As I walked down a darkened hallway at our local community college yesterday, I listened to several high school basketball players complain about playing time. There were three young men in the group, and the first two were going back and forth about how it was unfair that neither of them had started the team’s previous game, and then how they had played diminished minutes after they eventually checked in. Finally, after a few rounds of listening to his teammates complain, the third kid finally jumped all over the other two, pointing out how their lack of effort to prepare throughout the summer may be the reason that they were not seeing the court as much as they would like. As the first two kids started to offer up weak excuses, I silently smiled to myself.
When things do not go the way you hoped they would many people will either make an excuse or blame someone else. In the case above, the young men decided that the coach was responsible for their not playing instead of taking accountability for their lack of effort during the offseason. During my years of coaching, I often experienced this situation. When you do not do the requisite work, do not be surprised when you do not receive the reward. Sometimes in life you will do the work and still not get what you want, so it always amazes me when people expect to succeed without putting in the necessary effort.
Personal responsibility is an easy thing to recognize but a difficult thing to maintain. We have all embraced a new workout regimen, diet, or other plan for self improvement only to have our efforts tail off after a few days or weeks. We know when we are not giving our best, and an easy indicator is if you have to find an excuse for your lack of persistence. When we start to think ‘poor me’ or ‘I’ll do it later’ we are not taking full personal responsibility for becoming the people we truly desire to become. At the end of the day, when we fail to properly accept the things we need to do we ensure we will fall short of our original goals.
We all battle taking personal responsibility for some things in life. I often fall into this trap for a few days a month when my alarm rings early in the morning. Most weeks I am able to spring out of bed an hour and a half earlier than necessary to ride my bike to the gym and workout. However, some days the first thing I begin searching for is an excuse. ‘My legs are tired’ and ‘I’m need a few days off to avoid burnout’ are my go-to excuses to cop out of my responsibility to myself. In those moments I try to take stock of how much better I will feel about my day if I get to the gym, the goals I have set in regard to my physical fitness, and how falling back to sleep will really not benefit me in the long run. Most days that is enough to get me up and rolling.
We have to be accountable to ourselves because we are the ones affected. At the end of the day, you are responsible for you. The results you get will be your own, either positively or negatively, and realizing that the best way to achieve personal happiness is to highly value personal responsibility. When you take care of the small things asked of you each day by your goals, you eventually build to accomplish things you never dreamed possible.
Please check back in Wednesday for the weekly Words of Wisdom post, as well as for Finish Strong Friday! Until then, keep those engines revving and running.