Responsibility: Taking Ownership

Two weeks ago, I dedicated a post to my mom to thank her for passing on the Positivity talent gene to me and my adult children.  Experts tell us that half of our talents are in our DNA (nature) and the other half are influenced by our environment (nurture).

I began thinking about what influence my dad had on forming my talents; both nature and nurture.  My father passed away in January of this year at the age of 89.  The past few years have been difficult for my dad.  We lost my mom - and his wife of nearly 58 years - in 2015.  He has had four (yes 4) hip surgeries and other ailments that come with advanced age.  I appreciate the care he received at his Assisted Living Center and the love and care my brother and his family bestowed on him in Colorado.  

My dad was a "triple-threat" athlete (baseball, football, basketball) and earned a scholarship to play both football and basketball at St. Michael's College in Vermont.  Sadly, his father, a Deputy Chief of Police, died unexpectedly when my dad was a Sophomore.  Given his older brother was in the Seminary and his younger sister was just 11 years old, he left college and got a job to support his family.  He would become an Ironworker by trade, and along the way hold many side jobs from driving tucks to tending bar.

I remember my dad getting up early, rain snow or shine, heading to work and coming back soiled and satisfied after a hard-days work.  I never once recall him "calling in" sick or otherwise and never heard him complain - although I can imagine the work was grueling.

While my mom influenced my heart, my dad influenced my head.  I credit my work ethic to my father, and am sure he would have Responsibility as a top Talent Theme if he took the StrengthsFinder assessment.  For me, Responsibility ranks #12 of my 34 Talent Themes.  It is actually one of the most frequent Signature Talent Themes globally, with 29% of all people having it in their Top 5.  Even though it is not in my Top 5, I do call upon it frequently as it pairs very well with Achiever and Ideation .  Given I tend to leverage this talent often, Gallup would call this a Dominant Talent Theme.   

When people unlock their full 34 report, Responsibility is one of those Talent Themes that people cringe at when they see it towards the bottom.  It is important to remember that our Talent Themes don't define what we do - they define how we do. If Responsibility is low for you, it does not mean you are irresponsible - it simply means you use other talents to get things done. 

People with Responsibility take psychological ownership of their commitments and feel emotionally bound to follow-through to completion.  Words used to describe people with Responsibility include conscientious, dependable and ethical.  They take ownership of what they say they will do and work hard to keep their word.

Speaking of keeping my word, I committed to a weight loss challenge in my April 8th on the Talent Theme Discipline.   In that post, I contrasted Discipline (#31 for me) and Responsibility, saying people with Discipline are driven by committing to a plan while people with Responsibility are driven by committing to others.  I did stay away from the Voodoo Doughnuts and lost 12 pounds!

If you or a peer have Responsibility as a Top Talent Theme, here are some ways to make the most of it;

* People with this Talent Theme thrive on new responsibilities.  Keep volunteering for more duties and projects.  Be careful not to over-commit as one additional project might result in "dropping the ball" (something people with Responsibility loathe).  Partner with someone with Discipline or Focus as Talent Themes to prevent you from becoming overloaded.

* People with Responsibility define themselves by the quality of their work and they will resist things that force them to rush.  They want to live up to their commitments but dislike sacrificing quality for speed.  Give them time and let them commit to a timeline that works - once they commit they are locked and loaded.

* People with Responsibility are self-starters and typically require little supervision.  In school, these were the people who hated group projects!  They will thrive when surrounded by others who take their responsibilities as seriously as they do.

Dan is currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  He prefers white-water rapids over data lakes and lists Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst his signature talents.    


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