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Be Responsible To - But Not For

Many people are confused with the concept of responsibility. Many of us have confused the concept and believe we can be responsible for the actions, behaviors and thoughts of others. Not possible! You can be responsible to others, but you cannot be responsible for them.

One of my on-line university students e-mailed me to complain about her grade, a very common occurrence. A discussion with the student revealed that she wasn't actually taking the class but simply had downloaded the assignment list and was winging it from there. She wasn't attending lectures or reading the additional information posted on the announcement board. Although I wanted to assist this student in being successful it occurred to me that I was only responsible to her not for her. I let the student know that I would do my part in teaching the class, but if she wasn't willing to learn I couldn't help her. We are responsible for doing our jobs, for our own actions, and for supporting others to the best of our ability, but that is as far as it can go.

This is an essential concept to get; it will make life so much easier. When you realize that you are not responsible for others only responsible to them, life becomes much easier. All you can do is the best job you can do and be the best you can be. What others do with that is up to them. As the famous saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

I know this is a tough one because often we want to take responsibility for others. That is impossible because we can't control the behavior, thoughts or feelings of another person. We can be responsible to them, helping them and supporting them in anyway possible, but that doesn't guarantee that what we do will make a difference. They have to want it to make a difference. They have to be open to, and accepting of, what we are doing for them. You are responsible to the people in your life, but not responsible for them.

Submitted by:

Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD

Coach Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD, is the publisher of the award winning e-zine, 365 Days of Coaching. Her first book, 365 Days of Coaching � Because Life Happens Every Day (Universal Publisher, 2004) was named a finalist for Best Book 2004 by Publish.com and has a five star rating on Amazon.com. Visit Coach Lee at her websites http://coachlee.com and http://365daysofcoaching.com. True Direction, Inc. Copyright


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