First  published in Thrive Global 5 June 2020

There are so many ways to ‘slice and dice’ responsibility. This IS a favourite topic of mine. It wasn’t always that way. We could literally spend weeks on this topic and still not cover everything. Responsibility tends to be a subject most of us duck and dive from. Let’s face it, the associations with the word can be less than empowering. We’re always trying to make someone responsible for something or we run for cover hoping we don’t cop the blame for something we may or may not have done. That’s generally been what I have immediately thought of when I’ve heard the word and my name in the same sentence. That’s certainly far from empowering.


Everything changes

When I changed the way I thought about responsibility everything changed with it. I appreciate that changing the way we think about anything can be hard to do. We get set in our ways; we are stubborn and hold tightly to our opinions. And yet, when we do shift our thinking around it, everything shifts with it. An aspect of that shift can be really hard to do and makes all the difference when we do. It’s called being responsible for our choices.

Yes, OUR choices!

What do I mean by that? When you are responsible for your choices you don’t disown them down the track or even 5 minutes later. You literally decide and own them UP-Front. That’s the kicker. That’s the piece most of us struggle with or conveniently forget when we change our mind.


A true story: The names have been changed to protect the innocent!

This little anecdote could be true of virtually any couple. It is just as likely to occur between a parent and child. I’ve certainly been at the effect of it and it doesn’t feel great when it happens.

Now for the story…

Let’s say you enter into a partnership, be it a business or a team situation, or even an intimate relationship. You even go in “eyes-wide-open” and then problems rear their head. Now, everyone has problems. And, some problems are more likely to show up than others based on the people involved and the circumstances they find themselves in. In other words, there’s a certain type of ‘predictability’ about them. People are always communicating and always telling you who they are. Your job is to listen and to believe them and not kid yourself that it’s some other way.

Here’s a funny example: Meet Sherrie and Rob. Sherrie is a stylish woman, fit and always looking her best. Rob, is fashion-challenged and his idea of looking good is feeling good and that means he can be known to wear the most inappropriate old T-shirt, complete with a hole to somewhere fancy.

Three guesses what Sherrie’s reaction is?

“You can’t wear that… It reflects badly on me!”. Now, Rob’s fashion sense isn’t anything new. He was like that when they first started dating and Sherrie fell in love with him despite his fashion sense.

Here’s my question. Is she being for responsible for her choice?

She knew who he was at the get-go. Being responsible for her choice of partner is accepting him for who he is and giving up the right to make him wrong for it. Poor fashion sense is objective. Of course, my friend Helen Robinett would likely disagree, but then fashion is her bag. So I’ll leave that to the experts. The point still illustrates.

Where are you not responsible for the choices you’ve made and then turn around and blame the other person for it?

Not only is that unfair, but you have no freedom and neither do they.