When people use the word ‘responsible’ what they usually mean is that someone can be trusted to do the right thing. “Jim is a responsible person” … And that is certainly what I thought I meant … until I had it more clearly defined for me.
My moment of epiphany first came when I saw Jack Canfield speak and he talked about his formula for creating the life outcomes you want. His formula was this:
E + R = O
Where E is the event, R is your response and O is the outcome. What Jack explained is that while we may not always have control over the events in our business and our life, we do always have 100% control over our response, thereby giving us 100% control over our outcomes.
This can seem like common sense when you read it and the truth is most of us (me included) operates more by default and ‘reacts’ vs. intentionally choosing to ‘respond’.
Take this scenario for example: Think of the last time someone cut you off in traffic in an extremely selfish and discourteous way. What was your immediate response?
Did you sit and ponder the situation and ask yourself, now what is the best way to respond here so I get the outcome I want?
Or did you just react?
Be honest, you just reacted right?
The reality is, this is the way most of us live our lives – in all areas – when your spouse gets upset at you, when an employee does not deliver, when you lose a big account, when you win a big account … the list goes on.
So what is the point you ask?
Well, take the scenario above. You may have felt immediately angry, flipped the bird to the other driver, honked your horn and generally got yourself hot under the collar. Once you got to work you may have told others about it and relived the experience over and over. And each time you did, you put yourself into a certain emotional state. And that state produces a certain quality to your actions and influences the results you produced in that moment. Basically how you feel is reflected back to you by the outcomes you produce and in turn witness as reality (another massively misunderstood word).
So the point is this – ‘choosing to respond’ in a way that will put you in the right emotional state massively attributes to the way you feel, the quality of your actions and in turn the quality of your results. And those results become your experience.
What responsibility (response – ability) means in that in every moment you have the ability to respond. It is your choice. While you may blame an event for your outcomes, that is simply not the true cause. It is your response that is the true cause.
We can take this further and apply it to how we shape our world through our perception. Each of us sees the world and the people and events in it through our own filter. That filter gives everything meaning. And that meaning for us becomes our reality.
Now, is it really ‘reality’ if we can make it different by giving it different meaning?
Let’s put it another way. If two people are involved in the same event but each see it differently, which one is ‘reality’? You see, reality is subjective and can be changed.
The best example of this is when people read and interpret email. An email contains some text to which the reader attaches meaning based on their filters. The meaning they give it may or may not have been what the writer intended but the point is, we are each ‘responsible’ for the meaning we give to people and events.
When we feel stressed, it is not that the situation is in fact stressful, but it is the story we tell ourselves about the event that creates the feeling of stress within us. It is OUR story not the event that causes stress.
This is the essence of responsibility. We are each responsible for the quality of our experience in every way. We have choice in how we respond. Choice in our stories and in our actions.
When you grasp this concept it is truly empowering. It really puts you in the drivers seat not only to be in control of your future outcomes but also to control how you feel in each moment. And at the end of the day, we are all striving for a certain feeling. Everything we do is so we can achieve or move away from a feeling. Knowing we can have the feelings we want at any moment is a great revelation.
Now if only it were that easy. What I’ve written above may be true but that does not make it simple to do. It is a life practice. And the first step is to understand the true meaning and implications of the word ‘responsibility’.
How will you choose to respond today?