[January 14, 2019] About two decades ago, psychologists hit upon a discovery that stopped them in their tracks. They had proposed that the more responsibility people possess, the more stress they have and thus less satisfaction in their life. It turns out, counterintuitive to their way of thinking, that the tough job of shouldering responsibility is directly related to “improved” life satisfaction.
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins, American life coach
Leaders have known this since humans developed social structures to improve their meager existence. Whether it’s a family, team, company, church, or community, the ability of a few folks to take on the duty to help others, has been the core attribute of successful leadership.
I’m fond of writing in my leadership blog that the best leaders have two, intertwined responsibilities. They must be capable of accomplishing their mission (e.g., task, obligation) and taking care of those around them (e.g., family, business). Everything else is just chaff to be blown in the winds of our efforts.
In 2003, as my Engineer unit prepared for its deployment to combat in central Iraq, we all were concerned about how we would perform. Would we run away and be labeled cowards? Would we disgrace our teammates by failing to do our jobs or take care of our men? Chaplain Bishop, a great man in all respects, gave us his wisdom. He said that if we were to concentrate our ability to be good moral men and responsible for our soldiers, everything else would work out and we would achieve something great.
There can be no doubt that responsibility comes with its share of stress; even the most inexperienced leader knows this and is frightened often by the unknown. But, with courage and strong values, any leader will be capable of remaining focused on the tasks at hand. Shouldering responsibility becomes second nature to those willing to hold onto it; driving great satisfaction and personal growth from it.
Since that time, I remembered Chaplain Bishop and our many conversations on morality, bravery on the battlefield, patriotism, and shooting straight. Stay on the righteous path and nothing can keep you from your appointed rounds. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote long ago that he “who has a ‘why’ to live can bear almost any ‘how.’”