Guidance for Teaching Responsibility

Guidance for Teaching Responsibility

For teachers, coaches, leaders, parents, caregivers, and you

How do you get others to take Responsibility? That’s the big burning question.

No one can make anyone else take Responsibility.

(I can’t even make myself take Responsibility. I’ve tried. It leads to Shame, Obligation, and Quit).

You can only invite it.


The Responsibility Process® works only when self-applied.

So to get other people to take Responsibility, you want them to self-apply. And to help them self-apply, you get to teach them how Responsibility works in their mind.

With that in mind, our team recently drafted a brief guide to benefit one of our audience segments — coaches and teachers. I want to share this with you because everyone, including you, has the opportunity to teach Responsibility.


(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It is 1000 words and takes 5 minutes to read.)

About this guide

This guide supports teachers, coaches, and others who want to teach The Responsibility Process.

We know – and are grateful – that many coaches, teachers, and workshop leaders include some form of introduction and instruction around our unique understanding of Responsibility (see what we mean by capital “R” Responsibility). Our goal with this guide is to help you serve your audience.

Most of our audience learns about The Responsibility Process from a teacher or coach. So if we support you in teaching Responsibility, you expand its reach. And that’s central to our mission.

This guide contains four sections:

  • Using the intellectual property
  • Teaching guidelines
  • Direct your clients and students to Responsibility resources
  • How can we support you?

Let’s start with what is and isn’t fair use.

Using the intellectual property

Coaches frequently ask us to clarify what intellectual property they can use and what they can’t. We’ll clarify that here.

We presume that you have a basic understanding of how to reference material that someone else created. And that you know how to do so by providing citations and links.

We categorize our intellectual property into three buckets, starting with Content under a Creative Commons license.

Content under a Creative Commons license

A Creative Commons license covers The Responsibility Process posters. It is stated on the back of each translation at the bottom of the second page and reads:

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons International Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (see for what this license covers).

Available in 29 languages, you may distribute this poster in hard copy or digital format in its entirety only and without changes or adaptations. We encourage you to distribute it far and wide.

Additionally, all of the content and our broadcast emails are also covered by a Creative Commons license.

Most content posted elsewhere online (such as on Slideshare, Youtube, LinkedIn, and such) is covered by a Creative Commons license.

There are some exceptions. We have created content for many publishers who retain the rights to their publications. For these, you would follow generally-accepted guidelines for using copyrighted material.

Christopher’s books

The Responsibility Process book and Teamwork Is An Individual Skill are covered by international copyright laws.

If you wish to quote or excerpt The Responsibility Process book beyond what copyright law allows, contact us to request permission.

If you wish to quote or excerpt Teamwork Is An Individual Skill beyond what copyright law allows, contact its publisher, Berrett-Koehler.

Proprietary materials

All materials for workshops, seminars, training, and online programs are copyright protected. These materials are for the personal use of the participant only and may not be copied, cited, or distributed.

An exception to this is for Certified Responsibility Workshop Leaders. People in this group have access to proprietary materials for the workshops they are certified to lead.

That’s it for intellectual property. Now let’s turn to some ideas we can offer you to help your students.

Teaching guidelines

There is no one right way to teach Responsibility. We suggest that you create your own presentation based on your understanding.

And, if you are looking for outlines, search on “The Responsibility Process” or “Responsibility Process Avery”. You’ll find lots.

Here’s one of my favorites.

Here’s what we’ve learned about teaching Responsibility:

  • Own your level of expertise. Be transparent about the depth of your own understanding and practice.
  • Start teaching before you are ready. If you wait until you are living in Responsibility all of the time, you’ll never teach it.
  • Be light. It’s a heavy subject – if you come in with “Thou shalt take Responsibility” you will lose your audience.
  • Avoid preaching right/wrong, good/bad, or should/shouldn’t. Simply share and teach how the mind works.
  • Use yourself as the example for each coping state. Since your mind goes to Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, Obligation, and Quit every day, you have lots of material. Poking fun at yourself gives your audience permission to acknowledge their mental states.
  • Respect the integrity of the material. If you want to teach The Responsibility Process and related material, then please don’t alter it.

And here’s the most important observation:

You can teach Responsibility only to the extent that you have integrated it into your life.

And if you want to integrate it faster, teach it. It’s a recursive dynamic.

Those are our best teaching guidelines. Employ them, and see how they work.

Now let’s provide some next steps for you and your students.

