Stuff happens: good stuff, bad stuff, frustrating stuff, unexpected stuff. Humans are the only animals with free will. That means we – you and me – get to decide how we react to every situation that comes up. That’s why taking personal responsibility for yourself and choosing to respond positively to the negative stuff that happens to you is so important.
Personal responsibility means recognizing that you are responsible for your life and the choices you make. It means that you realize that while other people and events have an impact on your life, these people and events don’t shape your life. When you accept personal responsibility for your life, you own up to the fact that how you react to people and events is what’s important. And you can choose how to react to every person you meet and everything that happens to you.
The concept of personal responsibility is found in most writings on success. Stephen Covey’s first habit in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, “Be proactive.” I have a little book called Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People also by Stephen Covey. It is one of the most read books that I have. I like it because it provides a little snippet of career advice from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People everyday.
Here's an example:
“It’s not really what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Of course, things can hurt physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well.”
Dr. Covey provides some great career advice here. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to both the positive and negative experiences we have as we go through life. Successful people choose to make lemonade out of lemons. Unsuccessful people choose to complain about the bitter, tart taste of the lemons they are handed.
I know the “lemons into lemonade” line is a cliché. However, clichés become clichés because they have an underlying truth. The important point is that human beings are blessed with free will. As such, we can choose what we do and how we react to the world around us. We can choose a positive, productive path; or we can choose a path of self pity and inaction – and hurt only ourselves in the end.
“Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.”
I love the concept of carrying your own weather with you. Choosing to react positively to the negative people and events in your life is the best way to carry your weather with you– and to take personal responsibility for your life and career success.
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