“I exist not to be loved and admired, but to love and act. It is not the duty of those around me to love me; rather, it is my duty to be concerned about the world.” — Janusz Korczak
Winston Churchill has been attributed as saying that the price of greatness is responsibility, so if we are to take this notion seriously then we may consider another notion called “radical responsibility.” This kind of responsibility calls us to take responsibility for everything. In a society that likes to point fingers and play the blame game, this is truly an important concept that many of us might do well to incorporate into our daily practices. When we take this concept seriously we’ll likely find that we have much more control over our lives than we ever believed possible.
One of the key benefits of taking responsibility is that it puts us in charge. Consider this: every time we blame someone or something else for our current or past circumstances we are effectively releasing the reigns of control over our lives. Radical responsibility, on the other hand, helps keep us in control so that we can always stay hopeful in our daily lives.
While radical responsibility can be a powerful approach, it’s also important to remember that there’s a difference between what we can and cannot influence. Only a fool would take responsibility for something for which there’s no true control over. We can fight gravity all we want, or we can choose instead to move with it. If we do choose to fight it, however, just be prepared to lose every time. True responsibility, then, calls us to carefully choose our actions well to work with—rather than against—the very things that we can’t control.
We all want to change the world but few of us want to actually change ourselves. The Magic Word Responsibility reminds us that an important step in the pursuit of our supreme efforts is to identify our responsibilities and take radical action to tend to them.
What responsibilities do you have to yourself? To your family and friends? To your work, coworkers and bosses? To your neighbors and community? What are you responsibilities to the human race and planet?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.