Responsibility By: Tracy L. Chenoweth
Opening Question • When you think of the word responsibility what kinds of things come to mind? • Let’s collectively make a listing of our ideas on responsibility.
Defining Responsibility • NOUN:pl.re·spon·si·bil·i·ties • The state, quality, or fact of being responsible. • Something for which one is responsible; a duty, obligation, or burden.
Self Test • Answer True or False to the Questions below. Be as honest as you can. • I do what needs to be done. • I am reliable and dependable • I am accountable for my actions; I don’t make excuses or blame others • I fulfill my moral obligations • I use good judgment and think through the consequences of my actions • I exercise self-control
Short Answer Question • I think I am/am not a responsible person because…
Okay, Let’s See How You Did • 1. I do what needs to be done • With regards to myself • With regards to my Family • With regards to my Work • With regards to my Community • With regards to my Religion • With regards to my World
#2 • I am reliable and dependable • If we surveyed people who work with you, live with you, or know you well, would they describe you as a dependable person? • A reputation for dependability is built or destroyed in little ways. • If you prove to be dependable in the small things, you will undoubtedly be dependable in the big things.
Here are some of those little things that matter: • Keep track of any commitment or promise you make --Do you have a method to follow up on yourself? I can't imagine that anyone can be consistently dependable without some efficient follow-up system. It can be a formal method, such as Day Timers, to a simple "to-do" list or calendar, as long as it works! Whatever method you use, be sure to write down all your commitments and follow-up on yourself consistently. If you trust your memory, you will eventually find yourself in trouble. • Return your phone calls promptly --This is a very easy way to buy yourself a lot of credibility. Most people are amazed when someone returns a phone call promptly. It sends a very positive impression of your professionalism, and it also tells that person that his or her call is important to you.
…More Little Things • Don't promise what you cannot personally deliver -- Avoid the tendency to make careless promises ("Under promise, over deliver" is a good motto). • When you realize you cannot fulfill a promise or commitment you've made, for unforeseen reasons, it is far more credible for you to inform that person ahead of time rather than waiting until he or she contacts you. • Take the initiative to let that person know the status of the situation, even though it may not be pleasant to break the bad news.
#3 • I am accountable for my actions: I don’t make excuses or blame others • Understand yourself and the day-to-day choices you make that impact your accomplishments and interactions with others. • Don’t take the easy-way-out and blame others for things going on in your life.
Think and Share • Have you ever really done or said something that you severely regretted? • What was the circumstance? • What emotions were at play? • What happened to cause your reaction? • Could you have done something differently? • Did you think of an alternative later?
#4 • I fulfill my moral obligations.
#5 • I use good judgment and think through the consequence of my actions.
#6 • I exercise self-control.
Behavior Traits • In order to accept personal responsibility you need to develop the ability to: • Seek out and to accept help for yourself • Be open to new ideas or concepts about life and the human condition • Refute irrational believes and overcome fears • Affirm yourself positively • Recognize that you are the sole determinant of the choices you make
…More Behavior Traits • Recognize that you choose your responses to the people, actions, and events in your life. • Let go of anger, fear, blame, mistrust, and insecurity. • Take risks and to become vulnerable to change and growth in your life.
…Still More Behavior Traits • Take off the masks of behavior characteristics behind which you hide low self-esteem. • Reorganize your priorities and goals. • Realize that you are the part in charge of the direction your life takes.
Responsibility Can be Enhanced • There are six steps that can be followed to help develop increased responsibility skills. • Let’s take a look at each one closely.
#1 Awareness • For a skill to be learned, information is presented in various ways to create awareness for each participant as to their present use or non-use of the skill. • That is what today is all about; a chance to reflect and think of forward progress.
#2 Desire • Individuals need to be led to see what benefit they might achieve through the use of or improvement in the skill. • An acknowledgement and a “want” to improve.
#3 Knowledge • (how-to) • Information examples, steps, or models supply the knowledge individuals need to be able to learn and demonstrate the skill.
#4 Practice • Activities that allow participants to apply their knowledge about the skill. • Using day-to-day instances for practice.
