There may be no more important action linked to living a successful life than the ability to accept responsibility. In fact, the ability of an organization – or even a country – to be successful is directly linked to the acceptance of responsibility by its members or citizens.

History shows that the success of the United States can be traced straight to the willingness of our country to accept responsibility. Our nation’s ascension to the position of the leading country in the world is directly connected to the decision to rescue the world from tyranny in both the First and Second World Wars. The ability of our country to turn the tide to victory in both of these conflicts was born out of a fundamental value. Americans were willing to accept the responsibility of defending freedom and confronting evil.

Ultimately the success of any organization or nation is tied to the ability of its people to accept responsibility. Specific turning points in our history illustrate the impact of a leader boldly proclaiming the need for the US to accept responsibility at critical moments. These leaders’ proclamations have inspired our citizens to step up and right the wrongs that faced our country and the world. Specific examples of this are found in the leadership of George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and Franklin Roosevelt after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The greatness of the US is rooted in the willingness of Americans to take responsibility to fight for just causes even when those causes may not directly impact our own country’s future. Ultimately what makes the United States a unique and successful nation – and the leader of the free world – is the willingness to take the responsibility to confront evil and defeat it.

Our ability to do this as a nation is directly tied to the willingness of individual Americans to take responsibility in their own lives. A country cannot take the responsibility to fight for just causes if it does not have a culture where personal responsibility is valued. One of the noteworthy elements of Americans, as individuals and as a nation, is the willingness to take responsibility and do whatever it takes to get the job done. This value is core to what America is.

This can be seen throughout our history. Think of the Pilgrims whose colony was nearly decimated by disease and harsh weather. Yet they forged ahead accepting the long term responsibility. Or the founding fathers, willingly standing up against unjust taxation. Or even people like police officers and fire fighters who willingly put their lives on the line to help others. Americans have been known for not shirking responsibility. We get the job done.

On an individual basis, accepting responsibility is fundamental to living a successful adult life. In fact, becoming an adult is the process of going from a person who has little or no responsibility as a child to an adult who is fully responsible for his or her life.

Immaturity is the lack of responsibility. Maturity is the acceptance of responsibility. To go from childhood to adulthood, one must pass through the valley of excuses. Immature, irresponsible people make excuses and look to have their needs taken care of by others including the government. Responsible adults have passed through the valley of excuses, and, on a daily basis, take responsibility for every aspect of their lives.

The breakdown of the word responsibility is interesting. It can be broken down into two words: response and ability. It truly is the measure of our ability to respond to all kinds of challenges and situations. Acceptance of responsibility is not optional. It is mandatory if you want to lead a successful life.

There is a theory that states that civilizations and nations grow and decline to the degree to which they meet challenges effectively and respond to challenges properly. Nations who lose the ability to accept responsibility at a personal level ultimately fail. An example of this is the old Soviet Union. After nearly fifty years of disposing of personal responsibility, the USSR collapsed from within.

The greatness of the US is directly tied to the greatness of its people. The success of the people of the US on an individual basis is tied to their willingness to take responsibility. The more we exhibit accepting responsibility in every aspect of our lives, the stronger we will be as individuals. And the larger the number of US citizens who accept responsibility, the greater this country will be, and, therefore, the better its future will be.