Taking Responsibility

There are times when it feels easier to shift responsibility away from yourself. It is easy to take the credit when things are going well, but spreading the blame when things don't go as planned can be such an easy thing to do. I am writing this for one main reason. To give myself a kick up the backside, since I noticed myself not taking responsibility.

First I'll get into where I come from on this topic. I strongly believe that the increasing lack of personal responsibility is a blight on our society. There are many people who always have an excuse, it is always someone else's fault. There are many examples. As a paramedic I get to deal with this style of thinking often. From the lady who drives her car through a stop sign causing a crash resulting in significant injuries to other people who stated, "It wasn't my fault, the other car must have been going too fast." To the teenager, too young to hold a license who claimed he "wasn't doing anything stupid." Well, except for driving without a license, driving too fast, crashing the car into a power pole, tree and fence, then running away from the scene. To further illustrate, there is the story about a man who was standing in less than knee deep water at the beach. He decided to dive head first into the water and suffered a spinal injury as a result. He tried to sue the local council because they hadn't put up a sign telling him not to do it.

The above examples are extreme, so I will bring it down a notch or two. We recently had some blinds installed throughout the house. Unfortunately there were a number of issues which included the delivery date being nearly 3 months late, the measurements were incorrect, the repairer didn't show up to fix them, after they were eventually "fixed" we discovered more problems and again the repairer didn't turn up as planned. I understand things happen, like staff members call in sick and there are things out of people's control. But, and there is a big but here. When I call up to organise these problems to be fixed, I am far from happy when the so-called Customer Service Manager repeatedly says it's not her fault instead of doing what her job title implies. Each person I spoke to from this company passed the blame onto a different person, instead of working to sort it out. This is something I find common with the larger companies. I believe outsourcing their customer service department or call centres is an organised example of not taking responsibility.

Part of my philosophy on life is that what you do each day is who you are. The little things add up, and while people may remember a few large gestures, they get to know you by your everyday actions. It is no good talking things up if you can't back it up with action. If you can't live up to your own ideals on the small tasks, how can expect to do it with the big things. As a result when I notice myself not doing the little things, I believe it can only lead to problems with the important aspects of my life.

So what happened and how does this relate to training? Firstly if you read the sub-title of my blog you will see it about my attempt to balance life, family, work and Ironman. Without balance, in the long run they all suffer. What happened the other day may not seem important in the whole scheme of life. It was simply that I missed a key training session. The planned day was 6 hours of swimming, cycling and running as a relatively low intensity race simulation. On the day I spent one hour in the pool only.

Yes missing such a big day was disappointing, but that isn't the real issue. I had a number of reasons for missing it. These included fatigue from training, working two 14 hour night shifts followed by an extra day shift in the days leading up. Getting much less sleep than required. Having to wait around for the blind repairer to not turn up. Having other household chores to do. All reasons or excuses. In fact, due to the amount of fatigue it was probably best I give the long day a miss. The problem is I did not make a decision to do this. I simply procrastinated and blamed everything else. As result I continued through to the end of the day without doing the training required. If I am to miss this kind of training, then I need to actively make a decision to skip it.

The missed training is only a symptom of the problem. The problem is I haven't been taking responsibility for the little things. These things included ensuring I arrange my sleep properly for shift work. Doing the household chores when they should be done instead of waiting until they really, really have to be done (my wife will be very happy if I do this one). I kept putting off the training and blaming the blind company, when in reality I could have put the bike on the stationary trainer.

Committing to Ironman can be a good exercise in self development, but you have to take responsibility. Otherwise you will lose balance.


  1. wow---you really hit the nail on the head with this post. My husband recently asked how my injury happened. After thinking for a minute, I said, "I did it. I made bad decisions." People seem to miss the fact that taking responsbility is also liberating. It means we also have the power to fix the problem or adjust.

  2. I guess it comes down to taking responsibility for being highly organised. Against this is a natural inclination not to have every minute of the day mapped out in advance. Is there a simple answer?

    I can relate to the sleep issue, working long shifts with early starts this time of the year. The training does suffer, but as long as it's only a temporary situation...

  3. Possibly you are being a tad hard on yourself though, I think it is amazing that you manage to fit in so much training and you are an inspiration.

    I have never read an excuse from you, ever and your examples really put your own efforts into perspective.

  4. Funny I was thinking about posting something along these lines on my blog this weekend. But I think you really hit the nail on the head. When we finally "get" that everything begins and ends with us and the choices we make, both our lives and the world in which we live become better. Thanks for the wisdom.

    Train well...

  5. Great post - your strong point got me thinking about my own "excuses" and the need to take responsibility. Some of your examples are so obvious - we can all agree about the blind company & the guy who dove into shallow water. It is definitely the little decisions that are so subtle and nearly unnoticeable to others but manage to chip away at our own life and happiness.
    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Great post.

    It seems to me, at least, that so many of the little things that we ignore or procrastinate about come back to bite us on the bum simply because we are focusing on the larger things...it's all about sweating the small stuff and the big stuff!


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