Personal agency begins with taking responsibility. And, “responsibility” is quite simply the ability to respond. Whatever happens then, you always have choice in how you respond, both inwardly —within yourself — and outwardly. The Latin roots of the word responsibility are responsabilis and abilitas — response-ability!
While the modern usage of the word most commonly points to external accountability and blamability, responsibility has much more depth. This becomes much clearer if I say something like — “your happiness is your responsibility”. Or, “what path you walk is your responsibility”. These phrases bring to the fore how you must take control of your own life. How your choices matter.
And, nothing is more common than losing personal responsibility by accepting the default without question. As Rory Sutherland very aptly points out; “we default, without consciously knowing it, to boring or conventional decisions, because they look less like decisions”. Defaulting to convention is still making a decision, albeit one that feels easy!
So, it is remembering that we each have response-ability that is the game changer. Remembering means that no matter what the external pressures are, you still create choice in how you respond. And, how you respond is very much about your inner-state, because really, your inner-state is itself a response!
What arises within your mind and body in a given situation?
How do you truly feel?
What personal beliefs govern how you feel? Are they valid? Are they sacred cows?
Is your immediate response the only one? Or, is there another way?
Really taking responsibility involves a willingness to look within — into the core of your being. It is about noticing the part that you play in any given circumstance. Every stimulus from the environment coincides with an inner experience on your side. How aware are you of what is going on?
Such deeper exploration is the path to personal mastery. It is the enabler of greater personal response-ability.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.