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Personal Responsibility: The First Step to Prosperity

By Garrett Gunderson

If you want to live an abundant life, the first step is taking personal responsibility for everything that happens in your life without using excuses or placing blame.

Another term for this is self-reliance. People who lack self-reliance are dependent.  Self-reliant people are independent internally and interdependent externally.

Self-reliance is not to be confused with self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is the scarcity-minded counterfeit of self-reliance. It comes from people mistrusting others and leads to disunity.

It’s the “do-it-yourself” attitude that rejects synergizing with others.

Responsible people are brave. It takes courage to stop placing blame and to turn inward and be painfully honest with ourselves. It’s so tempting and easy to find excuses for why things didn’t turn out the way we wanted.

Placing blame on others and on circumstances is the customary, habitual route of most people.  Self-reliant people make the tough choice to focus primarily on what they can change about themselves.

In his popular song “Waiting on the World to Change,” musician John Mayer perfectly expresses the antithesis of self-reliance. Consider this abbreviated version of the song:

Me and all my friends

We’re all misunderstood

They say we stand for nothing and

There’s no way we ever could

Now we see everything that’s going wrong

With the world and those who lead it

We just feel like we don’t have the means

To rise above and beat it

So we keep waiting

Waiting on the world to change

It’s hard to beat the system

When we’re standing at a distance

So we keep waiting

Waiting on the world to change

And when you trust your television

What you get is what you got

Cause when they own the information, oh

They can bend it all they want

That’s why we’re waiting

Waiting on the world to change

It’s not that we don’t care,

We just know that the fight ain’t fair

So we keep on waiting

Waiting on the world to change

In contrast to this attitude of futility and lack of self-reliance, the statesman Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Responsible people understand that the world can only change in proportion to how much and how well they change as individuals. Thus, self-reliant people feel empowered and passionate, while irresponsible people feel out of control and apathetic.

Self-reliance is what allows us to transcend the crippling disease of self-deception and enter the peaceful world of personal accountability.

Stephen R. Covey teaches self-reliance in his book The 8th Habit. He writes,

“How easy it is for people to think and feel, ‘I’m a victim; I’ve tried everything; there’s nothing more I can do; I’m stuck.’ They’re frustrated and miserable but don’t see any other option. My response to their question usually shocks them a little. I can see by their widening eyes that some are even offended to begin with. This is what I say: ‘Any time you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.’”

The first key to living an abundant life is to choose personal responsibility in any given moment. Only then will you find power and hope, and experience real and lasting change.

Stop wanting the world to change and start changing and improving yourself; that’s the one thing you have ultimate control over.


Garrett Gunderson is an entrepreneur, financial coach, the founder of Freedom FastTrack, and the primary author of the New York Times bestseller Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity.

Garrett loves inspiring others to turn their potential into production. He has dedicated his life to living and teaching a unique concept known as Soul Purpose that reveals how anyone can live a more prosperous and rewarding life.

As a finance and business productivity coach, Garrett instructs both large and small groups of business owners and financial service professionals nationwide.

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  1. Sil Johnson says

    I found it amazingly liberating when I decided to take responsiblity for my life and stop blaming other people or entities for what I didn’t like. Life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops, but when the ‘bad things’ happen, the one thing I can control is how I handle them.

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