In May 2018 I made the decision to start making my bed at the beginning of each morning. A menial, irrelevant task some may say. But a practise, which for me, represents much more.
At the same time I began following a clinical psychologist by the name of Jordan Peterson, and spent considerable time listening to his lectures on philosophy, psychology, and religion. Peterson argued that ‘bedroom preparation’ is an essential practise for those aspiring to bring about positive change to their life, and to the lives of others.
It represents an individual’s ability to take control and responsibility for their own life and basic necessities, before they look at imparting into the lives of others. He also went on to propose that taking responsibility, even over the smallest things, is one of the best ways through which individuals find direction, meaning, and purpose in life.
A Christian idea?
I found this point incredibly interesting, so I did some reading into the idea. I found that the concept of personal responsibility and accountability is a building block of Western civilisation and remains deeply rooted within the Judeo-Christian ethic. God gave us free will (what some might call the beginning of modern democratic ideals), and with that power, he lets us take responsibility for our path in life; choosing whether or not to heed his commands. It does not fall on our family, nor on our friends, but with us alone.
“For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10-12)
However, the notion of responsibility extends beyond our relationship with God to our careers, interactions, and ambitions. Peterson claimed that fathership was one such way in which responsibility benefitted his life, stating that the idea that another human was dependant on his love and care, gave a sense of satisfaction which surpassed materialistic pleasures.
The hard truth about responsibility…
It is important to note that responsibility is not always comfortable and flies directly in the face of an attitude of victimhood which tempts us into blaming others for our situations in life. This is a hard truth for many to swallow, as we know that life is inherently unfair, and some individuals are born into more difficult circumstances than others. However, Peterson argues that we must remain focussed on our own strengths and what we can control, and use that as leverage to move forward. It is only by taking this step, that we can truly strive to excel in whatever we do.
Not only this, but there are a plethora of other notable benefits to this carrying ourselves with an attitude of responsibility. These include:
Powerful leaders are willing to invest in those they feel are coachable. You’ll demonstrate this ‘coachability’ when you admit that you don’t know something, need to improve and are willing to listen and learn. When you take responsibility for your performance and admit that you can improve, then you open yourself up to teaching and support from others.
When people notice that you have taken personal responsibility, they will experience a positive feeling about you. That feeling is the beginning of trust because taking responsibility for a mistake or a poor result illustrates a degree of honesty that others truly respect. And, when those who may have contributed to the poor result realise that you will not betray them to save yourself, they will admire your dignity and courage.
Growth and personal development
People who take personal responsibility usually follow the statement, ‘I own this mistake’ with ‘and here’s what I could do differently next time.’ And, if you do not know what you can do differently initially, undertake research, ask those with more experience and evaluate other options to gain information, see another perspective or generate new ideas that lead to better performance and to your personal growth.
Contrary to popular belief, responsibility is not something we should avoid, but something we should cherish, knowing that it is an inherent part of our Christian growth.
David is a law & accounting student, elite athlete & business owner, from Brisbane, Australia.