I was recently asked what was the most important advice I was given that helped me to become a successful leader. While it took me a moment to ponder this, to review all I had read and all I had heard, I knew that the one thing which changed the way I lead other people was to take absolute responsibility for who I was, where I was and what I was doing.

Why was this so critical to my success?

Because once I took responsibility, I had the power to create change. I was no longer making excuses, pointing the finger, or focusing the blame on an event or another person.

When we are able to focus our energy on moving forward rather than getting stuck on the past, on the things that we no longer can change, we have more energy to create the things we desire. What happens to us is that we don’t want to accept total responsibility for where we are, because the first thing we do is beat ourselves up. We feel guilty about not being good enough, so it is easier to play the victim.

BUT here is the rub, when we volunteer to be the victim, we also volunteer to give our power away. We might feel better for a few seconds when we blame other people or events, because it was not our fault, but when nothing changes for us, when we are still finding excuses rather than solutions, then playing the blame game is rather futile.

As leaders, we can create a better vision, more productivity, and develop better people when we take responsibility for who we are. Once we believe we have the power within ourselves to change our surroundings and to create what we desire, then we are no longer looking at things we cannot change, but we are empowering ourselves to be the creators of our destiny.

A leader is able to take responsibility for failure without feeling like a failure. A leader knows the difference between making a mistake and the mistake of believing that we become our mistakes. A leader knows that empowerment comes with the ability to see the future as malleable, as a work in progress, and as a series of small errors which point the way to improvement and therefore success.

We always have choices. We can choose responsibility or we can choose victim hood. We can choose to have success or to explain why somebody else stole our opportunity for success.

Those leaders who accept responsibility for their current place in life are not hoping or wanting or wishing for their dreams, but they are in the business of living them.