October 3rd, 2011

Resumes say a lot about the way we see the world. Here are 10 resume notes that send the wrong message-

10. Marital Status: Often. Children: Various.

9. Reason for leaving last position- They insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 every morning. Couldn’t work under those restrictions.

8. 28 dog years of experience in sales.

 7. 7 years as stewardess in the Royal Air Force

6. I tend to procrastinate – especially when the task is unpleasant.

5. I intentionally omitted my salary history. I’ve made money and lost money. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I prefer being rich.

4. Responsibility makes me nervous.

3. Salary sought- the higher the better. Due to recent bankruptcy, will require immediate bonus.

2. Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I have never once quit a job.

1. Please call me after 5:30 because I am self-employed and my employer does not know I am looking for another job.

We’re not all self employed, but we ARE all self empowered. How does the resume of your life read? Is it all excuses and entitlement, or is it a long and impressive list of proactive initiatives. The true measure of any person is their willingness to take responsibility for their life and choices. The poet Josiah Gilbert Holland said, “Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power.” Whether you have set yourself the challenge to lose weight, quit smoking, change careers, heal a relationship or live a healthier life in any way, your level of personal responsibility will set the tone for your success.

This week I will explore the idea of personal responsibility, both the privileges and challenges of taking responsibility. I will demonstrate that you are self empowered enough to take responsibility, not just for your actions, but also for your thoughts and even for your future. I will show that ownership and empathy are key to responsibility. I will explore some of the ways that your beliefs can either enhance or limit your sense of personal responsibility, and how from a spiritual perspective you are responsible not just for YOUR thoughts and actions, but for EVERYTHING that arises in the universe. But that’s getting ahead of myself. First, it’s time to check in with your own sense of empowerment.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how self empowered do you feel? (1 being low and 10 being highly empowered) Wherever you place yourself, take the opportunity to raise the bar on self empowerment, maybe even get yourself to a 10. The thing about personal responsibility is that there is no absolute way to measure it. It exists on a spectrum. Maybe you feel empowered in one area of your life, but not in another. Maybe you feel empowered around some people and not others. Maybe you feel empowered at certain times of the day and not others. You can always be more empowered and there is always greater depth to your personal responsibility. Prepare yourself for a lifelong journey of growth with some occasional forays back into a victim mentality. But living with responsibility is a perspective with power, and it’s where you want to ground yourself.

What is personal responsibility? It is holding yourself accountable for everything you think, say and do. No more “the devil made me do it”. No more “my parents ruined my life or my ex stole my best years.” No more “politicians ruin everything”. No more finger pointing, excuses or blame. No more “I can’t change. I’m not strong enough. Too old, too young, too late, too early, too busy.” No more “I tried before and failed.” The origin of the word “excuse” is to be cleared of responsibility. That may be a relief if you are on trial for a crime, but when it comes to living fully you can’t give up responsibility without also sacrificing your power.  It’s always possible to avoid responsibility, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding responsibility. As Richard Bach said,

If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.

No matter what led to this moment, no matter the challenges facing you, no matter the odds stacked against you, you are always responsible for what happens next. There are things you can’t control, like interest rates, weather and sports results. But even in relation to those things, you always retain your ability to reframe, reposition and respond from your highest perspective.

Personal responsibility is not about blame, or cause and effect. On the contrary, it’s about owning your ability to respond in each moment, no matter what happens. Most of us are pretty quick to accept responsibility for the satisfying moments or achievements, but when things go wrong, that’s another thing altogether.

There is a story from India about a man who tended his garden with great care. When a cow strayed into his garden and chewed some of his flowers, he flew into a rage and killed the cow. News spread quickly as the cow is a sacred animal and this was an extreme act of aggression. The man justified it because he said it was his sacred duty to tend the garden, and in the end it was Indra, the deity of hands, who caused him to use his hands to kill the cow. Indra, hearing this excuse, took on the form of a Hindu holy man and visited the gardener. Indra first noticed what a beautiful garden it was. The gardener beamed with satisfaction, telling the holy man that he labored night and day to create this garden. Then Indra shifted the focus and said, “Why do you accept praise for the work of your hands in the garden, but when it comes to killing the cow with your bare hands, you blame me?” The man immediately realized what he was doing, reclaimed his power and accepted responsibility.