Direct your clients and students to Responsibility resources

Encourage your students to develop their own Responsibility-thinking practice. Let them know that we  — The Responsibility Company — are here to support them. We provide tons of complimentary content, tools, and many free email series.

Send your charges to to explore for themselves. More specifically, they can:

When your charges come to the official source for Responsibility, you invite us to help you help them.

How can we better support you?

Thank you for reading this. We’ll take a continuous improvement approach to expanding it. To that end, we want to know two things:

  • We want to know the value of this guide to you as the teacher or coach.
  • Tell us what change we can experiment with that will produce significantly more value for you or others.

To address these questions, send me an email.

To your freedom, choice, and power.
Christopher Avery and The Responsibility Company team

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Responsibility Answers: Is Giving Negative Feedback Blaming?

“Check your feedback and ask, are you coming from a place of making the other person either good or bad or right or wrong? Then you’re giving criticism, not feedback.”

Responsibility Answers

Is Giving Negative Feedback Blaming?

Thank you to Ed, for an excellent question. Ed writes “If I give someone negative feedback, is that laying blame?”

We’re presented with many opportunities to give feedback, so this is an excellent opportunity to practice Responsibility. First of all, Ed, if it feels blame-y or shame-y, it probably is. If the receiver of the feedback feels blamed by your feedback, there’s a good chance that it isn’t really feedback – it’s probably criticism.

What’s the difference between feedback and criticism? We’re going to get into that. I’m going to give you tips that I use to give Responsible feedback. There are three important aspects of giving Responsible feedback: get permission, show up with pre-approval, and give feedback instead of criticism.

Let’s start with feedback versus criticism.

The idea of feedback actually comes from information science. It has to do with sending a tiny signal back to the origin of the information, the person, that allows them to make a change or stay status quo.

Criticism comes from judgment about the person or what they did. Criticism always comes from good, bad, right, and wrong. You and I have grown up in a critical society, so we’re really good at criticizing. We’re good at being judgmental.

So simply check your feedback and ask, are you coming from a place of making the other person either good or bad or right or wrong? Are you coming from a place of making what the other person did good or bad or right or wrong? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then you’re giving criticism, not feedback.

Instead, simply tell the other person how what they did landed on you.

What did you like about it? What did you not like? What surprised you? What did you learn? What did you appreciate? What didn’t land well on you?

You can do this from truthfulness with compassion. Even negative feedback can be received well because you’re not making it about the other person. You’re making it about how what they did landed on you and went through your filters.

My next guideline is to get permission. 

One of the things that we learned in our studies of Responsibility is that unwanted help is received as abuse.

Imagine a parent or an adult leaning over a six-year-old at the table and cutting up their meat and their vegetables for them and the six-year-old goes, “Get out of here.” If it didn’t start with, “Honey, can I cut your meat and vegetables for you,” it was unwanted help. It’s received as abuse.

If you want to give feedback, get permission.

There are many ways to get permission. You can have ongoing permission, you can get permission in the moment. If someone asks you for feedback, you can say, “Are you absolutely sure, and specifically, what do you want me to look at? I’d be happy to.”

My last guideline is to do it with pre-approval.

In fact, in most of the guidance that you give to others, do it with pre-approval. Pre-approval of them as a human, pre-approval knowing that they are always doing the best they know, given the circumstances and their mental state.

That means you can trust them to take advantage of the information that you have to give them. When you give pre-approval, you also create much higher levels of safety for them, making it easier for them to receive what you offer.

So here’s an example of giving Responsible feedback. 

Let’s say someone gave a presentation, asked you to attend, and give them feedback. Beautiful. Number one, are you showing up with pre-approval?

Remember that humans are always doing their best given their level of consciousness at that moment, in that situation. So you’re not there to correct them as a human being. You’re there to approve of them as a human being.

Permission. Even though they asked you for permission, double-check. Are you sure? Or is there anything specifically that you want my input about?

Finally, feedback versus criticism. Instead of I thought this was good, I thought that was bad, right, wrong, you should never do this, you should always do this, that’s all opinion. And it’s all biased. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to use “I statements” so that you own your feedback to them.

Here’s some feedback that you might give.

“I thought you took on a bold challenge. I also thought that you looked really confident and in charge of yourself in the presentation. However, I didn’t follow your argument on Slides Five and Six. I’m not sure if management will buy your proposal based on those arguments.

“I may not be your target audience for those points, but if you think I am, or if you think I can help, I’d be happy to work with you a little bit to make sure that the points you’re making on those slides really drive home what it is that you want.

