By | November 16, 10


Taking personal responsibility for your business, relationship, career, and for every area of your life is crucial to success. You are the one that will work out your success; it is not the responsibility of others.

To be in control of your life, it is important to know what responsibility is, and how to ensure you are not passing it to other people or circumstances unknowingly.

I will just allow Louis Barajas to show you how not taking personal responsibility could be hindering your life success, including business success, and to help you develop the capacity for taking responsibility in every area of your life. This information is from an excerpt from his great book, Small Business, Big Life: Five Steps To Creating A Great Life With Your Own Small Business.

Here it is, enjoy it:


In my seminars, I tell a story about Maria and Roberto. Roberto is on his deathbed and his wife, Maria, is there with him. He says to her, “Maria, I love you so much. You’ve always been there for me. You were with me when I lost my job. You were with me when the house burned down accidentally and we had to rebuild it.

You were with me when my back went out and I couldn’t walk for six months. You were with me when our daughter married the Hell’s Angel. You were with me when she left him and moved back in with her three kids. You’ve been with me through some of the toughest times a man could experience.” Then he thinks for a moment and says, “Come to think of it, maybe you’re the one that brought me all the bad luck!”

The surest way to achieve success in life and in business is taking personal responsibility for both. Unfortunately, I run across so many people who blame everyone but themselves. Before I start working with any business owner, I ask them two questions: (1) Who controls your destiny? (2) Why is your life or business not working? Here are a few of the responses I hear to the first question:

“God controls my destiny.”
“My wife controls my destiny.”
“My kids control my destiny.”
“My parents control my destiny.”
“My boss controls my destiny.”
“The government controls my destiny.”
“The shortage of time, money, or experience controls my destiny.”

There are many other excuses (some so weird that I didn’t write them here because you wouldn’t believe me). But they all boil down to the concept of fatalism. Fatalism is the belief that someone or something other than you controls your destiny.

Unfortunately, with this belief you give up the right to live the life of your dreams. Success requires that you stand up and take responsibility for your life and your actions. You can’t just wait for God or the bank or your friends or whomever to give you what you need.

You have to take the actions that will create what you desire. As someone once told me, “God made the fish and the nets, but he didn’t put the fish in the nets.” You need to cast the net and catch the fish.

For most people, the answer to the second question (“Why is your life or business not working?”) almost always describes circumstances outside themselves. “My life’s not working because I don’t have enough time for my family; I’m working so hard to get the business going:’ “My business isn’t working because we don’t have enough customers.” ”I’ve been sick.” “My kids have been sick.” “Our competition is making an aggressive push into our market.” I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “It’s my fault things aren’t working.” Only when you take responsibility for how your life and business are functioning can you actually do something to make them both better.

Taking responsibility means making the hard choices and doing the difficult things that will be required of you as a business owner. It’s never enjoyable to have to reprimand or fire someone. It’s not easy to hold salespeople accountable for producing results, to ask someone to stay late to correct a mistake, or to be the “bad guy” who insists on keeping to the budget. But it’s your job.

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk in the Oval Office: “The buck stops here:’ As the owner of the business, your job is to take ultimate responsibility for your business and its workings. The buck stops with you. If you need to lay off staff because of a slowdown in your business, you should never expect your human resources person or your store supervisor to take the heat when it comes to sitting down with people and telling them they no longer have jobs.

It’s not the responsibility of your shop foreman to make the decision about who gets fired. Yes, your manager or HR person or foreman can make recommendations, but let it be your decision. You’re the one who gets both the credit and blame at the end of the day, so you might as well take responsibility for whatever is producing both.

You also have to be willing to take action immediately. Waiting for things to work out is often the worst thing you can do. How many businesses have folded simply because the owners were waiting for things to work out? Truly responsible owners are proactive.

They won’t ask someone else to do the hard jobs, and they won’t wait to make the tough choices. In the same way that everyone has to take responsibility for his or her job, you have to take responsibility for your job as the owner. And that means tough choices, made pro actively, and executed in a timely fashion.

