Have you ever met some people who seem to be natural problem-solvers? While others complain about problems, they seem to consider those problems as raw materials for building the edifice of their own significance. They will offer to fix a loose or broken faucet even if they have no clue how it got to be that way. They will clean a toilet they did not soil. Confident in their own skin, they are uncomfortable with an undesirable status quo and will do anything to fix a problem they feel very strongly about, not minding who caused it. Stephen Covey in his timeless classic THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, describes responsibility as response-ability. Summarized, it is the ability to take the initiative to respond to situations rather than wait for something to happen from an external source that now provokes a knee-jerk reaction from the individual. A responsible person is never fazed by circumstances because he doesn’t wait to be prompted before he seeks ways of solving the problems that others routinely ignore.
The world is in dire need of responsible people. People who can take responsibility are naturally ahead of the pack among their peers. Most people are comfortable with complaining about the myriad problems that bedevil the society. Responsible people listen to the complaints and use what they hear as their opportunity to make a critical difference. The capacity to solve problems or be the go-to person in a family, does not take rocket science. Anyone is capable of doing it. Unfortunately, far too many people are so preoccupied with problems to recognize that when problems do emerge, they carry in them the prospects for solution and subsequent reward. Such reward is however reserved for those who solve them, not those who identify, cause or analyze them. In life, you are remembered for one of two things, the problems you caused or the problems you solved! Responsible people are assets to any organization or family. People who never shy away from responsibility are hardly ever stranded on life’s journey. Life rewards such people very significantly.
How do you know if you are responsible? Why does it appear that our society is mostly populated by people with an entitlement mindset who throw tantrums when they feel deprived of whatever they feel that the society owes them? Where are those who will take responsibility for remedying the myriad problems in our society? What will characterize such people? We will proceed to examine the characteristics of responsible people through the acronym of the word R.E.S.P.O.N.S.I.B.L.E.
Reliability is a forte of responsible people. Trust is the thrust of reliability. A reliable person is one who can be trusted with the diligent execution of an assignment or the custody of a confidence. According to the Holy Bible in Proverbs 25:19, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth and a foot out of joint.” Elsewhere, the sage Solomon declared that even though most men will proclaim how good they are, faithful men are a rarity. Even a rogue seeks someone he can trust. Whenever we have issues of a sensitive nature to discuss or important tasks to carry out, we all look for a reliable person to unburden ourselves to or to commit such tasks to. Nobody enjoys being betrayed.
Have you met some people who face challenges with a smile? No matter what they are confronted with, they always have the calm assurance that there is always a way out of every challenge. While others in the same circumstance wear a frown, they wear a smile. People with a high sense of responsibility usually exude an infectious Enthusiasm. To them, the cup is always half-full. Their optimism about possibilities is usually a marvel to people around them.
Strategic thinking is another trait of responsible people. Their optimism about every circumstance enables them to think through every challenge. They have no problem accepting challenges as part of everyday realities. However, their focus is always on the way out of it. Ideas are the springboard of successful enterprise. They come through the process of thought. Problem-solvers are strategic thinkers. They recognize that every solution proffered to any problem is as good as the strategy that drives its application. Consequently, responsible people think on their feet about possibilities rather than limitations.
Responsible people are Proactive. While most people wait for things to happen and then react to it, responsible people are almost clairvoyant when it comes to anticipating waves before they hit. Highly successful people don’t become so by locking the door of the stable after the horses have escaped. They simply take the pains to lock the doors to forestall the possibility! Because they are constantly thinking from a futuristic perspective, they play out scenarios in their mind and can preempt situations and what their response to it would be. No establishment significantly rewards an employee for applying a solution after a problem has caused extensive damage. The significant reward goes to the one who is not only able to anticipate the problem but also comes up with a preemptive solution that minimizes or eliminates the possibility of significant damage to the establishment.
Order is the primary focus of responsibility. Responsible people have a vision of the ideal that grips them so much that they are not willing to settle for the alternative. They cannot bear being in a rut. They recognize that true growth is possible only in an atmosphere of order. Chaos makes a mess of the loftiest ideals. A few weeks ago, I was in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria on a speaking assignment. My hosts lodged me in a very comfortable hotel with an imposing structure and located in a choice part of town. After settling in my room, I decided to visit the rest room. As I turned the handle of the toilet door, I noticed that it was slack. A few screws holding the door together were loose. I also saw that the screws were not detached from the handle, meaning that all that was required was just to screw them back! But nobody, not even the housekeeping staff who were saddled with the responsibility of cleaning the room had thought of fixing those little, apparently insignificant screws, the loss of which could have damaged the lock and made the room unattractive to guests, or at the very least, negatively coloured their stay in the hotel. There was no screwdriver available. I could have called the hotel staff or manager and tongue-lashed them. I simply took the table knife that had been brought with my food and used it to securely fasten the screws back in place. Problem solved!… continued.
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!