Posted by: Edward | November 12, 2015

The Power of Responsibility

One of the greatest and most horrible adult realizations is that no one is going to do it for you. If you want something to happen, you are going to have to work for it. And even then you might not succeed.

This is one of the core thoughts behind responsibility. Your parents are not going to do it for you, even if you are lucky enough that they are still alive. Santa Claus isn’t real. God seems to be pretty selective about what prayers he answers. So if you want something, you are going to have to figure out how to get it and put in the work.

This isn’t to say no one will help you. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. You can’t just count on or expect that help. And you actually need to ask for it. Asking for help is a form of taking responsibility. You’ve identified what you want, you’ve figured out one way to achieve it, and you are actively doing something to help it happen. And if you are actively working towards something, a lot of people become more willing to help you.

One of the hardships of this realization is that it requires you to forge a new relationship with failure. When you take responsibility for what you want, you are going to need to do things you’ve never done before and this means you will experience failure. But this hardship is a power as well. Trying and failing is how we learn to do better. Our ability to fail and learn from it is one of humanity’s greatest strengths.

I’ve talked so far about taking responsibility for what you want and I want to clarify that this doesn’t have to be a purely selfish thing. I don’t know about you but I want things for others. I want people I care about to be happy and healthy. I want the world to move in directions that I think are better. Taking responsibility means taking action. Do something to help someone you care about. Do something to contribute to a cause you believe in. You’ll be glad you did. But be sure to temper this contribution with the awareness that your time and energy are limited.

Spider-man has a slogan, with great power comes great responsibility. It is a reminder for him to use his powers for good. And it’s an important thing to remember. But I think the opposite is also true. With great responsibility comes great power. The more you can allow yourself to be responsible for, the more of your cares that you can embody in concrete action, the greater your effect on the world… the greater your power.

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