It’s All About Taking Responsibility

Being successful in this business as well as being successful in life is all about taking responsibility; personal responsibility for our actions and the results created by those actions.

Now, I don’t expect that statement to come as a revelation to anyone reading this article. Nevertheless, based on the excuses we hear and perhaps the excuses we make every day, being reminded that we need to step up and take responsibility for our actions and outcomes is always in order.

Remember: Our success is inversely proportional to the number of socially acceptable excuses we use to justify our own behavior.

Keeping this in mind, ask yourself, which of the following best describes me?

Internalist: An individual who is performance oriented, accepts responsibility for their actions, successes, and failures.

Externalist: An individual who refuses to accept responsibility for their position in life and hides behind excuses. Because they constantly blame some external source, condition, or other people for their personal failures, they escape responsibility for them. They continuously position themselves as victims (“There are no victims, only volunteers” – Dr. Phil).

Truth be known, we all may be a combination of both internalist and externalist. However, the first key to taking responsibility is to understand which of these descriptions most closely matches our predominant style of operating. To help us in this analysis, consider what researchers have determined are the top five excuses people use to justify their behavior.

1. It wasn’t my responsibility.

2. It’s someone else’s fault.

3. I didn’t have enough time.

4. I didn’t know.

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5. Nobody told me.

Sound familiar? Of course they do. We all have used them at one time or another. The important thing to understand is when and why we use them or any of the limitless number of other excuses that are always available.

Bottom line, in over thirty years in this business, I have never met a truly successful individual (practitioner, client or candidate) who wasn’t more an “internalist” than and “externalist.” They continually took responsibility for their actions and outcomes.

However, what most surprised me about these individuals was that taking responsibility resulted from a conscious decision on their part and that decision had everything to do with personal accountability and being achievement oriented (see TFL – 11/99 – “How Bad Do You Want To Be Good?”).

Achieving success is all about taking responsibility. Therefore, when we look in the mirror at the end of the day, we should ask ourselves, “Do I take responsibility for the sum total of my day?” If we can consistently answer that question with a “yes,’ we’re taking one of the first and most important steps toward achieving success in our career as well as our life.

As always, if you have comments or questions, just let me know.

Recipient of the Harold B. Nelson Award, Terry Petra is one of our industry's leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including PETRA ON CALL, and BUSINESS VALUATION, visit www.tpetra.com. Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.

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