A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of having dinner with my boss at his house. We talked about several things over dinner, including personal and work related issues. While I took many things away from this session, a fable he shared with me stood out and is still fresh in my mind till date.
A certain politician had just ran out favour with his people who were all clamouring for a change – for a new person in charge and all that. The old politician gracefully allowed them to pick a new kid on the block, who they felt could solve their problems. During his handover to this new guy, the old politician gave him 2 letters, instructing him to open them only when there was an uproar among the people, and he didn't have any idea how to fix. Each of the letters would guide him on what to do, at different times of crisis.
This new guy got into power and things started to work. The people loved and respected him. After the 1st 18 months, he ran into the first crisis. The same people that wanted him in now wanted him out! He tried all he knew to do but got no solution. He then remembered the 2 letters written by his predecessor. Off he ran to where he had kept them and brought out the 1st of the 2 letters. He opened it nervously, eager to know what was written in it. “Blame it all on me”, the 1st letter read. He was excited to get this hint. He then addressed the people and blamed all the current problems on his predecessor. He told the people how his predecessor “messed” up everything and how he had great plans to fix them. Interestingly enough, this seemed to pacify the people, and they let him be for a while. The 1st letter seemed to do the magic. He was very grateful.
Sooner than later though, he ran into a new set of crisis, and there was another uproar. The people were vehemently calling for his removal. He remembered the magic that the 1st letter did, and decided to seek help with the 2nd letter. He went to his safe and brought out the 2nd letter, hoping that the instructions therein would help him again. The 2nd letter read “Now, write your own 2 letters”.
The fable's morale is quite simple – you can only blame others for so long. If you do not take personal responsibility for your life and your future, failure is guaranteed. Responsibility is the price you have to pay for greatness. A man will undoubtedly be on his way to the top when he learns to take responsibility for his actions, or his inactions.
In my opinion, Africa is behind all other continents because we have not taken responsibility for our lives and our future. Haven’t you been around a man who continually blames his uncle for not getting a job? I once heard a 34 year old man complained bitterly about how wicked his uncle has been. Can you guess what his crime was? He didn’t pay for his wedding!Everything is someone else’s fault. Every problem is explained away with reasons about why they can’t affect the situation or the outcome.
You are totally responsible for your life. This is the foundational principle you must embrace if you plan for happiness and success in life and work. People who take complete responsibility for their lives experience joy and control of circumstances. They are better able to make choices because they understand that they are responsible for their choices. Indeed, even when events that are not under your control go awry, you can at least determine how you will react to the event. You can make an event a disaster or you can use it as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to cherish your faith, to hold loved ones close.
The most important aspect of taking responsibility for your life is to acknowledge that your life is your responsibility. No one can live your life for you. No matter how hard you try to blame others for the events of your life, each event is the result of choices you made and are making. Listen to the little voice in your head. And, observe yourself talking with coworkers, family members, and friends. Do you hear yourself taking responsibility or placing blame?
The “it’s not my fault” cry is heard everywhere. It perhaps originates in childhood when siblings get into a squabble and each proclaims, “It’s not my fault!” When we see an altercation on an athletic field, the athletes generally point the finger of blame at someone else. We see it in the court of law. The Menendez brothers explained that because their parents treated them brutally, the “had” to kill them. Thieves say, “It’s not my fault- I couldn’t get a job.” The list is endless.
The truth is that there will always be something or someone to blame if you look hard enough. Always. The first man that God made, Adam saw something to blame for his mistakes. He passed the buck to his wife, Eve. And guess what? Eve passed it down to the serpent. I am sure if the serpent had a choice, the blame would have been passed to someone or something else. Too bad there was nowhere else to pass it.
My challenge to you today is this – take responsibility for your life. It's the price you have to pay for greatness.
I will give the same advice to the ruling party in Nigeria now (APC). Take responsibility for the nation, or get ready to write your own letters too.
Have a splendid weekend folks.