The Responsibility Process™

welcome I'm Christopher Avery from partner works many people agree that taking responsibility is the first principle of success but until now experts could not tell you how to take responsibility they only told you that you should be responsible some people believe that responsibility is a character trait something that some people have and others don't that assumption tells us that we should find the responsible people and avoid the irresponsible people over the past 25 years I've studied responsibility within individuals and organizations I've learned that taking responsibility and avoiding responsibility is all part of a fascinating mental process that can be observed taught and learned today I will share that responsibility process with you you will see that there are six predictable sequential mental states that keep us from taking responsibility this pattern operates identically in all of us the responsibility process explains how we get stuck and it offers us a way to move forward as you can see it's a very simple model it will not make complete sense to you today you will have many questions that's fine everyone does overtime you will come to understand the responsibility process very deeply and it will be your friend responsibility sits at the top of the list if we want to be successful we need to spend as much time as we can above the line operating from a mental state of responsibility this is where we are the clearest and most resourceful we feel unencumbered we feel self empowered when things are going well for us it's easy for us to take responsibility and credit however when things go wrong and they will go wrong we often lose the ability to act from this mental position of responsibility two things happen first we feel upset frustrated anxious because we have a problem second our mind starts a cause-effect search for answers as to how this happened to us this takes us well below the line into a series of non-responsive behaviors we waste a lot of energy coping with a mismatch between what we want and the problem we have in order to return to the responsibility mindset we need to first overcome these six non-responsive mental states we call them coping States let's quickly take a look at each one our first thought when we are upset is a thought of blame we call this mental state lay blame we tell ourselves that someone else is causing our problem laying blame is wired into all of us it's part of our DNA when we lay blame we give away our power how so well we're sure that someone else must change or take action for our problem to go away and before our lives will get better to get out of the mental state of blame we need to recognize that it is a powerless mental state regardless of who did what to whom and we need to refuse to operate from lay blame when we stop blaming then we land in a mental state called justify when we're in the state of justify we point again to external circumstances which are beyond our control as the cause of our problem if you listen closely you will hear the language of justify in many workplace conversations here are three examples it's the economy it's the way management is around here it's the culture when we operate from this mental state of justify we tell ourselves that something out there must change before things can get better for us when we refuse to justify our problem we actually reject the external causes for upset so what's left is to look inward that's right we beat ourselves up listen to the language of shame I should have known better I'm such a dummy I deserve these consequences when we're trapped in the mental state of shame we tell ourselves that we're not good enough we even tell ourselves that we lack something we would need to get the results we want society often tells us that shame is good we're owning up to our failings however shame is actually quite a trap it prevents us from the resourcefulness available to us when we are in the mental state of responsibility when we refuse to shame ourselves then we land in another mental state we call this obligation we all get caught in the obligation mindset we all have obligations and commitments in life and it's necessary to have commitments but the trap that I'm talking about occurs within our minds and it occurs when we have a commitment that we don't like or don't want I call it the mental state of have to don't want to when we're trapped in the obligation mindset we tell ourselves that we have no choice there's nothing we can do when we're in an obligation mindset we express frustration and a lack of ownership about our commitment sometimes we feel so much upset in frustration from the shame and obligation mindsets that we try to escape the problem entirely when we're in quit we tell ourselves that as long as we don't look at the problem it will stay away of course that's not true the problem remains and our upset will return again and again when we refuse to feel trapped by our commitments we can enter the mental state of responsibility when you operate from responsibility you know that you have the power and the ability to resolve the problem when you operate from this mental state of responsibility you address the real problem instead of coping with your feelings of upset and anxiety so what about denial denial is probably where you were before you realized you had a problem that's why it is below lay blame in denial you don't yet know that you have a problem because you are ignoring the existence of something now the path to mastery is not simple or easy it will be the hardest work that you ever do you will get stuck in the process of trying to get unstuck you will be practicing responsibility at many levels however responsibility provides a better more productive way to live and work my best to you

  1. We are trying to change things at work and this video does help think about all of the things happening and not fall victim to my own involvement/responsibility in the system/process.

  2. Hi Christopher. Since we met many, many years ago, I still think about and use your Responsibility model. I have been asked to be the facilitator of a network of Agile leaders in Denmark – and next week our meeting is about High Performing Teams – which made me think about you – triggered by "Teamwork is an Individual Skill".
    For our meeting on Wednesday, I am looking for a brief (5-8 minute) video explaining your Responsibility model – including the funny examples with the car keys, etc.
    Can you help me?
    Thanks in advance from your old friend Ole in Denmark.

  3. That was so succinctly and well said. This makes the whole process so clear. Thank you for posting this video.

  4. Powerful stuff, thank you very much for this. I will defiantly be finding out more about The Responsibility Process.

  5. I agree with Dr Avery – most people don't tell how – from what he says, it seems to be that knee jerk reactions will 'always' be irresponsible. I read the article at a very appropriate time – looking forward to some application of this very useful knowledge!

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