What’s the main difference between a boy and a man? A girl and a woman? Among the many differences between the two, one of the most prominent ones is the fact that the latter is held responsible for their actions. If a boy has a meltdown and starts yelling at the supermarket, there isn’t much criticism that’s thrown his way. However, if a grown man does the same thing, he’d get kicked out of the store. He is held responsible for his actions whereas the child gets away with it.
Responsibility grows with us, just as our beards do (still waiting for mine). The older you get, the more responsibilities you’re expected to take on, even if you are not prepared for them. The lights don’t stay on automatically, the fridge walls aren’t full of goods and clothes don’t fold themselves. The key to our growth as individuals lies in our ability to handle the various responsibilities thrown at us.
But the functions of growth are not limited to taking on the chores that used to be done for us. Responsibility stretches far beyond simply completing tasks. We have all set goals for ourselves at one point or another. “I want to be able to do X by this point in time.” Or, “I want to get X, soon”. The moral of the story is that individuals love chasing their Xs and hoping one day they will get them. However, the key to getting our X has always been with us; responsibility.
In 2011, the Lakers played the Heat and lost by six points. Six points, three field goals or two three-pointers short of tying the game. Kobe Bryant was so displeased with the way he played, that he stayed back after the game, for 90 minutes and practiced. His teammates, on the other hand, were having dinner at Miami beach. When asked years later why? He replied without any hesitation, “It’s my Job”.
There is a reason why people around the world mourned Bryant’s loss. He was more than a basketball player, he was an icon, an epitome of hard work and taking on responsibility (Mamba Mentality). Every successful person that I look up to has demonstrated this key trait throughout their life. They not only take responsibility for their actions, but even their failures. If you’re familiar with the term ‘Extreme Ownership’, you probably know the story of Jocko Willink, an American retired officer of the United States Navy. He served as the leader of the Team 3’s Task Unit Bruiser that fought in the battle of Ramadi. He’s a well-respected individual who was honored with the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service. This man knows what being responsible means. He literally took responsibility for every mission, every death, every mistake that took place during his service. There is a reason why he was a leader for a team that could die any second.
I strongly believe that when individuals start to see themselves as survivors of unfortunate events rather than victims, they can uplift themselves and people around them. Malala Yousafzai didn’t succumb to the oppression of the men in her village, rather she stood up for the girls around them and took a bullet for them. She took upon the responsibility of educating herself and the girls around her.
When we start to become more responsible for our goals and failures, we become more active in our growth as individuals. The movement towards self-improvement starts when we start churning the wheel. What do I want to achieve? What is stopping me from doing it? These are critical questions we must ask ourselves, but the most important one I believe, is What am I going to do about it?
If we don’t hold ourselves responsible for the extra weight we have, the failed relationship, the incomplete book, or the series of rejections from companies, we won’t improve and stay stagnate for the rest of our lives or even worse, fall back more. Take something you want, a job, a new PR, a relationship, anything! Hold yourself responsible for it and work for it. No one else will do it for you. And if you fail, and they ask you why? Be ready to say it was because of me, not X, Y or Z, just me.