Life is a game of choices; choices that we make and also we don’t make. Making no choice is also a choice in itself. How well we play this game decides what kind of a person we turn out to be or, what kind of life we lead or, simplistically, it decides our destiny. Now, making a choice means accepting responsibility for our attitudes, behaviors and actions and at the same time, refusing to ‘pass the buck’ or blame others or our circumstances. We have the freedom to make our choices and we need to make them wisely with awareness and right understanding.
When we talk of responsibility, it is all about being responsible, moral, and accountable for one’s values, attitudes, choices, behaviors, and actions. Responsibility also encompasses reliability and trustworthiness. So, in other words, one is reliable and trustworthy when one accepts responsibility.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his famous book entitled “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” defined “Responsibility” as “Response-ability” or ability to choose our response to a situation. I have observed many a people not taking responsibility for their behaviors and actions or shirking their responsibility, especially when things do not go right, or as planned, just saying that it is not my responsibility or I am not responsible for it. Such people do not take any ownership for their behaviors or actions. But, this leads me to a question: “Can responsibility be limited or restricted?” The answer is simply “No” because why any one would like to limit or restrict his/her ability to respond to a situation. I believe, responsibility is unlimited or boundless. Action, on the other hand, is limited and has a boundary defined by one’s attitude, capability, and priority.
Let me give you a few examples from our daily life…. how we are responsible for certain things that happen/may happen to us if we make different choices…. For example we have a choice to throw wrapper on the road after eating ice-cream or throw it in the dustbin. Now if I take responsibility for keeping my city clean, I would throw the wrapper in the dustbin. If I do not do so, I will be responsible for the dirty city and would forfeit the right to complain against municipal corporation. Similarly, if I leave my mobile carelessly for charging at a public charging booth at a railway station, I will forfeit my right to complain against police. If I bribe a railway officer to get a berth in train, I forfeit my right to complain against corruption in railways…. Because every time in above examples, I had another choice…. to throw wrapper in dustbin, to be careful and keep watch on my mobile, to not to pay bribe for getting a berth on the train when its somebody else’s turn ahead of me and so on…. It is true for other situations also like flouting traffic rules, parking at wrong places, etc. and in such situations I may be taught a lesson for not taking responsibility….
What happens when we take responsibility? We may either succeed or fail. In both the cases there are important lessons to be learnt. When we succeed, we learn that if we act in this fashion, the chances of succeeding are greater. On the other hand, when we fail, yet again we learn the important lessons which may help us to fine tune our lives by not repeating those mistakes which made us fail. Perhaps, that’s why It is said that failure is a stepping stone to success. So, let us accept responsibility with wide open arms because in it lies our freedom to choose….to learn to play the game of life better….and to grow….
Generally we are very quick in taking responsibility or ownership for success or anything that happens good in our life or around us but disown failure or bad things…. like it is said, “Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan”…. Let us change this …. Let us be responsible….
N.B. Sincere thanks to Dr. Om Prakash Jain for his inputs and feedback.