Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was a poor boy from Illinois who became one of America’s greatest presidents.
He was not a perfect person. He failed often, but he never let it stop him. He kept on going.
And whether he failed or succeeded, he knew who was responsible: He was. Nobody else.
Lincoln taught himself law by reading books that he borrowed. He taught himself land surveying in the same way. He took any work he could find, no matter how humble. He was determined to make something of himself: to live a life that made a difference. And if it was going to happen, it would be up to him to make it happen.
That’s the advice that he gave in 1848 to young lawyers:
“The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder him. Allow me to assure you that suspicion and jealousy never did help any man in any situation.”
It’s true that sometimes, people will try to hinder us. But even then, what ultimately happens is still up to us.
Blaming others is a psychological crutch that we don’t need. We can’t control what other people do. We can only control what we do.
If we take responsibility for our own lives, then success is not guaranteed. Like Lincoln, we might still fail sometimes.
But if we don’t take responsibility, then failure is guaranteed. Even if we get what we want, we’ll know that we didn’t earn it. The sweet things will taste bitter in our mouths.
Taking responsibility keeps the sweet things sweet. As they should be.