On a long drive, I pulled off the highway and sat down for a beverage at a fast-food restaurant. That’s when a heated conversation caught my ear.
I looked up to see the restaurant manager, flustered and red in the face, arguing with a middle-aged woman whose face was even redder. A third person, a high-school-aged girl wearing the restaurant’s uniform, stood close by with both hands on her hips listening intently.
It turned out the girl had just completed her shift at the restaurant and was angry because she didn’t receive the 15-minute break to which she was entitled. Apparently, the restaurant had been busy, and for whatever reason, it didn’t happen.
So how did the young fast-food worker handle her disappointment? She called her mom. Apparently a “helicopter parent,” the mother rushed to the store to defend her daughter’s rights.
The confrontation between mom and manager took place right in the middle of the restaurant in front of several customers. It created an awkward, uncomfortable atmosphere.
“The law says she gets a break no matter what,” the mom threatened. “You better treat her right, or I’ll have her get a different job someplace else. I know you have a hard time getting workers to come all the way out here to the interstate!”
The incident was an example of a common problem in our world. There are too many people who don’t understand three important words: responsibility, authority and accountability. There are too many people who live like dependent victims. There are too many people who don’t take charge of their own lives.
And what’s even more disturbing? This problem is not limited to teenagers with micro-managing parents. Countless adults are afflicted as well.
Every individual has responsibility for himself or herself. Nobody else can or should make decisions for you. Fortunately, each of us has the authority to carry out that responsibility. Nobody has the right to take away the power you have over your own life. Finally, we are accountable for the decisions we make – good or bad. You live with the consequences of your decision-making and actions.
While responsibility, authority and accountability come with a burden, they are also liberating. Success begins and ends with you. People who abide by these three words enjoy more success and lead richer lives.
Until more people live by these important words, I’m afraid humanity will operate below its potential.