The Honor of Responsibility

When I was a child my parents used to say, "When you show you're more responsible; we''l give you more freedom."

The irony is the more I demonstrated responsibility the less freedom I had. I may have been allowed to come and go more freely, but I was tied to my responsibilities.

I'm now reminded of Janis Joplin's line, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

As I've grown older I've come to realize accepting responsibility is an honor.

The world acknowledges that honor by entrusting us to be steward's of its resources. People speak of "owning" things; like cars, and property and businesses.

This is a misunderstanding of our relationship with our things and our governments.

We don't possess anything. If we do not care for the things for which we're responsible our governments will take them away from us and entrust them to someone else, they believe will better care for them.

Our relationships with our businesses are not quite the same, but should you misbehave in your role as business owner or leader and do something the government believes inconsistent with the welfare of your community, state, nation or the world; they will find a way to pry the reins of your business from your fingers; warm and alive, cold and dead or somewhere in between.

So, what are those responsibilities? I like to think of the Hippocratic Oath and "first, do no harm"; no harm to the environment or to people.

Then, your employees; I think it's our responsibility to lead an enterprise that's a healthy place to work.

I think it's important our customers can trust us to be worthy of their trust. I hate the expression, Caveat Emptor (Let The Buyer Beware). Who wants to do business with people you can't trust?

Lastly, I think we have a responsibility to our investors and partners to treat their investment appropriately. Use the resources they've entrusted to our care wisely.

All of this has been a prelude to what I consider a serious responsibility.

The sustainability of a business after a leader's tenure at the helm.

Ask yourself this, "Do I have any responsibility to the community in which I've conducted my business, to my customers, to my employees or my investors beyond the manner in which I lead the business during my tenure at the helm?"

What do you want your legacy to be?

The Boy Scouts instructed us to leave our campsites better than we found them. Will the world be a better place because of how you led your business?

I believe it's an honor to be seen as worthy of responsibility.

How do you see it?

What will be your legacy?

How will your tenure as a business leader be judged?