Recently I read a book about success. The very first or second thing in the book was the question, Do you take responsibility for your life? I thought this was interesting from the point of view that we hear individuals young and old who want to push off that responsibility from themselves onto anything else. Then there is the thought that there is no in-between. You either take responsibility all of the time or you don’t.
When we take that responsibility is when we can begin to have success in life, because we recognize that the results we have achieved, good or bad, are the results of the choices we have made.
The same is true with the question of dependability. Dependable individuals make mistakes. But when they do they do 3 things.
- Take responsibility
- Make it right
With the world filled with individuals who are quick to say, “It’s not my fault”, “It’s not my job”, “I forgot”, and every other excuse in the world, it is great to be around people who take the responsibility and in lieu of trying to lay blame, look for ways to solve problems or take on challenges that need attention.
That is what dependability is about. Being honest with ourselves and others, being dependable even when it is not comfortable, not making excuses or laying blame, is the way we act as leaders and we gain the trust of those around us.
All of us have friends that we like to hang out with and do things with. Not all of our friends and acquaintances will have the same goals or even values that we have. So what would happen if one of our friends asks us to take part in something that is not a good choice for us? We know what that is called. It is peer pressure.
No matter your age there is peer pressure on everyone and all of us must use our discipline so we do not allow others to get in the way of us making good choices for ourselves. Every choice we make is going to have a result or a consequence. It can be good for us and move us closer to reaching our goals and living our values or it can be bad for us and result in a bad consequence.
What would happen if we gave in to peer pressure to use drugs or alchohol, take part in an unsafe prank, or to not tell our parents the truth about a matter? What would happen if we allow others goals for us to sway us from our own goals?
Even as teens and adults we can be swayed to consider following a line of work or education that does not really fit into our ‘purpose’ in life – or into what really makes us happy. Then years later as we trudge through life and realize we are not happy, we may blame others for making us follow a certain course.
Be 100% responsible for yourself. Recognize that “Discipline is remembering what you want.” So what are the goals you are going after, that you really want to reach? Think for yourself, do not be pushed by others to do something that is not in line with your goals and stay focused.
Just because your friend are doing it – does not mean that we should do it too. When you have discipline, you think for yourself!
We have talked about all the rules and those that make them for us the last time with a special emphasis on the rules that we make up for ourselves. When we make rules for ourselves like, ‘I am going to listen intently to others when they speak to me’, or I am going to work diligently to learn this new skill, it is far more likely that we will demonstrate discipline and fulfill this promise to ourselves.
Really though it is about making choices. Every choice that we make has an outcome and a ‘consequence’ that goes with it. This is a very simple principle that is key for our children to learn. It is important for them to correlate choices with consequences – good and bad.
The formula is very simple E + R = O. Event plus your Response (choice) will have an Outcome. When we decide as adults or children that we will be 100% responsible for our choices and there outcomes (consequences) then we will be well on our way to creating the life that we want for ourselves.
How do we teach this to our children? We can do this by creating opportunities for some choices and then allowing them to have some failures and reap the consequences that go with them. We only make progress in any endeavor when we have a failure and then work through it and get better / stronger on the other side.
Never having a failure or not being allowed to have a disappointment from time to time does not build character. It only builds an attitude of entitlement that will soon learn that in the real world not everything is going to go our way.
Winston Churchill once said; “The price of greatness is responsibility.” But have you ever known someone who wants the power and glory and wants to be in charge, but as soon as something goes wrong does not want to take responsibility for anything? We saw this on a large scale in the past few months with the economic crisis here in the United States.
The same thing happens in our individual homes and families too. One thing that will always be true is that the choices we make today will affect us not just today but many times for years to come. That is why I continue to emphasis to our students not to think about not doing something because they might get in trouble – but rather because the choices we make have a long term affect on us and we want to do what is right because it is right.
The way we deal with choices and responsibility affects our ability to be a leader in our family or in government. When we blame others, we give up our power to affect change. Dealing with choice and consequences responsibly impacts our ability to be a leader.
On June the 6th I gave the commencement speech at Benfield Elementary school. This is a re-recording of this speech. In the coming weeks I will be posting some items here that will hopefully help parents and students make the transition into middle school.
This speech is a mix of Dr. Seuss and thoughts on choices and respect.