The Power of Response-ability

“Response-ability” is part of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits.  I recently read about this in his classic powerful book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I know, not a new book, but something you can read over and over and still be inspired, especially when you’re feeling rudderless or at sea, lacking in clarity. Or, maybe you want to figure out how to deal with that annoying colleague or demanding boss.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan /

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan /

Covey writes how developing response-ability is a powerful tool because it allows us to take control of our lives and focus on what we can change versus blaming others for our lack of success or circumstances: parents, a tough boss, tough economy, etc. It redirects wayward or negative energy born of frustration or anger and channels it toward making a change in ourselves, that winds up changing what comes into our lives.

I know heady stuff BUT – if you focus on the first habit, Be Proactive, you can actually start looking at how to change yourself by ‘being’ more disciplined, or, resourceful, etc. I love this habit and Habit #2, Think with the End in Mind, because they are about visualizing how you want your life to be – in vivid color – actually seeing it, and then figuring out what or who you need to be to get there.

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For example, you might want to raise your kids to be independent and happy, that might be your goal. But, are your daily actions or responses to stress moving you toward that goal or away from it?  Or, you might want a promotion but you feel as if the stars are aligning against you or the boss doesn’t like you.  You can’t control your boss but you can show up differently at work. You can be more resourceful, be creative, be communicative. When you show up differently, people start to notice.

Needless to say this is very high-level to what Covey writes. Actually, he really gets into the weeds, in a good way, on how to create your own vision statement or blueprint of the values that will help propel you toward your goals of where you want to lead your life. Experiences, situations… life comes at us fast. It’s not bad to spend the time thinking where we want to go so we know how to respond. The alternative is finding out you’ve spent your precious time and life “leaning up against the wrong wall,” Covey writes.

Not a tough choice.


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