• May 2015
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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Stay focused when faced with change
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
'Trust is the new currency'
If it’s to be, it’s up to me

 “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” —Booker T. Washington

Personal responsibility is the great mobilizer of noble living! As a youngster, I was fortunate to have character mentors who helped me understand the first action of ethical inquiry: personal responsibility. Its daily use is the priceless human freedom that allows us to choose and re-choose a fundamental viewpoint for positive influence: If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

Personal responsibility is a verb, not a noun. Said differently, it is doing, not naming. The first action of personal responsibility is offense, not defense. Clearly and unfortunately, American society drifts rapidly toward living with a defensive, I-am-not-responsible collective psyche.

Defense is finger-pointing, finding blame, making excuses and condemning the actions of others. Defense is Toyota squandering enormous trust equity with consumers as it concealed self-interest at the expense of the questioned reliability of its cars and the protection of drivers.

Personal responsibility on offense is trust in action. It is concern, expressed outwardly, known in such behaviors as caring, empathy, tolerance and safety. Such actions do not see the significant other as an object to be deceived, manipulated, thwarted, threatened or diminished. Personal responsibility owns its problems; it does not hide or run from them.

Captured most poignantly by AT&T’s Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, "The Servant as Leader," personal responsibility embodies the transformational intention of the individual to create positive change. Servant leadership thinking, birthed in the clear waters of personal responsibility, acts to bring good to others. Responsibility is not a burden, nor a debt to be paid. It chooses to stand at the center of thoughts and feelings with a purpose of taking action to help, not harm.

Mission Integrity Action

Personal responsibility behaves with accountability to a significant other. Who are the significant others you choose to serve this week at home, at work and in the community? What servant actions do you take as you use the performance character asset of managing choice? Will you be accountable for the responsibility axiom: If it is to be, it is up to me?

Appreciating you on the ethical edge!

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge