Publisher's Note

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    It’s been 22 years ago, when I finally took the risk of a big CHANGE in my life.  From being an executive secretary in a German company, I didn’t know what will happen to my career when I decided to immigrate to Canada.  No one knows our future except our maker up above, but it [...]

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Page added on March 24, 2017

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Responsibility: The First Step of Learning

Responsibility: The First Step of Learning thumbnail

By Consuelo (Chit) E. Munar

The New World Dictionary defines responsibility as a “condition, quality, fact, or instance of being accountable; answerable; able to distinguish between right and wrong, and think and act rationally.”  We tend to think of responsibility as something given to  us by someone who is in a position of authority, such as a parent or an employer. That is often the case but responsibility is also something we must be willing to take. “Responsibility is the most important ability that a person can possess.”

The truth is if  individuals don’t take responsibility, they give up control of their lives. Nothing happens to advance their potential until they step up and say, “I am responsible.”

What happens when someone don’t take responsibility?  When people fail or make mistakes, they just don’t want to face up those things. And when they do long enough, a pattern begins to emerge in their lives.  First, they develop a victim mentality. Rather than taking responsibility for their lives, many people tries to take the easy way out by establishing themselves as victims of society, the economy, or  a conspiracy. A victim mind-set causes people to focus on what they cannot do instead of what they can do.  This becomes a recipe for continued failure.

“Those things that hurt, instruct,” wrote Benjamn Franklin. Make an effort to understand how life works and accept it. Instead of focusing on why things happen, we are better off learning how things work.  There are more lessons to be learned, and those lessons prepare us for future battles.

Another pattern that people fall into when they don’t take responsibility is “blame-storming.”  It’s the creative process used for finding an appropriate scapegoat or excuse. Insurance companies are normally recipients of many creative excuses from drivers who refuse to take responsibility for themselves.  Any form of blame-storming may be handy in a moment but it’s not helpful in the long run.  A person can’t grow and learn if he/she focuses on finding someone else to blame instead of looking at his/her own shortcomings and failures.

When we fail to take responsibility, not only do we develop a victim mentality, embrace an unrealistic perspective of how life works, engage in blame-storming but we also eliminate any real possibility of growth for success.  That is the real tragedy of failing to be responsible. Real success is a journey. We have to approach it with a long-term mind-set. We have to hang in there, stay focused, and keep moving forward.

We take our first step in learning when we take responsibility for ourselves. Professor William Raspberry, a Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist said:

“If you want to be thought of as a solid, reliable pillar of your community when you’re fifty, you can’t be an irresponsible, corner-cutting exploiter at twenty-five…The time to worry about your reputation is before you HAVE one. You determine your reputation by deciding who and what you are and by keeping that lofty vision of yourself in mind, even when you’re having a rip-roaring good time.”

In other words, if you take responsibility when you’re young, you have a better chance of gaining wisdom as you get older. For some of us, it takes a long time. Now that I’m officially a senior citizen, I can say there are two things I know about my life. First, it has contained so many surprises. Second, as long as I take responsibility for the things I can control in my life and try my best to learn from them, I can feel pleased and contented.

Taking responsibility doesn’t mean cultivating a negative attitude. It means being willing to see things from a better perspective. The best learners are people who don’t see their losses and failures as permanent but as temporary.  As Patricia Sellers once said,”the most successful people at bouncing back view failure not like a cancer but something that is uncomfortable, a transforming experience.”

What’s the major difference between people who succeed and people who don’t?  It’s not failing..both groups fail. However, the ones who take responsibility for themselves learn from their failures and DO NOT REPEAT THEM.

Why would you think you’ll ever get to a place where you can learn without failing and making mistakes?  If you want to learn more, you need to do more.  You also need to pay attention to what not’s working and make adjustments accordingly. Take responsibility for your choices, reflect on what went wrong and what went right, make adjustments, and try again.  That’s the only way to be successful.


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