In follow-up to Monday’s blog on the first step of The Acceptance Principle, possessing the courage to Accept Reality when looking at our world as it continues to grow in complexity, intensity, and uncertainty, today’s comments will focus on the second step in The Acceptance Principle: Accept Responsibility.
At Harvest Time Partners, we developed resources around the framework of The Acceptance Principle to support and encourage individuals taking a more effective step in addressing the realities of our world and continuing to move forward on their path to personal growth and accomplishment.
The second step in The Acceptance Principle is to Accept Responsibility for our response to the various situations and circumstances we face in today’s world. There are numerous examples around us of individuals playing the “blame game” when outcomes fall short of expectations. Poor performance in school is often blamed on the teacher or the classroom environment. Poor performance in the workplace is often blamed on a poor boss or the demands of the workplace. Struggling relationships in families are often blamed on “the other person” to avoid the acceptance of responsibility. Numerous examples of steroid use in professional sports are often blamed on the pressures to compete. During the early days of the financial crisis in 2008-2009, there was not a single individual or organization that accepted responsibility for their part in causing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Recent examples of teachers correcting student test scores to ensure classroom averages remained competitive to gain government funding were rationalized based on the pressure to keep funding intact and maintain the status quo in some school districts.
The consistent behavior of making excuses when things don’t turn out the way we want weakens us as individuals and weakens the very fabric of our society. With respect to personal growth and accomplishment, when we fall into the trap of blaming our shortcomings on others or our environment, we quickly position ourselves as a victim and momentum builds to continue to underperform in the future.
Many times, there are very legitimate reasons and obstacles that hinder our ability to reach our potential or accomplish some specific goal. There are “bad bosses” in the workplace, poor teachers in the classroom, “difficult” family members we have to deal with, and there are extremely heavy pressures to remain competitive on the athletic field and in the business world. However, when we move beyond just the acknowledgement of those obstacles to blaming those obstacles for the choices we make and outcome that results, we quickly move to the position of a victim. That choice limits our potential, shackles us to our situation, and prevents us from rising above and overcoming.
Even though there have been numerous examples of excuse making over the last decade, there are a few examples in recent history to guide us in a more effective way to deal with the pressures of life and the outcomes we deliver. Victor E. Frankl was a psychiatrist and a Jew who was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany during World War II. He suffered immense torture and also witnessed the death of many of his closest relatives. Through a tremendous demonstration of self-awareness and discipline, Frankl began to think and then act on what he described as “the last of the human freedoms” in his book Man’s Search For Meaning. The prison guards could take away a great many freedoms, but Frankl refused to let them take his freedom to choose his response to his difficult situation. He made the decision to transcend his environment, hope and plan for his eventual release, and he became an inspiration to those around him. Frankl acted on his freedom to choose and accepted responsibility for his decisions and actions despite some very difficult circumstances. In a similar demonstration of personal responsibility, Mahatma Gandhi, during the height of one of his most challenging situations, encouraged his supporters by declaring, “They cannot take away our self-respect, if we do not give it to them.”
Our decision to Accept Responsibility for our decisions and actions in all situations enables us to break-free from a victim mindset and puts us on a clear path to personal growth and accomplishment. As Frankl described the freedom to choose our response as “the last of all human freedoms,” we should consider our decision to Accept Responsibility for our response as the critical next step in our journey for personal growth and accomplishment.
At Harvest Time Partners, we continue the development of material to support and encourage individuals applying the two steps of The Acceptance Principle (Accept Reality and Accept Responsibility). We look forward to incorporating your feedback and comments as we continue to move this concept forward into the lives of individuals and organizations.
If you would like to leave a comment, please do so below.