By John Sonmez January 28, 2016

Personal Responsibility And The Road To Success

Does personal responsibility play some role on the road to success?

On this video, a teacher sent me a question asking about personal responsibility. She sees a lot of changes happening, especially on this new generation of kids.

What should she do in order to teach those kids about personal responsibility?



Full transcript:

John:               Hey, John Sonmez from I got this question from a professor of Information Systems, Emilia. Emilia says, “In terms of what I’m looking for I’m now on my third career, a professor at a local community college. The main issue I find difficult to get through to my students is that personal responsibility is key to their success. They want a handout, an automatic A and to get graded on what they could do rather than what they turn in. it’s a bit ridiculous. I don’t completely understand the shift in mindset from when I was in school when we studied our butts of and took the B because we got it almost but not completely right. I’m continually drawing parallels for my students from my time in the workplace in the hopes of driving home the message of the importance of attention to detail, personal responsibility and so on, but they continue to complain how they know the material despite not exhibiting that knowledge in their work so should have had 100%.”

“I’m not looking for advice for me but advice for them that school is the first step to a job and that treating it like a job will better prepare them for the work place. I greatly enjoyed your recent post on soft skills and your earlier post featured on Java Code Geeks on steps to becoming a great software developer both echo my own trajectory through the software development field. Thank you. Emilia.”

So as you requested Emilia I’ll try to address this to your students or to young people who don’t seem to—what is it they call? The entitlement mentality. They don’t seem to want to work. They just want to—I like how you put it that they want to be graded on what they could do rather than what they turn in. I’m a bit of a realist even though I’m an optimist. What that means is that I think that you have to have a real perspective of the world. You have ideals and ideals are good. That helps us shape the kind of future that we want to create but the reality and the situation is what should dictate our actions.

The reality of the situation is you get graded on the work that you do. There’s a real good quote. I forget who said this quote. Gosh, I can’t remember. I think it’s in a book called The Millionaire Mindset. Anyway, the quote is—I love this quote, it’s, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

What this means is that—and this is what I would encourage you if you’re listening. If you think you deserve an A based on what you could do is that when you’re in school—like if you think, okay, well in the real work environment I would work harder—this is usually the justification, “Well when I was really running the race” “When I go to the Olympics then I’ll run my 400. Then I’ll throw up at the end. Then I’ll run so hard that I’ll throw up but right now I’m not going to give it my full effort because whatever. Just grade me on what I deserve.”

Well, how you practice, how you do your school work, how you do anything is how you do everything. You can’t just flip the switch. You can’t just say, “Okay, now I’m really going to try” because that doesn’t work. What ends up happening is you delay practice and you don’t practice really hard and then you get in the starting blocks and you realize you’re fat and you can’t run because you didn’t practice, because you didn’t work hard and you don’t deserve the gold medal.

You can’t think that you deserve—you’ve got to—every single thing that you do in life you should be trying the best, doing it to the best of your ability. You might suck. Who cares? But are you doing it the best? The one thing that I would say pisses me off more than anything else is when people don’t give it their best, when they don’t try hard. They’re just lazy and they don’t give it the effort. Everything you’re doing you should be doing the best that you can because if you don’t develop that habit then when it counts you’re not going to be able to count on it either, right? You just become very slothful and your whole life will be based on what other people decide for you. You won’t be able to have to control.

If you want to have control over your life, if you want to choose your destiny you have to develop self-discipline. You have to develop this ability to work hard and to be able to put your full effort into everything that you do. That’s what I would say is that you can think whatever you want but you’re always judged by your actions, you’re always judged by what results you can produce. I know a lot of folks, a lot of kids, even some of my friends going up that are extremely—that are way smarter than me but they don’t apply—they don’t try.

You could be a total genius, you could be the smartest—have the highest 167 IQ in the world, you can be the smartest person in the world, but if you don’t actually do the work, and if you don’t actually put in the effort, not only will other people surpass you but you’ll get no benefit from it. You’ll just be sitting there talking about how great you are but you’re not really great unless—someone of lesser capability will exceed you if you are not willing to put in the work. If you have a gift, if you’re talented in some way use that gift otherwise you’ll let it go to waste and it doesn’t matter. In the long run the person who—the quote from The North and South, “The race is not to the swift but to the driven” be the driven.

All right. If you like this video, subscribe to the channel. Take care.




About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."