#5 Success • Feedback from self, co-workers, supervisors, and facilitators, provide encouragement and confidence for the individual to continue to work on the skill.
#6 Habit Integration • Individuals understand the process and know that they make a choice as to whether or not to proceed to the next step in the learning process. • They recognize that the responsibility for change is theirs.
Six Pillars of Character • A PERSON OF CHARACTER . . . • Is a good person, someone to look up to and admire. • Knows the difference between right and wrong and always tries to do what is right. • Sets a good example for everyone. • Makes the world a better place. • Lives according to the “Six Pillars of Character”: • TRUSTWORTHINESS, RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY, FAIRNESS, CARING and CITIZENSHIP
RESPONSIBILITY- Pillar #3 • DO: Know and do your duty. / Acknowledge and meet your legal and moral obligations. • DO: Accept responsibility for the consequences of your choices, not only for what you do but what you don’t do. /Think about consequences on yourself and others before you act. /Think long-term/ Do what you can do to make things better. /Set a good example. • DON’T: Look the other way when you can make a difference. /Make excuses or blame others. • DO: Your best./Persevere. /Don’t quit./Be prepared./Be diligent./Work hard./ Make all you do worthy of pride • DO: Take charge of your own life./Set realistic goals./Keep a positive outlook l Be prudent and self-disciplined with your health, emotions, time and money./Be rational — act out of reason not anger, revenge or fear./Know the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do./Be self-reliant — manage your life so you are not dependent on others; pay your own way whenever you can
Think and Share • Describe something you've done that was really irresponsible. How did you feel afterward? What did you learn from it?
How to be a responsible person and feel great! • When you agree to do something, do it. If you let people down, they'll stop believing you. When you follow through on your commitments, people take you seriously. • Answer for your own actions. Don't make excuses or blame others for what you do. When you take responsibility for your actions you are saying "I am the one who's in charge of my life." • Take care of your own matters. Don't rely on others to remind you when you're supposed to be somewhere or what you're supposed to bring. You take the responsibility. • Be trustworthy. If somebody trusts you to borrow or take care of something, take care of it. If somebody tells you something in confidence, keep it to yourself. It's important for people to know they can count on you. • Always use your head. Think things through and use good judgment. When you use your head you make better choices. That shows your parents they can trust you. • Don't put things off. When you have a job to do, do it. Doing things on time helps you take control of your life and shows that you can manage your own affairs.
Let’s Shift Gears… • What about False Responsibility and its remedies? • What is False Responsibility • Can your recognize times when you have felt this way?
In this section we will look at the pattern of "false responsibility" – when we take charge of things that don’t belong to us, such as: • other people’s feelings, • mistaken assumptions about who is responsible for shared outcomes, • or when circumstances change but we don’t.
Most adults have a natural ability to decide what’s in and what’s out. Our family of origin, fears, unrealistic expectations, and stressors such as pressure or anxiety sometimes cloud our judgment. The goal is to respond in ways that allow us to make high-quality decisions more often, steering clear of the landmines of false responsibility.
In our prior discussion we’ve suggested that one key to success is to take personal responsibility for the results you get. • Even when others are into deflecting ("It’s not my fault"), projecting ("You need electro-shock therapy!"), or blaming and shaming ("You didn’t explain it right."), • You can strengthen your approach while earning respect for your commitment to learning. • However, no matter what the other person owns (or doesn’t own), there are limits to "healthy responsibility" at work.
These limits come in three forms: • Under no circumstances are you responsible for other people’s feelings or experiences. • Caring about an outcome is different than having to control it. • When there’s change, notice and adapt lest ye get "bent out of shape."
Limit #1 • Even when you directly contributed to someone else’s experience, you are not responsible for their feelings or problems. • To accept some responsibility for the situation would require your voluntary consent. I’m not suggesting that you ignore their communication or that you not listen. Indeed, listen carefully and responsibly to their "stuff" – justdon’t take it on! • Realizing that it’s their stuff means you need not defend or argue. This is their experience, and it is a fact for them. Let it wash over you.
If you are having a hard time listening without judging, ask them to "speak from first person" – as in, "I understand you feel that I let you down; what was your firsthand experience?" • If necessary, request that they "Start with ‘I …’."
Limit #2 • Caring about an outcome is different than having to control it. • Over-caring about a goal doesn’t achieve optimal results – it prevents them! For example, if a manager claims to be fully responsible for all the outcomes of their department, what’s wrong with this picture? • For starters, not all the outcomes are up to that manager. It’s joint responsibility for shared outcomes: the staff does their part and the manager does theirs (hopefully). • Though based on a good intention (caring), taking false responsibility (over-caring) is a setup – a guarantee of overwork, underplay, stress and eventual burnout for a manager, depriving employees of power and recognition.
Of course, not assuming enough responsibility ("Who, me? I’m not even involved…"), would also be a problem. Aloof and detached "under-caring" triggers those who tend to over-care, both going nowhere in a hurry. • Remedy: assume functional and healthy responsibility, which may involve an adjustment in thinking, language and approach.
Limit #3 • Pushing to change circumstances beyond our control causes frustration and wastes energy. • Being fixated on the way it has to be leads to "over-push" – the tendency we all have to escalate, retaliate, do battle … temporarily buying into doing the impossible.
Example • For example, imagine you’re driving to an appointment on a tight schedule and suddenly there’s a sea of red brake lights in front of you. Do you go into stress or despair ("over-push"), get creative ("Hmmm … how do I part the red sea?"), or sigh and reschedule?
Situation Fun • See if you can identify the false responsibility in the following “day from hell” of a human being near you: • Have you ever had a day like these?
Situation #1 • Heading toward an appointment on a tight schedule, you encounter a major delay. Sadly, you left your helicopter in your other suit. You fantasize about driving along the shoulder or pushing cars out of your way. After more than a modest amount of head-banging, you call and reschedule.
Situation #2 • Back at the office, your computer commits suicide at the worst possible moment; Bill Gates fails to answer your page. You mentally rehearse a scathing e-mail message (fortunately, it will stay mental due to lack of a keyboard). Can’t we just start over?
Situation #3 • The project meeting drags on and people seem to be un-evolving before your eyes; although selection, mutation and extinction are a part of nature, you’d rather not watch it happen at work. The facilitator isn’t helping matters, so you blurt out “You’re a fool with a flipchart!”
What part constitutes false responsibility (hint: head-banging, chewing out Bill Gates, and calling the facilitator names isn’t likely to help you achieve your goals in life – although it certainly may provide momentary stress relief).
Stress Makes People Stupid • What keeps people from “letting go” when holding on clearly isn’t going to work? • Stress is what happens when the mind overrides our common sense. Pressure and anxiety have a blinding and distorting effect. • When emotionally upset, “people cannot remember, attend, learn, or make decisions clearly.” • Short answer: negative stress clouds judgment, and we need to notice it. The idea is to unlock some of the agitation or anxiety – undo the mental vapor lock. Return to center.
See if you recognize any of the following tell-tale signs of taking false responsibility at work: • Agitation or anxiety heightens as you gradually realize you’re wasting your time. • Frustration, perhaps punctuated by despair that leads to moments of self-doubt. • The feeling you get when you know it’s pointless (too late, won’t matter, doomed to fail, etc.), and yet somehow you keep trying.
Process for Releasing False Responsibility • Call a “time out” – STOP the action!Shift from external focus (the thing that’s got you upset) to an internal check-in. • Remember (or invent) your goal. “What was my original goal?” Write it down. Then ask yourself: “Why did that goal matter?” or “Why did I want that?” This gets at the bigger picture intention behind your goal, often tapping into what you really want.
3. Ask yourself to “let go” of what’s not working.Soon the so-called “problem” of the moment will quickly melt into a vast stew of “little stuff” – and yes, it’s all little stuff! Ask yourself “Of what could I begin to let go?” or “Could I release part of my need to change this situation and accept ______?” You know what’s been getting in your way.
4. Assess your options. Now that you’ve separated your intention from the over-push (steps 2 & 3, above), take a calm and careful look at what you’ll do to honor your intention.