Responsibility: #3 of 28 Big Ideas from the World of Coaching

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

Choose your responsibilities. Responsibilities as a big idea from the world of coaching.

This article is fourth in a multi-part series that adapts and excerpts my entire book, The Coach Within: 28 Big Ideas for Engaging the Power of Your Own Wisdom, Creativity, and Choices* (Everything Goes Media, 2017).


3. Responsibility

“Freedom is choosing responsibility. It’s not having no responsibilities; it’s choosing the ones you want.”

— Toni Morrison

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

— Denis Waitley

Another crucial concept for coaching oneself, close on the heels of creativity, is responsibility. And in this regard, coaching yourself is not all that different from having a coach. Because one thing a coach is not is responsible for your success. A coach doesn’t do your work, determine your path, or do half of the heavy lifting. It’s all you.

What!? That’s right. A coach’s commitment to you is their whole attention, presence, interest, curiosity, and support. They validate, challenge, and — maybe the best one — believe in you. A coach believes in your wisdom, your wholeness, and your greatness, and reflects that to you even when you’re not so sure of it yourself. That makes them a powerful ally in accomplishing your agenda. But not responsible for it.

That is all you.

No one is coming. You may have heard that one? No rescuer, no savior, no one else with the answers, fixes, secret playbook. It’s up to you to succeed as you define it. To chart the course, live fully, right your wrongs, find peace, be happy…

You may resist it initially, or frequently, or from time to time, but when you shift into acknowledgment of the idea, and then acceptance of responsibility, and then commitment to the idea that so much is in your hands, things change and your life starts becoming more and more your own.

There is so much upside to this realization. Really. Empowerment. Satisfaction. Freedom. Dreams coming true.

If there were a secret playbook for responsibility, it might contain this: Start small, start anywhere, and keep going. Make things happen for yourself. The opportunities will arise in every corner for you to own your choices and take actions for which you are accountable. And you will be glad and grateful for what ensues.

[Note: If you want to heighten your own adventures in responsibility, there is no better book than this one by psychologist Nathaniel Branden: Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life.]


Your Coaching To-Do’s

⎕ Spend meditation or walking time today assessing the degree of responsibility you take for your own life — in general and in particular aspects of it. Notice where you tend to blame people or circumstances, what makes you feel victimized. How can you shift to an attitude of inspired responsibility for those things you can change?

⎕ In your journal, make a note of some places in your life where you have been avoiding taking responsibility, along with some possible steps you can take in each area that could start turning that around. Where will you start? Can you pledge some sweat equity to the concept? How big are you thinking? How responsible can you be?

⎕ Practice: Do something today. Choose any situation to demonstrate your new habit of responsibility and observe yourself doing so. Why not start with the one you turn away from most (where’s the shudder, the embarrassment, the cringe?). Take a baby step if that’s the most you can muster…or is it? What did you notice that can keep you on the path to reaping the cumulative rewards of taking responsibility?

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