As a facilitator and coach in our Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP), I have the privilege of working closely with high-potential program participants to transform their mindsets and behaviors so they can make a leap forward in their influence of others. It’s inspiring to watch these leaders make small shifts and adjustments in their thinking and approach that pay big dividends in the work they produce, their relationships, their career progression, and their ability to lead teams.

Today I’d like to share about one of the fundamental concepts and ways of thinking we teach all leaders, at all stages. When applied, this distinction transforms work and personal lives. It’s simple and incredibly powerful, yet it takes a real effort to apply and live by. But the positive effects make it more than worthwhile.

I am 100% responsible for the outcomes in my life and work.

Breaking that down further, I’m responsible for the success of my work product, my engagements, my client relationships, my relationships with my colleagues, the success of the special initiatives I may be leading, the progress of my coachees, the way I feel, my reaction to others…and more.  

This thinking can – and must – also be applied at home. I’m 100% responsible for my relationships with my family members or roommates. If I have disappointments about where things stand at home, I’m 100% responsible for the situation.

It’s a confronting idea, isn’t it? Most of us want to be somewhere between 0% and 50% max in terms of “fault” or responsibility. But, before you turn away from the idea of being 100% responsible, look at the contrast between 100%-responsible thinking and less-than-100%-responsible thinking.

Notice that the thoughts on the left are helpless and hopeless. That person is stopped in their tracks, feeling unable to affect a better outcome in the situation. And, the less-than-100%-responsible thoughts blame others, creating bitterness, upset, or other negative feelings that aren’t going to allow that leader to inspire or influence others positively.

In contrast, the thinker on the right sees an action path. There are things they can try or do that might improve the situation. The 100% responsible thinker feels empowered, and that power and strength comes from being willing to look at what they could change or do differently. The hard part is often seeing how you can change, or that you should change when something isn’t working. It’s easier to pin the responsibility and the need to change on others. But easy doesn’t equal power. Change your thinking and shift your view, and a new path forward will emerge.

There are other parties involved in these various scenarios, and ideally, they would also operate from 100% responsibility, looking at what they could do differently to make the situation better. As you practice your own 100% responsibility, talk to others about what you’re learning. When you teach others, you give them the power to affect outcomes, too. And you’re taking steps to create a 100%-responsible team around you.

As we enter this bright new year, I hope you’ll shift to 100%-responsible thinking. Find your power to change every situation. That power lives inside of you!