Take Personal Responsibility in Everything You Do

by ryan

Take Personal Responsibility in Everything You Do


Personal Responsibility – The First Step in Personal Development

Personal responsibility is the one thing that I wish we could do a better job of teaching our youth.

I have worked in the public education system for 13 years. For 4 of those years, I have served as a school administrator. As you can imagine, being a school principal can be challenging because your are dealing with people. People are complex, which can make the job convoluted with problems to solve. Perhaps, the biggest challenge that I have faced has been with students and parents alike who do not take personal responsibility.

Let me share a story with you. Recently, I had the pleasure to speak with a parent over the phone about her student. Needless to say, this phone call was not a pleasant one. Prior to this phone call, I got a report from one of my teachers that one of my students, that tends to skip class quite a bit, was not in class where she was supposed to be.

As a result, I found her and asked her to return to class. Her immediate response was, “There are other kids in here that aren’t in class. Why aren’t you getting after them?”

To this, I responded. “I am dealing with you right now. I will focus on them later.”

Of course, the young lady continued to argue. I replied to her argument by calling her by name and saying, “… you are on the verge of not passing your classes. I suggest you get to where you are supposed to be.”

As you can imagine, the young lady became upset because she felt that I called her out in front of her peers unfairly. I told her that I was just being real and honest.

Knowing what I know about this student’s parent, I knew that would be receiving a phone call very soon. Sure enough, about 10 minutes after the incident, the young lady’s mother called. Let’s just say that I could not get a word in edgewise. The mother was livid with me and could not understand why I would call her daughter out like that.

I replied by saying that I was just being honest with her daughter because she is in danger of not passing her classes. To this, she responded by saying, “Well, can I be real with you then!”

I said, “Sure.”

“You’re an a**hole,” she vehemently replied.

After more personal attacks and a small tantrum, the conversation was over.

Personal Responsibility Means Being Honest with Yourself and Others

Why do I share that story? It is because this whole incident and the name calling could have been avoided if the young lady and her mother would have been honest with themselves. I was simply stating the truth and how it was not a good idea to be out of class, especially when you are on the verge of failing. Now, I will admit that I should have pulled the young lady aside and said this to her privately. I will take personal responsibility for that.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

~ Thomas Jefferson

My point is that people in society today want to blame other people, circumstances, or other things for their misfortunes. When you are honest with yourself and others about your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, you begin to take personal responsibility for your life. And that is the first step in personal development.

To Improve Ourselves, We Must Start from the Inside-Out

Many of us go through life wishing and hoping that some outside influence will solve all of our problems. After all, it’s human nature not to take personal responsibility. We wish to get rich by winning the lottery or a sweepstakes. We wish for better relationships by hoping better people come into your lives. We continue to wish and wish. The problem with this kind of thinking is that we hope for some external influence to fix our issues. This kind of thinking is false. In order to get what we want in life, we must first become the person inside we wish to be.

If it is money you want, you must begin to think like a rich person. If it is a loving and kind relationship you want, you must first become loving and caring yourself. Whatever we want or wish to become in this life, we must first become that within ourselves.

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

~ Swami Vivekananda

Personal Responsibility and Free Agency

God has given us the greatest gift he could give His children, which is our free agency. Our agency allows us to make decisions on our own. We can either choose to do good or bad. We must take personal responsibility for what happens in our lives and what our current situation is.

We must understand that where we are today is a direct result of the decisions we have made. If your finances are not where you would like them to be, think back to your past decisions. Have you maxed out your credit cards? Have you spent more than you earn? If you hate your job, think back to the career decision that you have made. Everything is a choice.

With free agency there comes responsibility. If a man is to be rewarded for righteousness and punished for evil, then common justice demands that he be given the power of independent action. A knowledge of good and evil is essential to man’s progress on earth. If he were coerced to do right at all times, or were helplessly enticed to commit sin, he would merit neither a blessing for the first nor punishment for the second. …

… Man’s responsibility is correspondingly operative with his free agency. Actions in harmony with divine law and the laws of nature will bring happiness, and those in opposition to divine truth, misery. Man is responsible not only for every deed, but also for every idle word and thought. Said the Savior:

“… every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36.)

~ David O. McKay, Teachings of Presidents of the Church


In closing, taking personal responsibility is the first step to personal growth. We cannot grow if we are continuously angry, bitter, or blame others for our shortcomings. In fact, irresponsible people exhibit this kind of behavior. Just remember that when you do take personal responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions the results can take time. But even when you do reach your goals, self improvement is a never ending process.

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