I’ve been thinking a lot about responsibility lately and looking at places where I haven’t been ‘giving myself enough credit’, shall we say, and where I see a similar phenomenon in others.
There are times when it is infinitely preferable to point to others and explain why what happened was actually their responsibility… especially when to own it ourselves would be to admit we’re not perfect and perhaps leave ourselves feeling vulnerable.
3 Servants & A Tough Reminder
I was recently reminded of a story in the Bible that I used to really dislike. You can find it in Matthew 25: 14-30 (I like the NLT- New Living Translation. If you haven’t a Bible handy, google it and you’ll find it).
Basically it tells the story of 3 servants who’re given differing amounts of ‘talents’ (money) to take care of and put to work while their boss is away.
One gets 5 bags, another gets 2 and the third gets 1 bag. The passage says that they’re given them according to their ability. Which is really cool that the lesser ability ones are not given the pressure of amounts greater than they could handle.
But here’s the bit I want to fast forward to… whilst the first two servants doubled what they’d been given, the third one HID the money.
No awards for tact and diplomacy here, Mr Judgey-Judgerson…
And get this- when the boss comes back, that servant tells his boss that the boss is tough and gathers harvest off what he didn’t plant etc. (way to butter up your boss before you give him bad news!!) He then tells his boss that he was afraid and so he hid the money.
Funnily enough, the boss isn’t impressed with this and takes the bag off him, giving it to the servant you had rocked the 5 bags previously.
He did what now?!
‘Use it or lose it’ is certainly something we can take from this story. Yet what I want to pick up on is that 3rd servant.
Oh no he di’n’t… Oh but he did…
Here’s what the 3rd servant did:
- He blamed others for his mistakes (blaming his BOSS for being rich and scary)
- He actually did worse than trying and failing, because as the boss says, if he’d at least put the money in the bank, the boss would have got interest on it!
- He let fear of failure prevent him from even trying
- He judged the rich boss (you harvest what you don’t plant) instead of holding himself accountable and checking his own attitudes and motivations
Now I might be stretching here, but…
I also wonder if he failed because he saw those with more ability (and more talents) and he let comparison blind him to what he DID have so he didn’t even use the talent he had, let alone earn/grow more ability/talents.
Bottom line: whatever his reasoning, listening to his FEARS and FAILURE to take responsibility for his actions meant that he was INCAPABLE of success.
It WAS NOT his lack of ability that caused the failure, but his fear-driven mind, and the assumptions about himself that led him to conclude that failure would be the most likely outcome were he to try.
The TRUTH of what was possible is nowhere in the story. There’s NO good reason why he couldn’t have maximised his ability- or even surpassed what others had measured as possible.
NOWHERE did he go ‘pfft, I’ll show you…’ and set out to prove doubters wrong. Nowhere that he doubted his doubts.
He listened to his fears, he blamed others for his failures, and he left himself with nothing, because he had a chance to do better, and he chose to do nothing, under the guise of keeping himself safe from his boss’s wrath.
This is what mindset ‘gremlins’ do. They lie. They will warp your view of what’s possible, and, if left unchecked, they will convince you that you’re not even capable of what others see you are capable of.
Please please don’t give in to those gremlins. Question their scepticism, doubt those doubts. You have this one life and even if you’re scared, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it or shouldn’t try.
We’re ALL terrified at times when we’re leaving our comfort zone- that’s normal. FAR more scary though to listen to the gremlins and make your life smaller, always wondering ‘what if…?’
To fear failure, to fail to see where you are responsible to take control and DO something, and to waste what you have got because it’s not what others have… well that feels like a tragic way to fritter away a life.
I am working to take ever more responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions. It is really uncomfortable and my recovering perfectionist self feels SUPER vulnerable, and yet I want to grow, do better, use every ounce of ability I already have, and gain as much more as I can.
What about you?
Your thoughts are that: Yours. YOU decide what to think about. YOU decide which beliefs you want to hold onto and which aren’t serving you anymore.
It is YOUR right, privilege and responsibility to decide where you want to take your life from here, and I encourage you to quit looking for others to take responsibility, give up criticism (HINT: criticising is often an indication of where we’re not taking responsibility), and step up to take ownership of your life.
I’ve resolved to step up- let me know: will you join me??