Pastors preach it, philosophers write about it, teachers tape responsibility quotes to classroom walls, parents threaten more of it and politicians stir audiences when speaking about it.
Responsibility. Some boldly step forward to embrace it; others slink away to avoid it. Most of us are aware that being responsible might not guarantee success and that being irresponsible is a certain promise of failure. To achieve anything worth doing, you have to “suck it up.” YOU have to be responsible.
George Washington Carver echoed that thinking with “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”
Not much is known about poet Ivern Ball other than his many “quotable” quotes like “Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else.”
Oscar Wilde was surely smirking when he quipped “Duty is what one expects from others.”
When asked about accepting responsibility, author Erica Jong said “Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”
Rock stars often are thought of as reckless and irresponsible. Don’t tell that to Don Henley of The Eagles; “In the old days, words like sin and Satan had a moral certitude. Today, they’re replaced with self-help jargon, words like dysfunction and antisocial behavior, discouraging any responsibility for one’s actions.”
Albert Einstein was not a believer in excuses; “Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will - his personal responsibility.”
The late actor Broderick Crawford, perhaps learning the hard way, spoke of being responsible for what you say with “Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.”
Comedian Bill Maher has eaten his words more than once. Yet he recognizes the need for personal responsibility; “We have the Bill of Rights. What we need is a Bill of Responsibilities.”
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn believes that everything starts with personal responsibility; “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.”
Not all therapists and psychologists blame your parents for your problems. Famed psychologist Albert Ellis stated; “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”
George Bernard Shaw also believed in putting our past behind us; “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”
Leaders not only take personal responsibility seriously, but also the responsibility to contribute to society, to give back.
Then President-elect Kennedy paraphrased the Bible when he said; “For of those to who much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us, recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state…”
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a member of another famous American family dynasty, also stressed duty; “I believe that every right implies a responsibility, an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
After his humble beginnings, Anthony Robbins speaks of giving back; “Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.”
President Barack Obama called on all American citizens with; “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Finally, no list of responsibility quotes would be complete without this from Sir Winston Churchill; “The price of greatness is responsibility.”