Taking Personal Responsibility

Rocky Mountaineer Train

Have you ever had an ‘aha’ moment at a really unexpected time? My recent ‘aha’ came during an amazing holiday we’re just back from; a trip of a lifetime kind of holiday. We took the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver followed by an Alaskan cruise. I’ve decided that Canada is an Introvert kind of country, but that’s a topic for another day.

I don’t know how many of you have been to Canada, or watched programs about the Rocky Mountaineer on TV, but I have to say it’s the most extraordinary experience.

We were at Banff in readiness for the start of our Rocky Mountaineer trip starting the following day. We went along to the station to familiarize ourselves with where we needed to be, and we were quite surprised that there wasn’t a platform to speak of. You just walked through the station building onto a regular pavement and there were the tracks. There was no raised platform with a drop down onto the tracks. It was all there just as at the same level as we were. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, but I did notice a little sign near the track that said ‘active line’. I didn’t really think anything more about that either. Clearly, thinking isn’t my thing when I’m on holiday!

Anyway, the next morning, bright and early, we showed up at Banff Station waiting for the Rocky Mountaineer. We walked onto this platform that isn’t a platform, and stand at the allotted space. If you’ve travelled on Eurostar, you’ll be familiar with having a point on the platform where you need to stand. The same thing applies here. As we waited, rolling into sight, and (literally) in touching distance, was this huge beast of the Rocky Mountaineer. And of course, it seems even bigger because we’re standing at track level. Then there’s the height of the wheels and the carriages on top. My breath was quite literally taken away by it.

That’s when it occurred to me what ‘active line’ means; trains are using this line.

It occurred to me that Canada and France are a bit alike in this; both clearly expect people to take responsibility for their own safety. There are no high or electrified fences keeping you out. There are no big warning signs. I’ve always admired that about France. When you see the TGVs thundering through the countryside, there are no protective barriers there either.

It really got me thinking about taking responsibility, especially as a Flourishing Introvert.

When I flourish, I don’t blame others, don’t finger point, don’t take the role of the victim. I take responsibility for my own actions, my own behaviour, and my own way of being. So rather than making others wrong for being the way they are, I need to make the best of who I am as an introvert. I need to really own my strengths as an introvert. I need to share those strengths because goodness knows, organizations need those strengths to come to the fore. We need to bring our ‘quiet power’ as Susan Cane talks about, into the workplace, into family settings, into communities. Everywhere!

Flourishing is something that’s talked about in positive psychology and I have a separate musing about that. In short, it’s where people are consciously and actively in pursuit of a joyful way of life. Where people engage in things that bring their life real meaning, where they can be authentic. We know that flourishing is a process, not a destination. It requires active participation. You can’t flourish passively.

On the flipside of flourishing is hiding, where people say “I’m an introvert so I don’t do x, y & z.” That’s hiding.

Flourishing is saying “I’m an introvert, therefore I do things this way”. Really owning it and taking responsibility. Flourishing requires that we let people know where our boundaries are. We let people know what we expect, what we need. People aren’t mind readers. We can still engage in many social things, but in the way we like to participate. We have a responsibility to communicate our needs to other people around us, whoever they are. We need to let people know.

When we accept that we’re introverts, with our inherent introvert strengths, we realise there’s nothing wrong with us. We don’t need fixing, we don’t need rescuing. And, we don’t need to hide behind Introversion, or inside it for that matter.

Take responsibility for your own flourishing and live your joyful life authentically.

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