The Personal Responsibility Formula

When you’re ready and willing to step up to the plate and take responsibility for yourself and your business, how do you know what choices to make? Especially in difficult situations or emergencies, when people are looking at you as the owner and asking, “What should we do?” how can you put aside your emotions and make choices that you won’t regret?

Years ago, I heard author Jack Canfield describe a personal responsibility formula at one of his seminars. This personal responsibility formula has changed my life since the first time I heard it. It looks like this:

E (events) + R (your response) = O (outcome)

I believe this formula is an accurate representation of life. Events happen-they happen to you, to the people around you, to your business, to your country, to the world. You have little to no control over most of the events in your life.

However, you do control your response to those events. Notice I say “response,” not reaction. A reaction is a knee-jerk response (with emphasis on the “jerk”). There’s no thought or analysis; often there’s a lot of negative emotion in a reaction.

To understand the difference between responding and reacting, imagine that you have an itchy rash. You go to the dermatologist, and she gives you a prescription for medication. A couple of days later, you go back to the doctor. If she says you are responding to the medication, it means you are getting better. However, if she tells you that you are reacting to the medication, you know that you are not getting better; in fact, usually you are getting worse.

Responsibility is the ability to respond rather than react. You are making a conscious choice to behave in a way that will move you closer to your ideal outcome. But what do most people do when faced with a problem? They react. When you respond to events rather than react to them, you’ve taken a moment to think about the event and decide the best way to handle it.

You realize that, while you can’t control events, you can control your thoughts, attitudes, choices, and decisions. You can lower the intensity of any negative emotion and instead take the actions that will produce the outcome you want. You’re in control of your response to the event, instead of blindly reacting to it.

One of the best ways to respond to events instead of reacting is to focus on your ideal outcome. For example, you have a long commute every morning and you know that eventually there will probably be an accident or unexpected road construction that may slow traffic to a crawl.

It’s Monday morning and you have a full day ahead of you, and the freeway’s jammed. If you’re reacting to the event, you probably get mad or frustrated or worse. You spend the extra hour fuming, honking your horn, and yelling at the other drivers. By the time you get to work you’re in a bad mood, and you make others around you miserable.

But what if you take responsibility and prepare for this almost-certain event? You might decide to have a book on tape or a soothing CD in the car to listen to while you are stuck in traffic. I hook my iPod to my car radio and listen to comedy. There’s nothing like coming into the office smiling! That’s a much better outcome than making others feel lousy for no fault of their own.

Let me share with you just one of many stories of how this formula has made my life better. I came home one Friday from a very exhausting book tour. My family and I like to make Friday a “family date” night, and we usually go to the movies or out to dinner. But I was so exhausted that I excused myself. I told my family they should go to dinner without me-I just wanted to stay home and rest.

My wife, who knows my workshop material almost better than I do, gently reminded me of the personal responsibility formula as she and the kids were jumping into the car. Then my youngest daughter, Aubrey, said that she had been waiting for our dinner date all week and that she really missed me. She also reminded me that I always tell people that life is about creating memories.

Boy, was that a wake-up call! She was right. I remembered the responsibility formula. My ideal outcome was to have a wonderful time with my family. The event was coming home exhausted. I was reacting to my current situation instead of taking responsibility for my outcome. My response was to get off the couch and take my family out to dinner. How did the evening end? We had a great time.

What are some times in your life where you reacted in a less-than-resourceful way? What could you have done differently? How could you have responded to the situation and made it better? What are some of the problems that are likely to arise when you start your small business? How can you create a plan for responding to these opportunities instead of reacting to them?

Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” I believe the price of entrepreneurship is personal responsibility. You must decide if you are willing to direct your thoughts and emotions, to respond to events rather than react to them, to focus on your ideal outcomes, and to make sure your choices are leading you toward those outcomes. Only then will you be ready to build both a great small business and a very big life.

Recommended Resource

This is a great book by all standard, and I very much gladly recommend it to you to help you make your small business highly successful.

Small Business, Big Life: Five Steps To Creating A Great Life With Your Own Small Business

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