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The Buck Stops
- but what does it mean?
The money doesn't
get beyond me?
I'm the one set up for kicking?
It's the end of the line for the male bunny rabbit?
Or perhaps, accountability
by taking personal responsibility. That means there's nowhere to run,
nowhere to hide, I'm the one who has to fix it, but it also means the
rewards are mine too!
In life there are
many occasions where it is easy to pass on the problem for someone else
to fix - perhaps you don't get paid enough to fix the problems or someone
higher up the chain gives the orders. But, what about your life in general
- when you are in deep do-dah, is your first reaction to look for someone
else to fix it, or do you start digging your way out? Do you stand there
wailing and screaming, looking for someone to blame or do you use whatever
resources you have to find a solution?
In Australia, as
in many of the wealthier societies, there are plenty of safety nets
throughout our life, whether this is money if you don't have a job,
healthcare for the sick, emergency services, legal aid or caring parents.
We are blessed as we grow, knowing that there is someone there to help
us if we fall, to pick us up and patch us up, give a hand out or fix
our problems. Our parents provide us with the nurture and care to help
us feel secure and reach our fullest potential. They encourage us to
get up from crawling on our hands and knees, but what practice do we
really get at standing on our own two feet. If we aren't naturally inclined
towards independence do we tend to lean on others for support rather
than "do it all ourselves"?
It is only when
we put ourselves outside the safety zone in some way that we really
get to understand what "personal responsibility" means. Both
in costs as well as rewards.
For some this may
be setting off to explore the world and entering a hostile environment.
If you live in a city and your car breaks down - you could just call
up a breakdown service on your mobile phone or thumb a lift. Call a
mate, call your folks, stand demurely by the open bonnet looking helpless
- there are plenty of options and one of them is sure to get you home.
But if you set off into the Australian outback, your phone probably
won't work, there is no breakdown service, there isn't likely to be
any passing traffic - so if your car won't go, you most likely have
a choice of getting yourself out or dying! Wailing about the car or
the lack of phone service, won't keep you alive, but the tank of water
you thought to pack or the emergency beacon might. With an attitude
that expects someone else to fix things when they're broken, there usually
goes an assumption that there will always be someone else there to turn
to. But what if there isn't?
My most defining
moment in personal responsibility was my first solo flight. I may have
been trained and had satisfied the instructor that I could do it, but
it wasn't until I was the only one in the plane at a thousand feet that
it really hit me - "Oh sh..t, oh sh..t, oh sh..t, I'm on my own!!!!".
It was entirely up to me whether I got down on the ground in one piece
or as a squidgy mess. My life was literally in my own hands. I couldn't
just get out and do something else - other than free fall parachuting.
Well, no, I couldn't even do that because they don't give you parachutes!
I couldn't phone home and say "Mum, Dad, come and get me!",
so I just had to put the lid on the panic and rely on myself.
Why did I do it?
Yes, that is the question that I was asking myself at that moment. Well,
the sense of achievement, not to mention the adrenaline rush from that
particular incident, far outweighs any virtual reality experience from
video games or reality TV. Living my own life is far more fun than watching
someone else's. It was my experience, my reward, my consequences - I
My point is that
it is really easy, when we live in a society that generally takes care
of us, to just expect it to always be there. To lean on it without question,
to crawl when we could walk tall, to settle for a limited horizon, when
we could enjoy a better view. While most people look on the safety net
as just that - something to catch you if you really come unstuck, there
is a growing expectation of living a life totally within the
safety net. Of remaining in a child like unawareness from personal responsibility
and of experiencing life through a virtual reality.
I'm not advocating
that we all take up extreme sports or measure ourselves with endurance
tests, but maybe it's time to look at our lives in the context of the
society we live in and re-evaluate.
Do you expect someone
to pay you a wage/the dole or do you expect to earn it?
Do you entertain
yourself or expect someone or something to entertain you?
Do you expect someone
else to save your life, if you take an overdose of "recreational"
Do you expect your
spouse to pick you up because you're too drunk to get yourself home?
Do you expect your
parents to pay your bills, because you don't have any money?
Do you blame someone
else, if your life is not going how you'd like it?
Is life something
you live or just read about on getalife.com?
DO YOU TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS,
OR LEAVE THE
CONSEQUENCES FOR SOMEONE ELSE?
Hargreaves 7th April 2004)
The Buck Stops Here - Hark.net.au