Ricardo Semler is a Brazilian business man whose claim to fame is that he challenges conventional wisdom on how to live your life and run a businesses (TED Talk). He asks simple questions like, if it is OK to check your work e-mails during weekends, why it isn’t OK to go to the movies on Tuesday during the day? Another question he poses is, why wait until you get news about a terminal illness to do all the things you want to do? His point to these questions, of course, is that most people allow their work / career dictate their life decisions rather than the other way around. Why is that and what can be done about it?
The WHY most likely has something to do with societal behaviors and expectations, which basically states that this is how it has always been done and, therefore the rules reflect just that. But who sets the rules? Typically it is the people in power, who are in the minority and many would argue benefit most from such a system. But if success and true happiness is the intent, maybe there is another way.
This is where the WHAT comes in and many of Semler’s supposedly maverick ideas take root. One of his theories is that we need to understand the WHY at a deeper level to truly take on the WHAT. Because it is a this point that we truly come to terms with what our Personal Responsibility is relative to ourselves, our families, our employers, our community and everybody else we interact with. If each of were to take personal responsibility for how we think, feel and act, then there would be less need for controls and, not alone would the workplace be more productive, but society would be safer.
Please don’t think about the extremist relative to this, but the vast majority of ordinary people who go about their lives in a caring way – it’s probably 90%+ of the population. Think about how many people break the law (< 10%?), or how many people don’t wish to do their best at work (< 10%?) or how many kids don’t want to learn (< 10%)? Yet we put in all these controls in place that basically says that all people are the same.
The solution lies not with those in power, it can only happen one person at a time. And so it starts with YOU! What are you doing to accept personal responsibility? Here are some suggested steps you can take:
- Respect everybody
- Be grateful for whatever you have
- Do your best every day
- Cherish your friends and family
- Help others wherever you can
You may not be able to change the world, but by taking personal responsibility it could make you, your family, your community and your workplace better.