Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act - consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others
Life is full of choices. Responsibility means being in charge of our choices and, thus, our lives. It means being accountable for what we do and who we are. It also means recognizing that what we do, and what we don’t do, matters and we are responsible for the consequences of our actions/decisions.
Responsibility makes demands on us. It imposes duties to ourselves and others to do what we must, not because we are being paid or because we will suffer if we don’t, but because our obligation to do so. The essence of responsibility is continuous awareness that our capacity to reason and our freedom to choose makes us autonomous and, therefore, answerable for how we use our autonomy and whether we honor or degrade the principles that give life meaning and purpose.
In one sense, the concept of responsibility is so broad that it embraces all the other pillars because a responsible person is responsible for being trustworthy, respectful, fair, caring, and a good citizen. But the term has its distinct qualities as well. Responsible people:
- Are accountable for the consequences of their actions and inactions, avoiding blaming and excuse-making.
- Govern their behavior according to a sense of duty impelling them to recognize and fulfill obligations.
- Exercise self-control, restraining powerful passions and appetites (such as love, hatred, anger, greed, and fear).
- Responsible people don’t use excuses like “that’s just the way I am” because they realize that they are whatever they choose to be.
- Demonstrate autonomy by making independent, intelligent, decisions based on a sense of right and wrong (conscience). People of responsibility decide for themselves what is right and wrong based on their conscience.
- Seek to be self-reliant and manage their affairs so as not to be a burden or drain on others; to the extent they can, they pay their own way, and provide for themselves.
- Pursue excellence in everything they do in recognition of the obligation to themselves and those who rely on them to do their best. There is always a shortage of resources or time, but a responsible people do the best they can with what they have, taking pride in whatever they do. People who are responsible pursue excellence because they know that everything they do is a demonstration of their competence and an expression of their character.