Personal responsibility is about accepting that the quality of the garden of your life is squarely in your own hands. Enjoy the praise, and accept the feedback. You don’t need excuses because you have nothing to hide and you don’t need an alibi because who and where you are is more than enough to handle whatever life puts in your path. You can’t always control circumstances, but you can ALWAYS choose your response. This is your response-ability.

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  1. I like the idea of taking responsibility for both my successes and my failures. I’ll work on that.

  2. Sonia Rumzi says:

    Amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. 🙂

  3. […] time to be recognized, stand up, and shine. This is part two in a series on responsibility. The first part looked at responsibility as the ability to […]

  4. […] = {"data_track_clickback":true};This is the third article in a series on responsibility. First I looked at the personal and relational issues around responsibility, where each individual owns […]

  5. […] Response-Ability- What is personal responsibility? Learn to take responsibility for both your successes and […]

  6. G says:

    Wonderful, and timely thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  7. […] » Blog Archive » Response-Ability Posted by MagMan on 09/10/2011 in Papers | Subscribe – […]

  8. […] to recap, two weeks ago I wrote about taking responsibility for who you are, staying accountable for what matters most to you, and creating the change you want […]

  9. This is exactly the message in my latest blog about facing our financial responsibilities as mindful consumers in a society being divided into rich and poor.  I enjoyed this post.

  10. Karen Abrams says:

    Personal responsibility is a function of integrity. And integrity moves us forward and opens up the way towards manifesting positivity in our lives.

  11. Aoife says:

    I agreed with much in this article-for my own life. However with the Josiah Gilbert Howard quote, I thought, what if you have the capacity but not the power? Or the power but not the capacity.  As to the Richard Bach quote, all I could think was em what about rape? To stop being a victim of rape, the person must accept it was their fault?
    And I think that is one of my biggest problems with this post, it is true and helpful to a point and for a specific audience.

  12. ian says:

    thanks for your comment. My point was to take responsibility for what comes next, rather than blame for what happened. I can see how the Bach quote confused that point. Thanks for pointing out an alternate perspective.

  13. Great article and wonderful Monday read!!

    Reposted so hopefully more will see. Had a client this morning that needed this.

    Have a great week!

  14. ian says:

    Awesome Stephanie- you too

  15. Anne K Scott says:

    Keep spreading the word Ian.  Love the pertinence & ‘to-the-point’ness of your writing

  16. Cindi says:

    As an employment specialist, I especially loved the resume part!  Very funny.  We do all have to take responsibility for our actions.  The future doesn’t yet exist, the past is gone, and only the present gives us the choices we make in life.  Let’s not forget to NOT beat ourselves up too much over our mistakes but learn from them and use the mistakes as reminders of what not to do again.  Thank you for this article.

  17. “…the garden of your life is squarely in your own hands.” I love it! YES! I didn’t used to think that, even several years in to recovery I still dealt with blame for my woes. The turning point happened for me when I became healed enough to realize what was meant by being responsible for my own emotions and feelings. Now I get it thoroughly and agree that we are each totally responsible for everything in our lives! Nice post. Thanks!

  18. Lisa Carp says:

    I found this article really insightful and well written. I am in Human Resources so I first “clicked” on it, thinking I would read something funny, which I did (I liked the resume “nots”). However the rest of the article was very to the point and, I think, could apply to almost everyone in virtually every situation. Thank you!

  19. Thank you for a very thought provoking post. Being self empowered is probably one of the most important mindsets of the self employed. This post shares an important insight for aspiring entrepreneurs.

  20. Great article! I especially love the title, and laughed aloud at the resume notes… 

    Liat Segal
    Author of The Gods She Chose 

  21. Camille says:

    I love reading your blog. Learning painfully right now to accept responsibility but trudging along and smiling through the tears. Growing pains are tough but worth it. Thank you for you wring your wisdom.

  22. The title reminds me of Stephen Covey. RIP
    I recommend his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

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