Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying…or busy with other assignments…”
I have a very bad habit. I wonder if you share it too.
I love – I relish – the idea of taking responsibility for my actions. To me, that is what makes a mere human being a truly great human – being an active participant with skin in the game of life.
And I do. I do take responsibility for my actions… but only when it’s easy to.
Once it becomes slightly difficult – once there is risk – it all goes out the window. I tell myself that it wasn’t my fault, that I really didn’t have a choice, that I had to do what I had to do.
Bullshit. I’m just scared.
You always have a choice
Your measure as a human is not in how often you do the right thing, but in how often you do the right thing when it feels impossible to. When there are people that will hound you for it, when you will upset the status quo, when you will destroy sacred cows – this is when it is most important to not give in to your lower self.
It is precisely when you have the most to lose that you also have the most to gain by doing the right thing. It just depends how you frame the difficulty. Do you use it as an excuse to hide, or do you use it a spur to courageous action?
You always have a choice. Nobody can make you do anything against your will. Nobody can stop you from doing what you believe to be the right thing and nobody can take away your choice. Except – ironically – you, by telling yourself that you don’t have a choice.