I am a recipient of your “Promoting Responsibility” newsletter, and I would like to pose a question.

I believe in responsibility; however, my problem is feeling OVER-RESPONSIBLE for many things which shouldn’t be my responsibility. However, fearing that I may be looking for excuses not to do something, I take the blame for things that aren’t really my fault or shoulder tasks that I shouldn’t be doing.

Where is the path and method of knowing the difference of knowing when it is my duty and when I should impose the responsibility or blame on others?

My other problem is related to that of being responsible, I have become independent, not trying to look to others to blame or solve my problems for me. But it’s come to a point where I realize that I do need to ask people for help; I do need to ask people for assistance. This is the next level of maturity that Stephen Covey writes about from dependency to independence to interdependency. How should my thinking change?

Any assistance or thoughts would be appreciated.


Congratulations! You have a handle on and understand Stephen Covey’s (7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE) paradigm—not to be confused with a “paradigm shift,” which he also uses. (By the way, the first testimonial in my book is by Dr. Covey.)

My mantra is, “Don’t do things for other people (regardless of age) that they can do for themselves.” When you do, you are depriving them of an experience which can assist in their growth and development.

The path and method are both in the question you ask yourself, namely, “IN THE LONG RUN, will my doing the task help the other person become more responsible? A responsible person has greater self-esteem, is more satisfied, and is happier.

If, on the other hand, you are sought out because you are very responsible, then you should make a responsible decision concerning yourself. “Know thyself” includes setting limits to what you accept.

RE: Needlessly taking blame. Ask yourself, “What can I learn and do differently next time?” Forget blame. Look for growth and learning. This approach is so much more valuable.

Getting back to Covey’s “interdependence,” Sure I can do the plumbing, the gardening, and the painting myself,  but I choose to spend my time in the areas that are most important to me.”

I have no problem asking others for help. Neither should you.

One of the beauties of being human is the opportunity for growth—our own and others.