My #1 Tip to Skyrocket Your Confidence + Power
Today I’m here to share with you one of the most valuable tools in my toolbelt for connecting you with your confidence and power: personal responsibility. In other words, owning your own sh*t, without shame or blame. Keep reading to learn why this one practice can immediately improve your confidence and power. I’ll share practical tips and actions that you can use right away. Or, if you’d prefer to listen instead, here’s the latest episode of From Good Girl to Grown Ass Woman.
Personal responsibility is synonymous with ownership, or choosing to see yourself as the cause, the creator, the initiator, the one in charge of choosing your perspective, your response, your next right action. Personal responsibility is a perspective shift from viewing things as happening TO you. When you view life and circumstances and relationship dynamics as happening TO you, it’s as if you have no agency or choice to have things go differently. We pit ourselves AGAINST someone or something, and then have to either push against that something, or defend ourselves, or else be at the mercy of being DONE TO.
Let me give you a practical example of what it looks like to have the perspective that your life is happening “to” you: you are up for a promotion at work. Your colleague gets the promotion and you do not. If you have the perspective that this is something that has happened TO you, it’s as if you’re a passive bystander in the event of not getting the promotion. Furthermore, from this perspective, there’s probably someone to blame: yourself, your colleague, or whomever made the decision to promote them. It’s their fault. Or it’s your fault.
If you find yourself regularly blaming someone or something else for how your life is going, there may be an opportunity to look on your side of the street. I totally get how confronting that can be, especially if you’re feeling disappointed or maligned or angry or righteous. You absolutely get to feel your feelings, and then gently and kindly ask yourself what your part is. What is the role that your thoughts, actions, and way of being have played in contributing to this outcome. Note that this is NOT an excuse to shift the blame to you. This is not an opportunity for you to beat yourself up, or take a ride on the shame spiral. Taking ownership has NOTHING TO DO with blame. Whole different paradigm. It’s an access for power and possibility. Reflection and inspired action. Having options and choices. NOT blame and shame.
Let’s look at the same situation of getting passed over for the promotion, through the lens of personal responsibility. From this perspective, you get to take a clear look at what had it go this way. Are there areas for growth that you could take on, that would have you be a more promotable candidate in the future? Have you actually hit a ceiling in your current organization, and it’s time to look for growth opportunities elsewhere? Is there something to learn or take with you from the experience exactly as it is? Does your organization consistently promote men while passing over equally or more qualified women or other genders, and it’s time for a frank conversation with your human resources department, and maybe to get the hell out? There are an infinite number of places to look from the perspective of ownership, that allow you to have agency and power.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you are a person who is consistently late to things, and you consider yourself at the mercy of people or circumstances that cause you to be late. A victim to the extra long line at the coffee shop that made you late. A victim of the person in front of me that took their time at the intersection, causing you to have to sit through a red light twice. A victim of yourself for failing to gas up last time you went somewhere and now you have to stop at the service station and you’re late. A victim to the phone call that interrupted the flow of your morning that you chose to answer, even though you didn’t have time. Do you see how in this instance, you’re at the mercy of other people and circumstances? There’s someone or something to blame for my lateness: traffic, phone calls, even yourself. On the other hand, what if you take ownership without blaming anyone? What if you own that you have a pattern of being late to things, and decide to have it go differently? What if you put structures and practices in place that generate a different outcome? In that case, you’re taking personal responsibility, and connecting with your power, which allows you to access new actions and ways of being, so that you can create a different outcome.
As always, there are caveats and exceptions to this concept. Things you are NOT responsible for, in any way shape or form, are things you did not have a choice to participate in. You did not consent, for instance, to the shit that happened to you as a kid. You did not consent to discriminatory practices levied against you, like racisim or sexism. You did not consent to being a victim of violence or destructive weather or anything else that was or is beyond your sphere of influence. What we’re working with around personal responsibility is a tool to support you in re-empowering yourself and taking intentional action that moves you toward what you want. NOT victim blaming.
This also goes for accomplishments, achievements, and accolades that you refuse to take responsibility for. You may be the person who got the promotion, and yet you chalk it up to luck, your team being great, or your boss favors you over others, or something else that you consider outside of you. You may downplay your success. And while maybe you DO have a great team, and maybe your boss DOES favor you; would you be willing to consider why that is? Perhaps you have a great team because you are excellent at building trust with your colleagues. Maybe your boss favors you because she notices time and time again that you do what you say you’re going to do, that you are a person of integrity, that you lead by example, and any number of other factors. Maybe that has something to do with it. When you choose to hand off responsibility, you are diminishing your own power. You’re missing the opportunity to notice who you were being, and what you were doing, that resulted in that outcome. On the other hand, if you are willing to fully own your part in whatever happened, in this case, achieving a promotion, when you are willing to take ownership of that, you get to acknowledge what’s working and what’s not. That allows you to duplicate, magnify, eliminate actions, practices, and ways of being. It also allows you to mentor and lead and teach others, based on what you’ve learned. You get to be of service.
Self-Reflection: What does personal responsibility mean if there’s no one to blame?
Practice taking responsibility throughout the day, beyond blame or shame.
Who were you being that had it go that way? What were you doing that had it go that way?