Practicing Responsibility


Practicing Responsibility

by Firecat
January 14, 2020

Christopher Avery, founder of The Responsibility Company, has been my client on and off for 30 years. Last year, I signed up as a full-price participant in Responsibility Immersion so that I can, as closely as possible, experience his program as its participants do. 

When first introduced to The Responsibility Process and concepts in the 1990s, I appreciated the method and framework, but assumed I *already knew and practiced* responsibility. 

I later came to realize this was arrogance.

Is Responsibility self-denial?

In my culture, we’re often directly taught through discipline and rewards/punishments that “taking responsibility” is

  • self-denial,
  • self-discipline,
  • Shame, and
  • Obligation.

We hear:

  • “Be quiet; wait your turn.
  • “Admit you did it and say you’re sorry.
  • “Do as you’re told.”
  • “You’re older; give that to your sister.”

Christopher and his worldwide faculty teach, on the other hand, that Responsibility is the >ability to respond to any situation or upset from a clear, empowered mental state. His studies reveal that all human beings, when struggling with an upset or disappointment, move through one from one or more of these built-in, inherently disempowering coping states:

  • Lay Blame
  • Justify
  • Shame
  • Obligation, or,
  • Quit.

When I encountered Christopher and his material in the 1990s, I assessed The Responsibility Process and his book Teamwork is an Individual Skill as interesting, valuable, somewhat enlightening, but it didn’t really seem to apply to me. “I’m a successful entrepreneur and leader with a strong network and track record for success. But it’s great that this material exists for people who need it.” I assumed I had mastered these concepts already, and that I practiced responsibility better than most people.

Just before my corporate UX strategy team was eliminated last June, Christopher contacted me for consulting help to analyze, restructure and expand the worldwide Responsibility community to speed its growth. As part of that effort, I decided to enroll and pay full price for the training so I could have “skin in the game” and really experience its value. I joined the “Mastery Group” and studied the core modules to understand the process. I recommended we offer that course to focus people’s attention and get a jump start.

That turned out to be a good decision. I helped create, then signed on for, the first cohort, and for this second time through, I decided to go “all in.” That second round broke me open in so many important ways. I moved from theory to practice. On my real thoughts, feelings, behaviors, decisions.

The journey has been enlightening, and at times so excruciating that I don’t think I could continue without a cohort around me doing the same thing. Seeing others on the journey enduring the pain but staying with the work makes all the difference for me.

Showing a little tenderness – to myself

I have long flattered myself that I don’t beat myself up with ugly self-talk. And that’s true. But I realized I’ve been doing a crap job of being tender with myself, and tending to my own needs.

In my role as reluctant caregiver, I see that rather than loving and accepting myself and my husband, I operate by driving myself – operating out of a place of Obligation. I expect my life partner, son and colleagues to do the same. This caregiver situation is a perfect setup for self-flagellation (and shaming my partner).

I’m finally seeing that, far from being laudable (as our culture teaches), this martyrdom, this servitude is disempowering me, as well as my husband and son. It locks us in cycles of resentment.

Driving myself has been effective for achieving career movement, creating businesses, programs and nonprofits, keeping many balls in the air and plates spinning. But I’m ready to get off my self-designed hamster wheel. I want to be more purposeful about keeping myself at the top of my own priority list so I can continue to meet my self-selected commitments and agreements from a sustainable, fulfilling state. Pressures are easing for me, and my desired results, far from getting worse, are multiplying. It’s a bit mind-blowing.

I’m so grateful to the worldwide Responsibility community for helping me get this far.

If you’re interested in joining us in Responsibility Immersion, let me know; I have a discount code to share. I’d love to see you in the web conferences and share the journey.

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