You are the most frequent contributor to the problems in your life. That doesn’t need to scare you or trigger guilt. It doesn’t need to offend you either. This is true for everyone. I did not create all of my problems, but I am involved in them. They are part of my life. That makes me responsible for them.
Responsibility is not limited to issues that originate from you. If it’s part of your life in some way, whether or not you created it, then you hold responsibility. There’s a good chance you contribute to perpetuating and amplifying many of the problems you are currently experiencing, including the ones you think are someone else’s fault.
Telling yourself, and anyone who will listen, a story that overstates other people’s contribution to the problem and understates yours is one of the oldest behavior patterns in the world. You see it in politics, at work, in sports, and in your family. But can you see it in yourself?
I’m sharing this because it’s a massive gap in self-awareness for many people. They believe that because they didn’t create the problem, they can ignore their contribution to the problem and its impact while expecting someone else to take responsibility for fixing it.
Every problem in your life has one thing in common: you. So lean into the responsibility for your life and the issues you’re dealing with. Turn on and turn up your self-awareness. Look closely at the problems you don’t think you created and evaluate how you’ve contributed to them.
Don’t worry about the other people involved for now. Set aside your expectations of them. Keep your focus on your contribution and responsibility. Ask yourself, “If I think this is a problem, and it’s part of my life, what does responsibility look like for me to (A) not perpetuate or increase this problem and (B) help solve or navigate this problem successfully?”
Is it common for people to think and act like this? It sure isn’t.
Be courageously uncommon.
Answer the call. Do the work.
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Brian Kight is a multi-industry leader on the topics of leadership, culture, and behavior. He provides simple systems that produce exceptional results for organizations, teams, and people.