In the early days of my coaching business, I tried all sorts of ways of 'positioning' myself: Finding my 'ideal' client, defining my coaching 'niche' - all the marketing 'rules' they bombard you with when you start out in business (if you've never heard of any of that - congratulate yourself!).
Anyway, ALL of them failed (I've learnt a thing or two since then!) - but they led to some very interesting discoveries. See, for a while, I tried to position myself by offering to help people take 'more responsibility' for their lives.... Can you imagine???
Turns out - it was a total turn off for most people. Turns out, NOBODY wants more responsibility. SURPRISE!! Lol.
A pug in a Yoda costume??!? Come on - isn't that sometimes how we feel when were only just learning to use 'the force' in our lives???
OK, so while that one didn't go well in terms of marketing - I DO want to come back in a last ditch effort here to take a stand for 'responsibility'. (I'm newly encouraged by my amazing mentor Kain Ramsay launching his book 'The responsibility rebellion' earlier this year!) So please - before you run a mile the other way - hear me out!!!
So - why why WHY do I want people to take more responsibility??? And what for? Is this about taking action for animals, climate, waste minimization? Or just about 'not being stupid'??? Don't we all have enough of our plates already?????????
Or - GASP - worse than this: Isn't this like VICTIM BLAMING?????? Holding people responsible for stuff that happened TO them when it was clearly not their fault??
Let me make this clear: The ONLY reason why I suggest taking more responsibility for the things that are going on in your life is because I want you to have more CONTROL and influence over what is going on in your life - so you can have the best life possible.
It's actually very simple: There are two kinds of things: things we CAN control (or take influence over) - and things we CAN'T. You've all heard this prayer:
"Grant me the strength to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can't - and the wisdom to know the difference"
Taking this to heart means we can 'mindset' our way around things we can not change - we can accept, forgive, endure, allow, forget, ignore or, sometimes, deny, appreciate the gifts in... but we won't DO anything about them. We can't CHANGE them - or anything ABOUT them in the future.
Unlike the things we CAN change. They just require the strength to do so.
So - what does that have to do with responsibility?
Well - the MORE responsibility I can take for my part or contribution in ANY situation, the more I can control or change about it - because I have direct control over and can change my own behavior.
In other words:
Having choice is better than not having choice.
Ironically, most of all counseling and therapy is directed at this one simple thing: leading the 'client' to gradually take more responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors past, present and future.
So what does this mean?
Think of a situation - any situation: past or present - in your life that you feel you have no power / control over - that you feel is still happening TO you instead of FOR you. A situation that is upsetting, annoying, frustrating, devastating, depressing or even traumatic. Maybe it involves a particular person, maybe it involves just 'society', 'everyone' or even 'the weather'.
And then assume - only for the purpose of this exercise - that there was SOMETHING you were contributing or had contributed to it. Something that you did or didn't do, said or didn't say, thought or didn't think that may influence or have influenced the outcome of that situation. No matter how tiny that influence may have been. Where could you have done something differently that may have changed things? Even if you didn't realize it at the time?
Find the factors that are OUTSIDE your control - AND the factors under your control.
Those are the things you have a choice over - and to have a choice is better than not having a choice. Every. Time. So the more of those things you can find, the more will you be able to influence things in the future (learning from our challenges) - or make it easier to accept in the past.
This is not to deny that other people may have made bad choices. That there were circumstances/aspects you weren't able to control - at least at the time. This is simply to EXPAND your circle of influence as much as possible to give you MORE choices and control over the future (and the past). Because more choices mean more freedom. Only where we have responsibility to take we can actually LEARN from the challenges in our lives. There's no point learning from circumstances, there's only learning from our mistakes - because they are the things we can do differently.
Does that mean you're supposed to be beating yourself up about it, blame yourself?
I don't know - you tell me: Do you find that helpful???? Does it UPLIFT you?? Does it inspire you??
I think not. What's helpful is to accept that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they had at the time - that includes you. And it's helpful to assume that you can now grow and increase those resources by looking at what you can learn from it all, so you can do better next time.
I'm keen to hear what you think: Is responsibility a 4-letter word????