Responsibility vs. Opportunity

February 13, 2012

Pedagogy

I have been thinking about the words responsibility & opportunity for a few weeks. Too often we operate under the banner of responsibility. Responsibility is not an inviting word, it does not lead me to go above and beyond what I am responsible for. For example, since I bought a house I am suppose to be responsible and pay my mortgage. I simply pay my mortgage, it is my duty. What I do not do is bring flowers and candy to the bank when I drop off my mortgage payment. My responsibility to my bank is to make the appropriate payment at the appropriate time. I only do what I am responsible for.

In life it is easy to fall into the responsible trap. I have a family so I have a responsibility to provide food and shelter, love and care. If I viewed my family as just my responsibility I would not provide the kind of love and care that I desire. In the end I would have failed because I did not view my family as an incredible opportunity to impact my wife and children’s life for the better.

Often learning a musical instrument is viewed as meeting a series of obligations, responsibilities. I have to practice because I have a lesson. I have a responsibility to make good grades so I will sit through another 45 minutes of right-hand technique. Viewing practicing as a responsibility, a set of minimum qualifications you must hit, limits your potential and zaps your passion for music and performance.

Instead of viewing events and people in my life as responsibilities I want to view them as opportunities. It is not my responsibility to provide food and shelter, love and care for my family. It is my opportunity. An opportunity to prepare and impact them for a great life. An opportunity to provide them a platform for success. It is not drudgery, it is opportunity.

If I take this to my practicing then technique is not my responsibility, it is my opportunity to prepare myself to play difficult passages in musical ways. It is my opportunity to learn how to share difficult music with anyone who will listen. It is my opportunity to prepare myself for future success.

So, how do we turn our thinking from responsibility to opportunity?

1) Know why you want something:
When you tie a greater good to what you are doing you infuse your to-dos with passion and purpose.

2) Be passionate about life:
I’ve read more times than I can count, “be the most passionate person you know.” This is a key to thinking of your to-dos as opportunities. When you are living and viewing life negatively everything is a responsibility. It is more difficult to view the mundane things in life as opportunities if you are passionless. When you are a passionate person your to-dos take on purpose, they take on opportunity.

3) Remind yourself daily the impact of your actions:
What you do today greatly influences your impact tomorrow. So, remind yourself that each thing you do, or do not do, greatly influences who you will become.

What about you? What do you think about responsibility and opportunities?

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