Recently, I heard someone attribute the following quote to Dostoevsky: “every man is not only responsible for everything he does, but for everything everyone else does.” I was intrigued and did some research. Although I could not find that specific quote, he did say “in truth we are each responsible to all for all”. Both quotes express similar ideas, and both are daunting. It seems I am responsible not only for myself, but also everyone else? How is that in any way right, fair, or even possible??!
But then I took a step back and really considered the concept of both quotes. When I joined my first non-work organization (so many years ago!), I recalled being told on my first day “what I put into it is what I will get out of it”. I was young, inexperienced, and naïve enough to wonder why it was my responsibility. Shouldn’t the group I joined be responsible for my experience? Isn’t that why I joined? Like I said– young, inexperienced, and naïve. Needless to say, at first, it was a terrible experience. I got very little out of it until I decided to take their advice and took responsibility for my experience. It was a life learning experience, like so many things are when we are young. I learned that I am accountable for what I get out of an experience, it’s up to me! When I joined other groups, I immediately got involved and took ownership of what I wanted my experience to be. Most of all, I learned that I am responsible for myself.
Once I started doing that, I found that what I got in return was proportional to the effort I put in. Over time, I learned that the more effort and engagement I put in, the higher my return; my experiences were better, and I was more positive. I admit that sometimes I had to fake interest at first, but the more time I invested, the more vested I became. I found that I started to enjoy the experience, which in turn, caused me to put more into it. I noticed that more effort I put in, the better the experience for everyone.
Taking responsibility for myself and my actions is how my network has grown and how my life has evolved. Getting involved in whiskey and cigar groups is how I’ve grown my collections and expanded my knowledge in these areas. It’s also how I’ve forged lifelong friends, built relationships, and enjoyed new experiences. As it turns out, Dostoevsky was right. So was the person who gave me advice when I was starting out. We are accountable for ourselves and our own experiences and the more effort we put in, the more we benefit. Since no person is an island, the more we put into ourselves, the greater the impact is on those we interact with. In this way, we create our individual worlds and impact those of others. If we simply sat back and waited for it to happen, we would get nowhere and be unhappy waiting.
“It’s only when you take responsibility for your life, that you discover how powerful you truly are!” – Allanah Hunt
What will you take responsibility for this weekend?