I used to wonder why people who take care of their clothes, shoes, bags, and other items are good leaders. Have you ever seen successful people leaving their precious things to get covered in dust? Let me put it the other way. Have you ever seen someone shrugging off responsibilities and commitments and also not maintaining their basic stuff? Like their illtreated branded clothes in one corner, begrimed expensive shoes in the other, and roughly handled valuable electronics shrieking for care. I have seen this, and I also observed a paradigm shift in such people’s behavior when they started taking responsibilities. It not only showed in the way they managed their possessions but their overall sense of commitment towards work and people. They were en-route to a successful life.
Taking up responsibilities has direct consequences towards our willingness to work and be successful. When children are quite young, parents may not consider these skills as important as studying or playing. The truth is that Responsibility is one of the most important skills that you must start honing since childhood.
However, most people avoid responsibility. Why does that happen? Basically, there are three reasons behind shrugging them off:
Not being much involved in the process
Fear of Failure
Lack of confidence
The common excuses that we often say are- “I’ll do it later”, “ I don’t want to do it”, “I’m bored”, “You didn’t want to do it yourself so you passed it to me” “it is their responsibility” and so on. Here are some 5 ways to enhance your skill of Responsibility :
Acceptance — If it is a responsibility that has been assigned to you, you can train your mind to perform rather than procrastinate. It is important to make the task itself interesting rather than viewing it as a ‘burden’. In a common scenario where you feel that someone else passed on her/his work to you, you might want to analyze if doing it is going to affect you positively? If not then I am bold enough to bring forward the fact — who’s responsible for what?
Making the task interesting — Write down Goals in a colorful and artistic way. Keep it in a place where it's visible. That’s the first step. Second, is to identify your strengths. Let’s say you like talking to people but during the lockdown, you are not getting the opportunity to do that. Don’t stop. Record whatever you want to say to the people. Make a podcast/a youtube video/webinar. There are plenty of options there!
Increasing your Inner Circle of Influence — Steven Covey in his book ‘7sign of highly effective people’ has mentioned about the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. The aim of Circles of Influence(over which we have the control) is to help people take responsibility for their work concerns and thus be more proactive, productive, and happier. The Circle of concern only bothers you about things and environments that are beyond your control.
A small activity for you:
a)Make a big circle and a small circle inside it. Make two lists.
b)In the first list, write down what upsets you in the present situation.
c)In the second list, write down your strengths that will improve your efficiency on any given day.
d)From the first list, separate things that are not in your control. Mention these in the outermost circle (For eg, weather conditions/ someone’s death/past/ future, etc.)
e)Put all your strengths(your virtues/skills) in the middle circle from the second list.
f)In the first list, you will be left with the things that bother you and are in your control(for eg. your bad mood/ inability to sleep on time/ poor rapport with colleagues, etc.)
g)Analyze the Circle now. Work on the things you actually have control over. Use your strengths, your abilities to take care of these. Above all, do not focus on things that lie in the area of concern as you cannot do much about it.
4. Appreciation is the key- Often times we get bogged down with the failures in life. We doubt our capabilities. I have also experienced it myself. And trust me, it is ok to feel that. We all are human after all. These feelings are bound to occur. However, the essence lies in Recognising this feeling — accepting it — and overcoming it.
Give yourself full points to the attempt that you have made. Encourage yourself to do better the next time. Appreciate the strengths that you have. Appreciate the people who love you. Don’t focus on those who may/may not be trying to pull you down. Thinking about them is a waste of time!
5. Building up confidence — Fear of failure and lack of confidence are intertwined. I believe it’s a cycle. The more we take up responsibilities the more confident we become. When you make a commitment, you know that you have to fulfill it, the pressure is going to be there and you WILL HAVE TO perform. But that’s what leadership is all about. If you want to succeed, you WILL HAVE TO BE COMMITTED to work and people. As it said earlier, it's a cycle — the more you hone your skill of responsibility the better. By the way, this cycle also reminds of a Bicycle. If you’ve tried riding it you would know that its hard to get the knack of riding it in the first place. However, you excel in riding it only when you practice.
How I learned to be responsible
I remember when I was quite young, our mother used to give my sister and me little works like emptying packed stuff in containers when the monthly grocery would come, watering the plants, and walking out our pet dog. She used to make the task sound interesting. Besides that, we would see her carrying all the work happily. She wouldn’t grumble at all. Hats off to my mother for immense dedication towards work at home and office. She would balance everything so well.
Right after I completed school, I started working as a Summer Trainee in a Bank. Despite being a Trainee I used to come early to work and leave last. Nobody had asked me to work so hard but it was because I had taken up a serious responsibility.
I had joined the University of Allahabad to pursue my Bachelors in Commerce. My sister got into the famous Hindu College of Delhi University. Expenses had shot up and the source of money was one — my mother’s salary. Though my maternal aunt did provide financial and emotional support selflessly it wasn't quite enough. That was the time when I realized I needed to take responsibility for my education and also my family’s happiness.
Soon after completing my Summer Training, I joined another Bank. I would work day and night to strike a balance between work and studies. In a month’s time, I started earning incentives by putting in more effort.
This was the first leg of being a responsible member of the family. This further made be confident, happier, and stronger within.
A truth about happily taking responsibility is that you feel proud of yourself. This results in you becoming more confident and preparing yourself for the future.
I would end by quoting the lines of Eleanor Roosevelt - “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility”
After all, the choice to be responsible is your responsibility.