How to have courage to be decisive and take personal responsibility
Having the courage to be decisive in the context of resilience really means the ability to effectively narrow a myriad of options and make the difficult decision to take action in the wake of adversity or in the face of extraordinary challenges.
For many, taking decisive action and then accepting personal responsibility for decisions are self-evident virtues. What might not be self-evident is why. Decisive action appears to be capable of (1) mitigating adversity, (2) helping you rebound from adversity and (3) promoting growth in the wake of adversity.
Decisiveness Mitigates Adversity. Think about your own life. Have you ever wasted valuable time, money or energy because you were unsure what to do? Have you ever waited so long trying to make a decision that the opportunity itself was lost? So how does decisiveness
help you? Those who are first to act most often reap the rewards that life has to offer. The saying “The early bird catches the worm” refers not only to early risers but also to those who are first to act. Opportunities in life seem to benefit those who act upon them more than those who merely recognize them.
In business, being decisive often leads to creating trends rather than following them. A visionary trendsetter, Steve Jobs was once referred to as the “Father of the Digital
Revolution.” Jobs, who co-founded Apple Computer Inc. with Steve Wozniak in 1976, shaped the fields of computing, personal-communications devices, music and modern movie-making. But his greatest strength was his ability to make a decision and follow it through to fruition.
His ability to understand future markets, think beyond current limitations, create nontraditional business models,assemble a team of technical experts and guide (some would say push) the company to creative excellence is what really made Apple (and almost everything else that
Jobs touched) successful, according to Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson. At a Macworld conference, Jobs once said, “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning. And we always will.”
Decisiveness Helps You Rebound from Adversity. Depression and feelings of hopelessness often follow in the wake of hardship. Psychologists have long known that if these feelings are allowed to persist, they can become paralyzing forces that dramatically reduce the
likelihood of resilience.
Conversely, acting quickly and decisively has been shown to be of benefit in reducing stress and empowering people to rebound from adversity. The most powerful way of helping yourself in the wake of adversity appears to be resisting the pressures of psychological avoidance and paralysis by doing something to help yourself or others. Take action. Gain strength by identifying and actively pursuing a goal. Taking that first step is empowering and tends to
result in other successes. To borrow from the principles of physics, an object in motion tends to remain in motion, and an object at rest tends to remain at rest.
Decisiveness Promotes Growth in the Wake of Adversity. In the process of bouncing back from adversity, you can not only completely recover, but you can become stronger and happier than you were before the adversity ever occurred. Steve Jobs’ success didn’t come easily, despite the great immunity to pressure he demonstrated early in his career. In 1985, Jobs was forced to
resign from the company he and Wozniak had founded.
In a Stanford University commencement address in 2005, Jobs recalled that getting “fired” was one of the best things that ever happened to him. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything,” he said. “It
freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Jobs went on to say he was “pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.” After leaving Apple, Jobs went on to pioneer in arenas previously untouched by Apple, including digital movies.
Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Actions Empowers You. At this point you can see there is a resiliency advantage that accrues from decisive action. The next step is to take
responsibility for your actions.Taking personal responsibility requires courage, perhaps
more courage than being decisive. After all, most of us believe that mistakes are who we are rather than what we did. We’re quick to seek other people or things to blame should the outcome of a decision not be as desirable as hoped. In doing so, we abdicate responsibility for failure and forfeit the potential benefit to be gained from rebirth. Only by taking responsibility for our actions can we then learn to take credit for our successes.
Taking responsibility for your actions aids in gaining empowerment. Your resiliency advantage accrues not only from the fruits of opportunities pursued and the empowerment of success in the wake of adversity, but from the fact that many people will view your decisiveness before,
during or after adversity as evidence of courage, strength and desirability that extends to your entire persona.
Taking responsibility for your actions will be interpreted as evidence of honesty and trustworthiness. Consequently, you’ll often be given opportunities that others will be
denied. And since your failures will be seen as uncharacteristic exceptions to the rule, you’ll likely be given greater leniency in the wake of failure and more chances to succeed.