I listen to the radio as I drive to the university every day. Recently, I heard a new song called “We Are the People,” a collaboration between Bono and The Edge from U2 and Martin Garrix, a Dutch DJ. The chorus goes like this: “We are the people we’ve been waiting for. We’ll build it better than we did before. We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”
As with any U2 song, it rocks. The song is about global social issues, but it applies to life and career success as well. We all must be the people we’ve been waiting for when it comes to creating the life and career success we want—and deserve. None of us can wait for someone else to do it for us. Chapter 4 in my book, Climbing the Corporate Ladder, is entitled, “Take Personal Responsibility for Your Success.” Here is a brief summary of what I have to say in that chapter.
How Personal Responsibility Leads to Success
Stuff happens on your career journey: good stuff, bad stuff, frustrating stuff, unexpected stuff. Successful people respond positively to all of the stuff that happens. Humans are the only animals with free will. That means we—you and me—get to decide how we choose to react to every situation; recognizing and accepting that we are responsible for our success and the choices we make. While other people and events have an impact on our lives and careers, they don’t shape it. When you accept personal responsibility for your success, you own up to the fact that you choose how you will react to people and events.
The concept of personal responsibility can be found in most writing on success. Stephen Covey’s first habit in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Be proactive.” John Miller’s book QBQ: The Question Behind the Question asks readers to ask and answer the question, “What can I do to become a top performer?”
My hunch is that you know you need to take personal responsibility for your success, now you just need to put that knowledge to work. In my freshman year in college, I took a philosophy course in which we read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. One quote from that book stood out for me. “Knowing is not enough, we must do. Willing is not enough, we must apply.” In other words, we all need to take what we know and use it, or what we know isn’t very valuable. You need to use your knowledge to achieve your goals. Remember, when it comes to life and career success, you’re the person you’ve been waiting for.