Throughout our lives, we are confronted by external
pressures. It is how we react to them that determine our level of
accomplishment in life. Those who take responsibility when problems
arise -- perceiving their own limitation or weakness relative to the
problem -- accomplish greatly. Those who blame others or simply ignore
difficulties to begin with, stagnate and achieve less.
For example, in the book Pride and Prejudice
the main hero Darcy is confronted by life's difficulties, many of which
he precipitated in the first place. Fortunately, he responds positively
by taking personal
responsibility for his behaviors. He does this by acknowledging
his character flaws and misdeeds. As a result, his shift in attitude
sets in motions a series of events that end up resolving a critical
problem, while winning over the love of his life. In that process, he
also grows as an individual, which is in fact what ultimately attracts
Eliza Bennet to marriage.
When life bears down on us and exerts pressures, we
can respond positively or negatively. Those who respond positively, who
take responsibility rather than blame others or are indifferent to the
situation, set the stage for great positive responses from life.
Here are two other little true episodes of life that
illustrate this principle.
A woman was paying a bill at a restaurant to the
waitress. In the middle of the transaction, the woman's friend
interrupted the waitress and asked for some brochures that were stored
behind the cash register. They were brochures for various local
attractions. The waitress continued with the transaction with the woman
and then gave the man a brochure.
An hour or so later when the man and the woman went
to visit the attraction, he was disappointed to learn that it was
closed. What had happened was that the earlier negative interruption by
the man at the cash register asking for the brochure attracted a
negative life response in that area -- i.e. the attraction that the
brochure was advertising.
Fortunately, this story had a happy ending. After
being disappointed by the closed attraction, he had the subtle sense to
see the connection between his rude interruption and the negative
outcome. What happened was that at that point, he took responsibility
for his past misdeed and the negative response that followed. At the
very moment, he accepted responsibility, the woman at the entrance
indicated that the attraction would in fact be open in an hour. The two
close friends then went on to have a wonderful time at that
natural wonder -- an underground cave.
When an individual realizes his complicity in a
negative outcome and becomes
accountable for it, life tends to quickly move in his favor. It is the
life response power of taking responsibility in life.
Here is the second true story along these lines:
this one narrated by an associate of ours.
"In our unit there was a supervisor whom I felt was
indifferent, insubordinate and had to be bridled. I was looking for an
opportunity to pin him down. The time came and I dismissed him
mercilessly. Within two days of his dismissal, there was a major
breakdown in one of the machines. The supplier of the machine had sent
their engineers. They struggled for 7 days and could do very little to
set right the machine. I was thoroughly disgusted. I started examining
my attitudes on several matters during the last 10 days.
It struck me that whenever I am able to dominate, my
attitude is to dominate. I could dominate the supervisor and dismiss him
mercilessly. But in the case of the machine, I could not afford to throw
it and replace it with a new machine so I was tolerating it. I
understood that I have to change my attitude. I called back the
supervisor, felt sorry for my rude action and requested him to continue
in the company. He felt very happy, the machine was fixed soon
thereafter. Within a month, this supervisor got a good job in a
government undertaking on a higher salary and parted with me happily.
Since then there was no serious trouble with any of the machines."
Finally, here is one other example of taking
responsibility; this one culled from a popular recent film,
Master & Commander: the Far Side
of the World.
In the 19th century and the
British naval frigate HMS Surprise is pursuing the Acheron, a large and
powerful French war vessel that is sailing off the coast of South
America. At one point, the Surprise, commanded by Captain Jack Aubrey,
is herself "surprised" when she is attacked by the Acheron; badly
damaging the ship and wounding many of its crewmembers. As a result of
these events, Stephen Maturin, the ship's doctor and close friend of the
Captain, comes in conflict with him over his relentless pursuit of the
enemy ship. The doctor insists that it is better to retreat, regroup,
and consider a new approach rather than further endanger the crew. When
Captain Aubrey rebuffs him, Maturin tells him that he is acting
irrationally and fanatical.
At one point, Doctor Maturin suggests that they stop
for a while at the Galapagos Islands, where he can gather sample
specimens of some of the rarest plants, insects, and animals on earth.
However, the driven Captain indicates that there is no time for such
trifles, and they immediately head out to complete their mission.
Several days later, there is a dispute aboard ship
and the doctor is accidentally wounded. The Captain, concerned about his
friend's condition, orders the ship back to the Galapagos where Maturin
can heal. With the doctor near death, the Captain senses that had he
listened to his old friend's suggestion, this dire situation would never
Fortunately, in the days that
follow, the doctor recovers, and the Captain guardedly allows him to go
on the outing to gather the rare specimens on the island -- the trip he
rejected earlier in order to pursue the Acheron. At one point on his
field trip, Maturin climbs a hill, gazes out to sea, and then to his
utter amazement sees the Acheron sitting there docked at the edge of the
island! What had eluded the crew for months was now suddenly docked at
the doorstep, and in an extremely vulnerable position. Quickly the crew
seizes the opportunity, sails around the island, and destroys the
This is a perfect example of the life response in action. When the
Captain changed his attitude and took responsibility for the grave
conditions of his friend by heading back to the Galapagos where he could
heal, he created an opening that allowed the doctor to discover the
vulnerable ship. By changing his perspective, the captain aligned with
powerful positive conditions that enabled him to fulfill his and his
Taking Super Responsibility Taking responsibility is one of the critical ways
to accomplish and grow in life. In fact, we can identify several levels
of it. For example, it is far easier to take responsibility in
situations where we were clearly at fault, where our culpability is
readily apparent. At the other extreme, it is much more difficult, if
not impossible, even illogical, to take responsibility for something
that we had no direct part in. Or is it? Is it actually possible to take
responsibility for negative circumstances in which we played no obvious,
To answer that question, let us consider two extreme
possibilities. The first is a situation where you are obviously to
blame. Imagine that you are the chief negotiator trying to facilitate a
compromise between two parties who have a difference of opinion. In this
situation, you make the blunder of arranging the wrong meeting place,
creating embarrassment and anguish for everyone. In such circumstances,
it is relatively easy to take responsibility since it is easy to see
one's fault in the matter. But what about a situation where you have
played no direct part in the outcome, and yet are still involved in that
work? Can you take responsibility there as well?
Again, imagine that you are moderating a negotiation
between two parties. After several days, the discussion breaks down
because of a disagreement on fundamental principles. Though you have
made a concerted effort to bring the parties together, and have done
your work diligently and professionally, an element has crept in that
seemed beyond your control, preventing the two parties from coming to an
agreement. What I am now suggesting is that
even in this case you
can take responsibility for the negative outcome!
The reason one can come to this conclusion is
because of the fundamental relationship between one's consciousness and
the world outside us. The principle of inner-outer correspondence
indicates there if is anything negative occurring within one's purview,
we should be able to discover a corresponding wanting element inside
-- no matter how small or trivial -- change that trait, which will
then bring about a powerful positive response from life.
Thus, even in situations where we do not see any
obvious correlation between the outer and the inner, we can dig a little
deeper, discover the subtle causality, and reverse that wanting
characteristic, causing outer conditions to quickly improve. This is
what I mean by "super responsibility;" another powerful means by which
we can quickly change the conditions of life from within.
additional Growth Online thoughts on the power of taking responsibility in life, click