“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi

Here is my own experience and exploration on personal responsibility, two words which are so simple, yet they represent one of the most profound ideas to start a change and improvement in our life. They are basis on which we can build our own success and fulfillment, because they are the very foundation of any possible change.

I can never forget that day when this all started to change. Waiting in between two flights at the airport, I got hold of a little book (1) which talked how we, as human being, get stuck in reality most of our life; complaining and blaming everyone and everything about it, and by doing so; we lose the opportunity to act, to change, to make it better.

I remember when I got back home that night how excited I was about this idea and the fact that by taking more responsibility, I can start to change my life for the better.  I went on and immersed myself in good materials from topics like personal development, leadership, psychology, metaphysics and religion to better understand this idea. I wanted to know when does self responsibility apply, where does this start and where does it end.

To my surprise, all these materials confirmed the same thing. We have to take full responsibility of our own life, because very simply if we don’t, no one else will! Then I came across one “equation” which explained the whole idea of personal responsibility (2). The equation was:

E + R= O

O is the Outcome which means the result we ended up with in any context. This could be depression or failure for example or joy and success in any area of our life.

E is the Events in our life. This could represent anything exterior to us. For example people like our boss, our employees, our colleagues, our friends, our partner. Or it could be, things that happened to us, like an accident, a challenge, our job, etc.

R is our Response. How do we respond to any stimulus outside us.  We could have a difficult boss but still rise up to the challenge of dealing with him or we could also just complain about him and blame him all the time for our miserable life or performance.

To put it another way: Everything outside us + Response we make to it = Our Life. This equation shows that whatever we get in our life is simple a function of what we do with what happen to us or anything outside our control not just these latter.  Our life is then, the sum of the choices we made to respond to everything that happened to us and everyone outside us. Thus if we complain, we simply give up our “R”. We Resign. We waste our unlimited capability to change; to improve; to get what we want in life.

Understanding that I don’t really need to take care of the events outside my control or influence, and that I just need to focus on what I can change, or influence to change, made me so excited and so self motivated. By just knowing that I CAN change, that I HAVE control , and that I CAN ACT ON instead of just being acted upon, I got so inspired.  This was the time I started experimenting applying this simple idea on my own life.

“Circumstances don’t make the man, they reveal him” James Allen

(To be continued in the next posts.)



(1)    Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

(2)    The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer