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When life does not go our way or we inadvertently make a mistake, it is so easy to make excuses, place blame on others, or argue that circumstances were against us. But we only progress in life to the extent that we take responsibility for our actions and attitudes, and put forth the initiative necessary to create our own circumstances. Responsibility is about action, about taking a decision, the decision of not sitting idly and waiting for miracles to happen, it’s about getting up, tying up the shoe strings, and start running. Responsibility is associated with ownership; ownership for your own decisions, feeling responsible for the decisions, for the words that one gives to oneself and others. Chuck Norris, the Hollywood actor, started his career at acting when he was 36, he also didn’t have a chance against those 16000 odd actors. But he owned the responsibility of the decision that he took, hence he didn’t have an option of leaving. If he had considered the option, he most certainly wouldn’t have been an actor, and one of the most successful action heroes of all time. This trait and attitude that was responsible for his success, had its beginning when Norris was young, mentioning an incident from his life – “I was sixteen and found a job packing groceries at a Boys Market in Gardena, a Los Angeles suburb. It was 1the 950s, and in those days grocery store used boxes for the heavier items. I thought everything was fine, until the end of the first day, when the manager told me not to return. I wasn’t sacking enough. I was a painfully shy kid, and I surprised myself when I blurted out, “Let me come back tomorrow and try one more time. I know I’ll do better!” Speaking up went against my very nature, but it worked. I got a second chance, move a lot faster, and for the next year and a half boxed groceries from four to ten on weekdays for $1.25 an hour and sometimes all day on Saturday or Sunday. That moment when I spoke up is burned in my memory, and so is the lesson; if you want to accomplish anything in life, you can’t just sit back and hope it will happen. You’ve got to make it happen.” Norris said, People, whine, “I haven’t succeeded because I haven’t had the breaks”. You create your own break. In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned similar story of Sylvester Stallion.  Undoubtedly the day-to-day circumstances we encounter influence the opportunities that come our way. But in the final analysis, as Chuck Norris pointed out, we create our own breaks as we take responsibility of our life – and that includes working hard and speaking up for ourselves. From Hollywood to nearer home, in fact, my home; my mother used to calculate orally even she was able to multiply six digit numbers without using a calculator. She used to keep the record of daily expenses and used to allocate budget for the monthly expenses, after calculating expenses like Milkman’s bill, she would call me to check her calculation which she did without using any calculator, I used to check it using a calculator and could never find a mistake in her calculations. She was an arts graduate, didn’t learnt mathematics beyond her class 8th. She used to tell us that she was very afraid of maths and flunked class 8 half yearly exam, where she scored 0 in maths. She was very disappointed, her teacher called her and told her to practice, she accepted the advice, and practiced, finished her maths book many times, and scored 100 out of 100 in her final exam, and then never studied maths. It was the responsibility that she took for her decision to practice. She owned it and practiced, and scored 100% marks; she not only scored marks but obviously mastered the subject, which stayed with her for life. We make promises, commitments in most flippant and careless way, because don’t even think about ownership and responsibility of the words that we give to other or to ourselves. How many times you have set an alarm for 5 o’clock in the morning so that you can study or go for a walk or do some morning yoga or exercise? You’d say many times; and how many times you snoozed the alarm and went back to sleep? Did you ever give a thought to this action? The very first action in the morning is an irresponsible action of not keeping your words to yourself. When you set your alarm at night, you sort of make a commitment, an agreement to yourself, that when this alarm would ring in the morning I will get up, and then when it does, you snooze it, because you didn’t took the responsibility for your decision. Such innocuous looking instance forms a habit, a tendency, a belief that its ok to break a promise, its ok to go back on your commitment, its ok not to own the responsibility for the promise that you made to yourself. Just think about it, if you cannot keep a promise to yourself, how would you honor the words that you give to others. After promising, giving a commitment, you would start looking for excuses, reasons for not being able to fulfil the promise, because most of the time we promise without giving a thought, to the possibility of fulfilling that promise Taking responsibility for your life is the notion that despite what happens to us, we have the capacity to choose our responses – our attitudes, thoughts and actions. It is the concept that suggests that on the climb up any ladder of success there is no room for just sitting back and idly hoping for the luck or woefully waiting for a better circumstance. The concept that Spencer Jonson elaborated in his cult book – “Who moved my cheese”.  The best way to predict our future is to create them. As such, the principle of responsibility is one of the most powerful, life enhancing, life changing principles we have at our disposal, if we just learn how to master and channel it toward worthwhile purposes.

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