Response-Ability: The Difference Between Mediocrity and Success

NOTE: this article has been updated on 2 April 2018. 


Responsibility is a combination of the two words: "Response" and "Ability"

A person is responsible when he is able to respond appropriately to an external event. A responsible person is successful because he takes ownership of his actions and results, regardless of his external circumstances. 

A person is irresponsible when he is unable to respond appropriately to an external event. An irresponsible person is unsuccessful because he blames others for his failures. He faults the economy, the people around him, bad luck and his inherent lack of resources. 


Source: az quotes

Source: az quotes

To be a responsible person you need to accept that certain events are out of your control. Most of the events that happen to you are at best, random:

  • You didn't decide which family to be born into, 
  • You had no say in determining your gender or race,
  • You have no control over the market,
  • Nor can you decide what others think of you. 

But one thing that you do have 100% control over is your attitudes and the way you respond to an event. Read below to find out why "response-ability" is a top rated characteristic in all successful individuals (and how you can use this to your advantage!).  



First Accept that Random Events are neutral.

To demonstrate high levels of "response-ability", you first need to accept that random events are "empty" and "neutral". This helps to better control one's emotions and actions in response to an event. 

Random events such as:

  • being involved in a robbery,
  • being relieved from your job due to company downsizing or,
  • your car breaking down on the highway

are all negative and it's only human to get upset. However, we must also accept that such events are not purposefully "manufactured" to make us suffer. In reality, they are neutral in the sense that they bear no real meaning in and of itself. These are random events that we have little to no control over. 

The goal is NOT to develop apathy but to help us control our emotions in response to a specific event. This is important because emotions lead to actions and actions ultimately lead to results. For example: an irresponsible person would fail to see a negative event as being "empty". He starts to let negative emotions arise within him (such as anxiety, anger and frustration) and as a result, it becomes natural for him to act destructively (such as violence and hatred). 

It is said that your emotional right brain trumps over your logical left brain when making decisions (Read: How To Keep Your Sanity). We are wired to be emotional and therefore it is important to not let random events dictate how we feel. 



You Have a Choice, "E + R = O" Formula by jack canfield. 

When an event occurs, we always have a choice as to how we respond. It is not in the random events in life but the way we respond to such events that differentiate between the mediocre and the successful. This is consistent with the formula shared by Jack Canfield in his book "The Success Principles": Event (E) + Response (R) = Outcome (O).

A responsible person understands that for an event (E) to have an outcome (O) it needs our response (R). Successful people operate on the fact that they do have the power to influence the outcome of an event. They are not victimised by the random events that happen to them but they take responsibility by making the right decisions and actions. They try to make a difference wherever and whenever they can. 

An irresponsible person operates and perceives life as Event (E) = Outcome (O). They feel helpless whenever something goes wrong or there's an obstacle. They let external events dictate how to feel and what to do. They write off other people's successes as luck as they feel they didn't have any. The irresponsible are complainers and they take no ownership over their lives. 


It is time to stop looking outside yourself for the answers to why you haven’t created the life you lead and the results you produce.

You — no one else!

To achieve major success in life — to achieve those things that are most important to you — you must assume 100% responsibility for your life.

Nothing less will do.
— The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield



You always have a choice.

Decide for yourself that from today you will be a responsible person. Don't overestimate your problems (Events) and underestimate your ability to respond (Response).