Personal Responsibility, Hard Work and Success

Commitment to taking personal responsibility for your success is one of the keys to career and life success that is part of my Common Sense Success System.  I discuss it in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Your Success GPS, and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success. 

If you want to succeed, you must commit to three things.  First, you must take personal responsibility for your success.  Only you can make you a success.  You need to be willing to do the things necessary to succeed.  Second, you must set high goals — and then do whatever it takes to achieve them.   Third, stuff happens; as you go through life you will encounter many problems and setbacks.  You need to react positively to the negative stuff and move forward toward your goals.

On Sunday, I saw a column by Ruben Navarrette called “10 Lessons for the Native Born.”  This column focused on personal responsibility – with a twist.  He was addressing Americans who resent or are wary of recent immigrants.  In Mr. Navarrette’s words…

“Americans can pay tribute to their immigrant ancestors, live up to their potential, and avoid getting passed up by the immigrants of today by adhering to some simple rules.”

Here is a brief overview of some of the rules he suggests…

  • Work hard, and teach your children to take summer and after school jobs.  Don’t treat any kind of work as beneath you.  Someone has to do it, and you’re no better than they are.
  • Don’t play the victim.  Just because you didn’t get a promotion doesn’t mean you can duck responsibility by blaming affirmative action or other forces beyond your control.
  • Raise your kids to be confident, but not narcissistic.  Our youth are intoxicated with cheap self-esteem, taught to believe that everyone in a race deserves a trophy just for showing up.
  • Don’t think of yourself as entitled to anything.  Don’t worry about what you think you deserve.  Just concentrate on doing what is necessary to earn what you want.

Mr. Navarrette is right on.  He captures the essence of committing to taking personal responsibility for your life and career.  Work hard; don’t play the victim; be self confident, but not narcissistic; do what is necessary to earn what you want. 

He closed his column with this gem…

“When it comes to optimism, entrepreneurship and hard work, it wouldn’t hurt to try to keep up with recent immigrants.  They might even help remind you how lucky you are, and what a special place this is.”

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people commit to taking personal responsibility for their lives, careers and success.  Hard work and self confidence are an important part of committing to personal responsibility.  So is realizing that none of us are entitled to anything.  We have to earn what we get.  Ruben Navarrette makes a great point to native born Americans when he suggests we pay attention to recent immigrants and emulate their work ethic.  He made me think about my immigrant grandparents and how hard they worked to build a better life for themselves and their families.  I like to think that I have a lot of them in me – and that my hard work accounts for a lot of my success.

That’s my take on hard work and success, what’s yours?  Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Bud,

    I believe in the principles of personal responsibility and hard work because they have proven themselves over time. These are real things that when applied provide huge dividends to one’s life. Unfortunately it seems harder and harder to find people that believe in these concepts as I do.

    I would also add that we also must take personal responsibility for our failures. We cannot place blame on anyone else when we fail and we must make the effort to not fail in the same way again. That is how progress is made.

    Thank you,


  2. You are so right about taking personal responsibility for you failures Steve.
    I find that the best way to do this is to choose to learn from them, so the next time you encounter a similar situation you won’t fail, you’ll succeed.
    Thanks for the comment.

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