Responsibility is a tricky one.

It’s a bit of a thing to “take responsibility” these days. If you want to be a good person, you’ve got to take responsibility, be responsible. So many people say it. They “claim responsibility”.

Very often, I can’t help but get a sense of heaviness from the way it is said. Most of the times, I perceive people using responsibility as a prison, as a whip to beat themselves up. As a burden. Something to endure, to grind your teeth together, and then to stand up and take the hit.

Responsibility, perceived like that, is still on the “old map”.

The old map of responsibility describes the territory of responsibility in a way that possibilities are limited. Just like on the old map of the world, when people still thought that the world was flat: possibilities were limited because by the outline of the map, if you went to the edge of the known territory you’d risk falling off and dying. What was the result? Most people stayed in the safe territory and didn’t venture to the edge or beyond.

The limited possibility perception of responsibility is one that I learned growing up, as well as in my professional life as a lawyer. It is what people in modern culture generally learn: Responsibility is hard, heavy, a burden, arduous, lonely, all about blame, something to be avoided, it equals power. Make sure you get the biggest paycheck for taking the burden.

Responsibility can be understood in a radically different way that opens up more possibilities.

Just like on our current map version of the world, where the world is round. The round world map opens up many more possibilities than the flat world map. All of a sudden, it became possible for people to circumnavigate the world in all directions! The crazy part is: Had reality changed? Had the world actually changed? No. The perception of the world had changed. And: People actually were killed for daring to find and point out a new map (that is: a map that was closer to reality!).

Looking at responsibility in a radically different way is equally threatening to the beliefs that most of us grew up with.

How could you look at responsibility in a way that it opens up more possibilities?

Responsibility can be perceived on the “new” map as being the source, as creativity, as fun, as authentic authority, as light, as something never to give up, exciting, vibrant, having unlimited resources, etc.

We live in a responsible universe in which every action and inaction has consequences and leads to certain results.

Looked at it this way, how can anyone not be responsible?

On this new map of the territory of responsibility, possibilities vastly increase because you get to choose in each moment what it is that you want your actions and inactions to result in.

“Taking” responsibility doesn’t really reflect that new map of responsibility, because whether you like it or not, you “are” responsible. That doesn’t mean everyone acknowledges it. Most humans on this planet still try to avoid the consequences of their responsibility. They’re using an outdated map to navigate through life, and they forget that by trying to avoid responsibility, they’re avoiding life itself.

When radical responsibility means that there are no excuses for the results that we have or that we cause, then there is no place for a “We” in that. There is only place for each person to be the source. If I am the source, then I am responsible for whatever I source or don’t source. If you are the source, then you are responsible for whatever you source or don’t source.

Do you get that?

It doesn’t mean you have to be a lonely wolf and martyr. Instead, responsibility perceived in such way opens up unlimited possibilities for collaboration and co-creation from a place of clear individual responsibilities. Hierarchies fall away. Circles become possible. You can stand in your power to ask for what you want, to say No to what you don’t want, to create the world you’re here to live in.

When there’s no “we” in responsibility, you can no longer hide behind others. There’s no more excuse waiting for others to clean up messes or to get things started. That’s huge. It is daunting. It is great news.

The New Map of Responsibility comes from the context of Possibility Management, a gameworld for authentic adulthood initiation. Read more on Radical Responsibility here.

Julia Neumann

I am a pioneer exploring the edges of current realities, venturing into unknown territories to collaboratively co-create a regenerative culture in service of life. The best way I know how is to empower you to bring forth your unique gifts and dreams.

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