Personal Responsibility

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. John M. Watry
  • 319th Force Support Squadron
Do you know someone that makes it sound like everyone is out to get them? That everything that happens to them is the fault of someone else? Usually, this is the result of that person not taking personal responsibility for the choices they have made. We all make choices every day. These choices not only affect you but they also have an impact on those around you. Almost everything that happens in our lives is dictated by the choices we make and the attitude we have when things do not go the way we want them to. These choices vary from the mundane to major life changes and everything in between. The object is to make good choices, avoid bad choices and if you make a bad choice to learn from it. No matter what happens though, you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make and how they affect your life and those around you.

Many people think of making a choice and personal responsibility as doing something active. However, that is only half of it. The choices we make to not act carry just as much weight and are just as important as when we choose to act. When you see something that is not right, do you let it continue or do you step in and correct it? It could be as simple as correcting someone's dress and appearance or cutting someone off when they have had too much to drink. It doesn't matter what rank you are, you are still responsible for what you decide to do or not do. If you choose not to act, you can lose credibility with coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates. Not taking responsibility and choosing not to act, in effect, condones the behavior.

Throughout my career, I have heard individuals try to condone their behavior and abrogate their personal responsibility with a statement like: "Everyone else was doing it". Peer pressure puts a lot of people in bad situations because they do something they shouldn't or don't stop something they should, all because they are concerned with what others think. You should not worry about what others think of your actions if it is the responsible thing to do. If you can't own up to and defend the decision you make, it is probably the wrong decision, and if the people around you don't respect the decision you make, you should probably find other people to be around. Just because someone else does or doesn't do something doesn't make it right. You still have to take the responsibility for what you choose to do.

Our Air Force Core Values are driven by the idea of personal responsibility. Integrity First epitomizes personal responsibility. Doing the right thing whether or not it is witnessed by others is a key part of taking personal responsibility for your actions. Service Before Self relies on us to own up to the responsibilities we took on when we swore our oath of enlistment or oath of office. Excellence In All We Do requires us to take the responsibility to give our best effort at all times, both professionally and personally. Taking personal responsibility for our decisions makes us stronger individually which makes us a stronger Air Force and a stronger society.