“The truest test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” – John Wooden
Life is made better when we are at our best. And we are at our best, when we aspire to be better than we are. This is that sweet spot, or zone, where we come in contact with our own nobility. Personal responsibility is one of the surest ways to get there and it comes with a huge bonus – it inspires everyone around you.
When I write my thrillers, my number one job is to entertain. If I have done that, then by definition I have been successful. But by virtue of who I am, that’s not enough. I want to bring you more. That’s why I like to explore themes in my novels. In PATH OF THE ASSASSIN, it is personal responsibility.
There really is no greater measure of character than what a person does when no one is watching. Personal responsibility is taking ownership of your actions, and the consequences – be they public or private – whether you are right or you are wrong.
I read somewhere once, that we should live our lives so that if any part were ever published (which in the Internet age is an ever-present possibility), we would be proud. I would argue, though, that none of us is that perfect. We all make mistakes – it is what allows us to learn, become better, and accumulate wisdom. Our capacity to make mistakes – even really, really dumb ones – is what makes us human. Our capacity to take ownership of those mistakes and accept the consequences is part of what makes us noble.
Answering for your actions is easy when you have made the right choices. It is when we err that it becomes much more difficult. Everyone makes mistakes, though, and when you take personal responsibility you not only take the wind out of your critics’ sails, but you set an example that elevates the bar for those around you. This singular action sets you apart from others and challenges them to be better.
For the record, personal responsibility isn’t just something dealing with moral issues – Should Scot Harvath pull the trigger or not? Should I turn in this bag of money I found…? What about whether or not you exercise? How about bettering your family’s life by summoning the courage to ask for that raise you know you deserve? Aren’t those matters of personal responsibility as well?
Personal responsibility is about always trying to do the right thing and then always owning whatever it was that you did – no matter what.
If taking personal responsibility were easy, everyone would do it – and the world would be a much better place. Of course, we know taking personal responsibility isn’t always easy, especially when we’re wrong and/or have made an embarrassing mistake. I will share a secret with you, though. Taking personal responsibility is a habit. The more you practice it, the easier (and more rewarding) it gets. Like a muscle, your fiber becomes stronger. You will see your personal relationships improve, the conduct of those around you improve, and most importantly you will discover a steady peace that comes from having more control over your own life.
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