they aimlessly enjoy, or rather, indulge in, petty pleasures like watching soap operas or playing computer games.
Self-honesty and responsibility say that this is all my fault. That’s unbearable. I cringe every time I think about it.
Duty is heavier than a mountain; death is lighter than a feather.
It’s very hard to live with such guilt. But, do you know what’s even harder? Giving up.
If I give up, I’ll lose any remote chance of positively influencing my family. I can’t just join them in front of the computer, the TV, or indulge in my worthless pleasures. Had I succumbed to my love of comfort and did nothing, there would have been 100% chance I wouldn’t help them. Only if I commit to my progress will I get a chance to uplift them.
Responsible leaders push forward, because even if they don’t realize that on a conscious level, they feel in their guts that there is no way back. That’s the real power of responsibility: when you assume it, you can only progress; getting stale or moving backward is your fault.
But you already know yourself all too well; your burden of guilt is already heavy enough. You examined yourself and discovered how thoroughly you are responsible for every evil in your life. Additional burden is something you simply can’t bear, isn’t it?
Lying is easy. When you are dishonest about your motives or delusional about them, you can stand staying in your comfort zone. But you cannot say in the light of truth: “I’m responsible for this; I’ll give up anyway, blame it on me.”
Such a load of guilt is mind-crushing; it’s unthinkable. Moving forward and overcoming obstacles; pain, blood, sweat, and tears, is easier than that. You will sooner give away your last breath than stop or go back.
Ruthless Self-Honesty is Not Easy
You need a lot of practice to be appropriately ruthless. I examine myself every day. I noticed that many of my activities are still smoke and mirrors. I do something just for the sake of doing, so I can cross an item from my list and tell myself: “You see, I’ve done something; take me off the hook now and allow me to play comp/ read fiction/ eat sweets.”
My subconscious learned that I cannot bear the thought of abandoning my mission, so it tries to just go through the motions in order to satisfy me. If I’m not focused, I get cheated, and it wins. If I’m aware, I can see through this illusion and push harder or smarter.
Responsibility Is Worth It
If you truly embrace the full responsibility, you will get a powerful motivator. You can’t beat the person who is not giving up; you will be unbeatable.
Even going through the motions is better than no motions at all.
As long as you show up, there is a chance you will succeed.
Embracing the responsibility burns the bridges. The way back is closed forever. It’s scary like hell. It’s painful like no other positive trait.
As Churchill said, it’s a price for greatness. It’s the price well worth it.
3 thoughts on “Responsibility and Ruthless Self-Honesty”
You said, “If I’m aware I can see through this illusion and push harder or smarter.” Great article, Michal. It reminds me a lot of don Miguel Ruiz’s ‘The Four Agreements.’ Be impeccable with your word. THAT is where everything starts. And you can’t just be wishy/washy about it – you’ve got to follow it through with an action instead of an excuse!! 🙂
Julie, you have the way with words. You condensed my post into 1 sentence 😀
Wise words Michal,
Thanks for sharing!
You’re absolutely right, we all have a responsibility beyond our own interests to be honest.
The older I get the more I think that responsibility, ownership of ones own situation, and honesty are things we need more and more of because there seems to be less and less of it in the world.
Then again, I might just be more aware of how blind some folks are to their own impending consequences and how full of nonsense other people are.
I don’t mean to sound cynical. I’m really quite optimistic that millennials and younger generations will be more honest with themselves and take proper responsibility for their circumstance.
These are the first generations – at least in a long time- that have seen how systems break down when sheep follow other sheep and when people ignore common sense in the interest of short-term gain or public opinion.
Again – Thanks for the post. Keep up the great work!