One of the responses we are seeing to the global pandemic, from where I sit, is an increasing tendency for a higher authority, eg “the government”, to be expected to take responsibility for the circumstances people find themselves in.
Is that how it should be?
Don’t get me wrong. I totally respect that there are situations where, as a society, there are pockets of people who for whatever genuine reason need some assistance from the state.
What worries me is the apparently increased tendency for the reaction to tough times to be to expect “someone else” to take care of it - be that by way of subsidy, free programme, funded assistance, creation of a givealittle page - the list goes on.
In a recent study on happiness, published in Psychological Science, Alyssa Croft of the University of British Columbia and her colleagues surveyed 15,000 adults. They found that the happiest people on earth are those of us who have had challenges and have overcome them. “People who have overcome more adversity in the past are better at savouring life’s small pleasures,” write the authors, “which in turn could promote greater life satisfaction.”
Overcoming obstacles can actually be a way to be happier!
At the risk of simplifying it let me use the NZ Black Caps cricket team as an example.
Following a 2 year global tournament the Black Caps travelled to England earlier this month to play India at Southhampton in the inaugural World Test Cricket final. Say what you will about the structure of the tournament, the rules were the same for everyone. NZ and India played their way, over two years, into the final.
A nation of 5 million, for whom cricket is part of what we do, took on a nation over over 1 billion, for whom cricket borders on being a religion, and won!
Sport like this offers up many analogies.
With “ taking responsibility” in mind, in this instance I think it demonstrates magnificently how NZ Cricket as an entity and the players themselves embraced adversity, overcame it and won.
From a dismal test innings in South Africa in January of 2013 where the Black Caps were dismissed for a total of 45 runs they have taken responsibility for their performance, re-built and have now reaped a rich reward for their effort.
In one of the other global cricket tournaments, the One Day International format of the game, New Zealand reached the final in 2015, were outplayed by Australia and lost. Four years later in 2019 they reached the final against England and in a super over after the scores were tied at the end of the game they lost in what can only be described as a heartbreaking defeat.
Many of the players in the side that won last month we there in 2013, 2015 and 2019.
Over time they took responsibility - and they won.
There is also a deeper view of that scenario too. In a Team game, or for that matter a business Team, the efforts of everyone combine for the Team’s performance. In that sense there is a “shared” responsibility.
Within “shared” responsibility there is “self” responsibility.
Continuing with the Black Caps example “self responsibility” was brilliantly demonstrated by the wicket keeper BJ Watling. During the final he had one of his fingers dislocated while attempting a catch. The easy option; go off and see out the match from the dressing room. Not his first choice! He had the finger strapped, had a few numbing injections and played on. He took responsibility for his role in the team and for himself.
Most of us will not have to experience a massive failure, let alone three of them, on the global stage to be able to demonstrate taking responsibility for our performance, getting back up and coming back to win.
We all have the opportunity to take responsibility every day. My encouragement to you is to do so.