So much of life is out of our control. We have no control over when or where we were born, who our parents are, our genetics, other people, or what happens to us.
We do have control over what we do with our lives, how we respond to situations, and our perspective. We have a choice. We can choose to accept personal responsibility in our lives and for our lives.
With great responsibility comes great power.
Should you choose to accept responsibility for yourself, the world opens up to you. Once you do it, the ability to create the future you desire becomes yours.
We wanted to share our favorite personal responsibility quotes and talk abou how to apply them in your life.
Before we do that, a word of caution; there are those who would make and keep you a victim for the rest of your life.
Failure to accept personal responsibility in your life can have the opposite effect of what I’ve just described. It can prevent you from creating the future you want. It can make and keep you a victim.
Giving someone or something else responsibility for your life gives away your agency.
If the life you want is one in which you blame everyone and everything other than yourself for your circumstances, don’t read any further.
If you want the opposite, if you believe you have the ability to improve your situation and the world around you, continue reading.
We’ve selected 12 quotes from some of the most important humans who’ve ever lived.
We’ll talk about the wisdom behind their thinking and share some ideas on how you can apply it in your life.
Finally, we’ll share some practical advice on how you can increase personal responsibility in your life and your community.
Our first two quotes come from an American Professor and an English Playwright
“If you own this story you get to write the ending.” -Brené Brown
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” -William Shakespeare
From his poem Invictus, William Ernest Henley wrote “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” and these two quotes encapsulate that perfectly.
When we come to the recognition we can accept ownership in our lives and that choice is ours to make, our lives are forever changed.
It’s easy to look around and see all the reasons you won’t succeed. To feel the odds are stacked too high, that there are powerful forces working against you.
The key is to recognize the deck may be stacked against you, that there may be forces working against you, and that your success will be against the odds; and to pursue your success anyway.
Accepting personal responsibility allows you to choose your own adventures and to craft your own story with the ending you want.
Our next two come from a Chinese Philosopher and a United States President
“Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.” -Confucius
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” -Theodore Roosevelt
When you accept personal responsibility, you’re accepting the reality that you’re fallible and will make mistakes. You’re accepting that we all have issues and problems we struggle with, and that we take responsibility for them.
A big part of this is recognizing the need to get our own houses in order before we go out and try to change others.
Our next two come from an American Political Figure and an Indian Lawyer
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.” -Mahatma Gandhi
It’s common to look to place blame on others when things don’t go our way. But that’s not a winning formula.
A better practice is to take a deep breath and to step back from the situation in order to assess what went wrong and what we could have done better. Reflecting on what went wrong can also help us determine what we will do differently in the future.
It’s not easy to accept responsibility when things don’t go our way, but it’s integral for personal responsibility.
Our next two come from a German Diarist and and a British Author
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” -Anne Frank
“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.” -J.K. Rowling
A lot of who we are was given to us through our genetics. More still given to us by our parents in our early years. And we’ve certainly picked up a lot of good and bad stuff along the way.
Personal responsibility is accepting those experiences for what they are and committing to doing any work necessary to move forward in a positive manner.
Whether you think you had the best or the worst parents, you’re faced with the choice to move forward towards the life you want.
Our next two come from a Canadian Author and an American Scientist
“You have to believe that you are the one who creates your success, that you are the one who creates your mediocrity, and that you are the one creating your struggle around money and success.” -T. Harv Eker
“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” – Steve Maraboli
We live in a world where victimhood is celebrated and rewarded. It’s tempting, but short-sighted, to fall into the trap of embracing one’s victimhood. When we argue for our limitations, we give away our agency.
There’s little doubt you’ve been a victim at some point in your life. How long will you remain one and will you let victimhood define you? Taking personal responsibility means embracing negative experiences as teachers and moving past them towards the lives we truly want.
Our final two come from an American Writer and a United States President
“Blessed is the person who sees the need, recognizes the responsibility, and actively becomes the answer.” -William Arthur Ward
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” -Abraham Lincoln
Leaders see the world as it could be, and actively work to make it so.
Knowing and doing the “hard things” is a sure sign of personal responsibility.
Being personally responsible means being a leader in your own life. Being a leader in the lives of the ones you care for and your community can often mean doing hard and uncomforagble things especially when you don’t feel like doing them.
Being personally responsible means asking “If I don’t do it, who will?”
We decided to share this bonus quote from Ayn Rand:
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
Perspective can be a superpower.
For those who embrace personal responsibility, how you look at a situation makes all the difference.
If you see opportunity everywhere you look, you’ll continuously grow and create.
Get a sense of where you are in the course of history and time.
Where do you see opportunity? Are you in a position to capitalize on it? Is there anyone who can stop you from pursuing and achieving it?
Take responsibility for your attention and your thinking.
Learn to think critically and be a good steward of what you give your attention to.
Get clear on your goals and values.
Know who you are. Know what you stand for and what you stand against. Share this with the world. Say “I know the way and I’ll lead.”
The first step in accepting personal responsibility is doing exactly that; recognizing you have the choice to do so and doing it. There’s never been a more important time in your life to to do this than right now. Your loved ones, your community and the world need you to do it.
If you’d like support in your journey, you can access our Goals Course and our Values Course at no cost.
You can also connect with a coach for a no-cost conversation to further support your efforts.
Good luck, let us know how we can better support you!
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