Yesterday I got a number of calls from my eldest who is 190 miles away in Austin. Seems his computer monitor got knocked over and broke. He was calling to ask if the warranty would cover that. (AppleCare spoiled him. They fixed everything on his MacBooks.)
I could tell he was trying to get me to handle his problem for him, but just a little. I gave advice, but didn’t really do much.
So he took care of it himself. He called the maker and found out damage isn’t covered and repair would cost more than a new monitor. He rode the bus to Best Buy and got a new one.
I thought, “He’s getting all grown up.”
Then I wondered what I meant by that. I mean he’s been off on his own for 3 years now at UT. For a year before that, he was pretty much free and had to buy his own food.
He had to take responsibility for his actions. This most people consider a hallmark to being an adult. And we wonder why there seems to be so little of it in the world today.
But taking responsibility for your actions isn’t something you really get a choice in once you become an adult and once you leave your parents home. You commit a crime, you are taking responsibility for it whether you want to or not. You don’t have money to pay for stuff, you are going to deal with the problem – even if that means getting on the dole. If you don’t you’ll suffer hunger – the consequence – no matter what you believe should happen.
No, what he was doing was taking responsibility for himself. There is a subtle but important difference.
Taking responsibility for yourself is proactive. It is deciding you’ll get what you want by your own actions and not depend on others to do it for you.
It requires a choice. You can passively sit around and let things happen when they happen. If the consequences of those actions don’t meet up to your desires, well you can endure them. But if you want something to happen – you don’t like the consequences enough – you can take responsibility for yourself and go change something.
Taking responsibility for yourself is a key and powerful distinction.