Tap into the power of radical responsibility.

freelancer in the driver's seat

I’m not the first person to talk about this approach to life and work.

But I have been applying it to my own life and career for longer than most people. Decades. I’ve also been teaching it to my kids from an early age.

What is “radical responsibility”?

At its simplest, it’s about taking responsibility for the circumstances and situations in which you find yourself.

For example, if I’m finding it harder than usual to pick up new writing projects, even from existing clients, it would be tempting for me to say something like…

“It’s the economy. Companies are cutting back on their expenses.”

Or I might have been sent an email by a client saying the work I just submitted was off-brief…

“The client’s brief was totally unclear. I had no chance to deliver great work.”

In each of these cases I’m placing responsibility for my circumstances on external forces… the economy, my client.

Good reasons. Totally legit. I’m not wrong.

But still…

When you blame your situation on external forces, you are giving up the power to direct your own life.

Think about that.

If I blame the economy for my lack of new gigs, I’m giving up the power to change my own life.

After all, if it’s the economy’s fault, I’m powerless. I certainly can’t mend the economy.

Same with the example of a client writing a poor brief. I can’t miraculously transform him into a great writer of briefs.

I’m pretty much saying, “Hey, it’s not my fault. This is out of my control.”

And that makes me a victim. I’m a victim of circumstances.

Now I have the mindset of a victim.

I’m no longer in the driver’s seat. I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle being driven by someone or something else.

I’m a passenger feeling sorry for himself.

This is why you need to take radical responsibility for everything that impacts your life and your work.

OK, so the economy sucks. What are you going to do about it?

How are you going to adapt? What new opportunities might this present?

How can you help clients and prospects as THEY adapt to a tough economy?

In other words, even if the poor economy is having a real impact on millions of people, that doesn’t mean you have to lie belly-up on the floor and blame it for your falling income.

Instead, stand tall, take radical responsibility for your own career, and find ways to use your skills to help clients who are being impacted by the same challenges.

Same with the client who can’t write a decent brief.

Don’t throw up your arms and say, “Not my fault”.

Instead, take radical responsibility for your situation. Stay in the driver’s seat. Next time, before you start on the project, send him a follow-up email asking for clarification on any sections of the brief you feel are missing or ambiguous.

After that, as you think about how the business world is probably filled with marketing managers who don’t know how to write a decent brief, write and publish an eBook on best practices when writing briefs for freelancers.

Now you’re a published author. You’ve taken back control.

Apply radical responsibility to everything in your life.

In work and in our personal lives, we constantly make excuses.

It’s my client’s fault. It’s the government’s fault. It’s the bank’s fault. It’s the teacher’s fault. It’s the neighbor’s fault. It’s my partner’s fault.

Poor little me. Not my fault. I’m the victim here.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.

As soon as you accept total responsibility for what’s happening around you, you take back power over your own life.

No longer the victim of unfair circumstances, but the driver of your own destiny.

I’m not saying it’s easy. And I sometimes catch myself playing the role of victim.

But feeling like a victim is a miserable state of mind.

I’d rather empower myself and take responsibility for my next steps.

I like to be the boss of my next moves forward, mistakes and all.

Radical responsibility!

7 thoughts on “Tap into the power of radical responsibility.”

  1. Wow. Oh, wow. I’m printing this out and keeping it close, Nick.
    Playing victim and then rewarding oneself with a wingding of a pity party gets you nowhere. Except maybe a touch of a hangover if the pity party gets out of hand.
    Been there, done that.
    It’s just so easy to put the blame elsewhere.
    Now I’ve got two words that’ll help me take the right road.
    Yep. RR = Radical Responsibility.
    Thank you, thank you!!

  2. This is so true and so insightful. My husband and I have had some experiences where we were taken advantage of. We could have blamed the person who did that to us, but instead we were responsible for seeing the potential for predatory behavior and protecting ourselves. And, there’s that time we got lost in the woods in Switzerland with our two Great Danes (did I mention that it was rainy so we left our glasses at home and couldn’t read the map on our phones?). We didn’t get home until after dark. We were wet and frozen and laughed at ourselves and said, “Next time, the glasses go in the pocket”. We worked together, we never once blamed each other, and it is a story we will tell to anyone who will listen!

  3. Life will always throw you a curve. If you can’t adapt and move past those smaller setbacks, how will you handle a true emergency or devastating turn of events? No one promised an easy walk in the park. Even the nicest parks have potholes. You must learn to roll with the changes, laugh through the hardships, and suck it up in order to move forward with confidence in your steps and a smile on your face.

  4. Golden advice! If you want to feel low self-esteem, depression, worthlessness, hopelessness, sadness, and anger toward the world in general, assume the victim role. I 100% guarantee you will get what you asked for.

  5. I so enjoyed this post Nick. It’s timely for me, as I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I had framed it slightly differently in my mind, calling it ‘the power of owning your problems’, especially for the external ones that may not be your fault. It boils down to exactly what you are saying here. Thank you for a great read.

  6. One should never worry about things they can not control. World Leaders and economical issues are always in the news. Tony Robbins says that things happen for you not to you. Data shows that online business is going to continue to grow and become extremely strong in the years ahead. I will head my business into this direction. Stay positive and find new results for your business and adapt your life style to these new changes.

    Our World has changed and will never return to to the old ways. If you want to survive & thrive, you have to adapt and find new ways to work and live…

    Good Post Nick…

  7. I’ve been taking responsibility for my own actions (or lack of actions) since the early 80’s. One night I was sitting at my kitchen table thinking about the recession. I had been telling myself “I can’t afford to go back to school.” That night I changed my self-talk to “I can’t afford NOT to go back to school.” My life changed for the better and I was fully employed for over 30 years because I made the decision to take action . Go back to school and get an education, something no one can ever take away from me.

    That’s my story of taking responsibility for my own life. Thank you for the chance to share, Nick.


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