• Freedom through Responsibility

    When I was growing up I remember that “being responsible” was something that adults seemed to be all the time and thankfully children didn’t need to worry about.  Over time though I began to realise that if I wanted to make it as an adult, I needed to find out what “being responsible” really meant.

    Interestingly, there are no classes at school on how to be responsible in life.

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    Inevitably, through life experiences we learn to become responsible as adults.  We learn to be dependable and reliable, we learn to take on obligations and positions of responsibility and at some point many of us become responsible for people, children, parents or pets. Very few of us, however, actually learn to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives.

    Understanding what responsiblity means and being personally responsible is a key leadership skill.  Whilst people expect leaders to be in a position of responsibility, the measure of a truly great leader is someone who is willing to be accountable for something within their power, control, or management.

    People often confuse being responsible with being “in power” in some way. In a sense this is correct in that everyone, no matter what their position in life, has the scary but liberating and powerful option of choosing to be personally responsible in life. This means being fully responsible for all your actions, behaviours, thoughts and feelings.  I believe that there is nothing that gives an individual more freedom and power than being willing to be 100% responsible in their life.

    Being responsible to this degree means really knowing that you are the master of your destiny.  Rather than waiting to blame external circumstances or other people for things that happen in your life, it is possible take back your power by choosing to be responsible.  Being responsible gives you the option of how you want to respond to extrinsic events outside your control.  By looking intrinsically it is possible to be responsible for how you feel and the actions you then take.

    What is responsibility in fact?

    Responsibility = the ability to choose how to respond (response – able)

    Interestingly most people choose not to be responsible. It is much easier to avoid responsibility and blame or complain about others and expect others to solve their problems, rather than take responsibility for the way things are and then take actions to change things. Being responsible means asking the question: “How am I the cause in this that has happened?” 

    Of course external events happen that are out of our control.  Being responsible though, means that rather than reacting on auto pilot you have the option at any moment to choose how you want to respond.  Your state of mind is entirely within your control and your responsibility and how you choose to feel and think is not dependent on someone or something else.

    Learning to be in control and responsible for your life is a key life skill we are ill equipped with.  Simply being aware of the thoughts in your head and your emotions are two of the most important ways that you can start to be responsible in life.

    Here are 6 ways in which you can start to be responsible for your life:

    1)    Raise your self-awareness – the root of your life is in your mind, take time to observe it

    2)    Take control – stop complaining and feeling a victim in life and choose to be the one in control

    3)    Act rather than react – notice how you react automatically to situations (emotionally and with actions) and choose how you would prefer to think and act.

    4)    Accept that you are the cause in where you are today – for good or bad.  By accepting that you have created your past and present you can also be cause in your future.

    5)    Be aware of your fear – fear is a parasite and feeds on doubt, judgements, opinions and hates change.

    6)    Believe in yourself – the two most powerful words in the dictionary “I CAN”

    Learning to be responsible for your life will help you to feel more in control.  It is important to remember though that whilst you can learn to be responsible for your own life, and choose how to respond at any moment in time, you cannot be responsible for how others think and behave.  You can only show others how to take reasonability by leading by example.

    If you enjoyed this article then you can find more on being responsible in your life and many more ways to be successful, in my ebook called:

    “The Secrets to Producing The Results You Want In Your Life”

    For your free copy please click here.

  • Joy – What Is It And Why Do I Want It?

    I went out today on a bike ride, cycling through the hilly lanes in the lovely Devon countryside. I have been tired of late dealing with the stresses of building – or in our case not building our house, and whilst a sneaky nap seemed like a nice idea my feet ended up on the pedals and off I went.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I love biking, but due to work commitments, life and all manner of other things that have got in the way, I haven’t been biking outdoors for a long, long while.  Whilst I normally bike in the mountains around Chamonix, today was a more leisurely jaunt, taking in the hills of East Devon and pondering life while I went.

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    Off I set with no goal in mind.  I had posted a thought on twitter earlier in the day about the fact that the measure of our success is not about how much money we have but how much joy we experience in life.  Being alone on my bike with just my thoughts for company I was able to contemplate this concept at leisure and explore what came up.

    I started to reflect on what joy really was and how it differs from happiness. I remembered an interesting conversation with a company earlier this week, who wanted as one of their goals for all their staff to be happy.  At first glance this seems like an admirable goal, however, a) since happiness is an emotion, other people’s happiness is not something anyone of us can control, and b) happiness generally comes from external things and is different for each person.  Thus creating a “happy” workforce could be quite a challenge.

    Whilst it is true that joy is also an emotion, joy is more often derived from a sense of inner peace and calm, feeling grateful and appreciative, and caring for others.   Unlike happiness which can be fleeting in duration, joy tends to last longer and brings more contentment and satisfaction.  Perhaps rather than striving for a having a happy workforce a better goal would be to have a staff who felt joy in what they do.  Creating a culture of appreciation and holistic leadership, where teams look more strategically at how they can work for the good of the organisation rather than in “silos”, would go a long way to creating a contented and fulfilled workforce.

    Whilst thinking about this I started to think about the way I felt when I was feeling the opposite of either joy or happiness.  When I am not happy I am generally feeling unhappy and feel miserable. However, when I am not experiencing joy I am usually in a state of worry or fear.  So if fear, anxiety, or stress is lurking in your organisation then it is unlikely that a sense of joy can prevail.

    This brought home to me a startling realisation – almost causing me to ride into the hedge – that personally when I am in fear about things:  doubts, failure, not being good enough, upsetting someone etc then this would be a good time to search out some joy  in my life.

    But where can I find joy?   Since joy is largely derived internally rather than externally this made me think that I can find joy in any moment I choose to.  Riding my bike I decided to just be in the moment, stop all the head chatter and appreciate what was around me.  Doing this it was if my senses were suddenly turned on and I could see detail in everything: the intense colours of the flowers; the dappled sunlight through the leaves; the expanse of the cloud strewn sky and the endless landscape of gently rolling fields.  I felt my body alive with sensations: the touch of the wind on my skin, the smells of the countryside in my nose and the sound of the nature in my ears.  Really it was quite an incredible experience and all that I did was turn my joy radar on.

    It made me realise that I live mostly in a one dimensional way.  I live in a world with so much sensory input and data being thrust at me all the time that I tend to limit my experience and tune out what I think is unimportant and extraneous. This means for me tuning out the wonderful things around me that I don’t see anymore.   I realised that if I want to experience more joy in my life I need to pay attention to the detail and the small stuff around me.  It is the measure of our capacity to see the detail in life that determines our ability to experience joy.

    So I have set a new challenge for myself.  I have decided that every day I will look for the joy in the day.  No matter how rubbish the external world is behaving I will spend time experiencing the joy that comes from appreciating the simple things in life.  It’s all about the small stuff.

    I invite you to keep an eye on your joy gauge.  When you are feeling fearful, doubtful or stressed take a moment to stop.  Turn off your head and feel with your body.  What do you hear, feel, see and smell?  Turn on your joy radar and look with curiosity at the things around you.  Taking a moment of stillness to appreciate the things around you will be uplifting and will help you to get through the rest of the external stuff that needs to be dealt with.

    I would love to hear and see the small stuff in your lie that fills you with joy.  If you would like to share with me what brings you joy you can post your comments and pictures below.

    If you would like to find out how to create more joy in your life then click on the link below to get access to my free e-book:

    The Secrets to Producing the Results that You Want in Your Life