“Is there anything else that you’d like feedback from me on?”

So there’s an example for feedback.

In closing, feedback always honors the ability of another to make their own choices about what they do with the information you give them.

It usually comes from compassion and empathy and from your own truth told with compassion. And it rarely comes from judgments of right and wrong or good or bad, which we know is criticism.

So here’s something you can do today. 

Catch yourself thinking a critical thought about what someone else is doing. See if you can turn that into a neutral observation as if you were trying to tell them how what they did landed on you.

I thought this, I liked this, I appreciated this, I didn’t appreciate this, I found it hard to accept this.

You can use this as an exercise for yourself, or you can get permission, show up with pre-approval, and turn that observation into some feedback for them.


Send all your questions to I look forward to hearing from you.

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Introducing: The Leadership Scorecard Self-Assessment

“In each of these categories, you’ll see that the statement on the left aligns with a  stuck, coping, suppressed, burdened mindset. The statement on the right aligns with being free, powerful, and at choice.”

Introducing: The Leadership Scorecard Self-Assessment

We’d like to introduce you to a feature linked from our homepage, the Leadership Scorecard Self-Assessment tool.

The self-assessment can be helpful in identifying sticking points and can act as a benchmark for your future progress. No opt-in is required to take the assessment, and we encourage you to share it with friends and colleagues – and compare your results.

(Note: The video above is more engaging than the text below, even though the words are the same. Even if you prefer reading, you might want to watch the video this time.)

If you start on our homepage, you’ll see a button near the top that says “assess yourself with the leadership scorecard.” That button will take you to the self-assessment.

The assessment consists of ten sets of paired statements. You’ll be ranking how true each statement is for you, right now. We’ll use the first one as an example.

On the left, you’ll see “much of what’s required of me feels off purpose and uninspiring.” If that’s true, then you would choose the one button on the left. On the right, we have “I generally feel on purpose and inspired about leading myself and others.” If that’s true, if that is your complete reality, then you would choose 10.

For most of us, the answer is somewhere in between. Choose what represents your reality. There are no right or wrong answers.

The more honest you are, the more you can learn from this assessment.

In each of these categories, you’ll see that the statement on the left aligns with a  stuck, coping, suppressed, burdened mindset. The statement on the right aligns with being free, powerful, and at choice.

We help people move from the mindset on the left to the one on the right. That’s our mission at the Responsibility Company.

When you’ve rated all ten statements, click “see your report” and you’ll be taken to the report page.  At the top of the page, we list your statistics and how you compare them to other items in the database. You’ll see your scorecard there.

We go into a detailed assessment of how you can use this tool to examine where you want to take more ownership of your mind and your life. We go into the relationship between Responsibility and self-leadership.

Why am I not showing you that report? Well, that’d take all the fun away from you seeing it for yourself. So I invite you to try it and invite your friends to try it.

Take the Leadership Scorecard Self Assessment.

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Tools and resources I like, Happy New Year 2022

Tools and resources I like

Happy New Year

As I wrote in – 2021 Year in Review – I set an intention to share some of the resources and tools that I use in everyday life. That’s what this post is about – a few choices of a Responsibility-teacher of 29 years.

The topic is an experiment that I hope is of value. If it is, I’ll consider repeating it annually.

You will find 27 links to books, apps, and tools that you may find valuable. Where relevant, I explore how that item can support your Responsibility-thinking practice.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It is 2000 words and takes 10 minutes to read. Hopefully, 10 minutes of inspiration and value. It’ also in sections, so you can scan and read it in parts.)

Reading for fun

Until recently, I wasn’t much of a pleasure reader. For most of my life, the bulk of my reading (or listening, thank you) ​has been for learning.

Earlier this year, I decided to dip into reading for pleasure.

A self-proclaimed crazy man named Ron recommended Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta. For context, Ron is a former professor from my PH.D. program and a friend across the decades. He was also my first mentor for the speaking and workshop business.

Ron tows his “Airstream of Consciousness” from the Baja beaches of Mexico in the winter to the mountains of Colorado in the summer — and perfect seasonal points in-between. So when Ron posted on Facebook that Dispatches from Pluto is the only book he would buy and read multiple times, I felt inspired to see what thrilled him so.

The author, Richard Grant, is a hilarious observer of the human condition, and he happens to do it as a travel writer. I went on to devour God’s Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre and Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa.

Thank you, Crazy Ron.

I’m now reading In a Sunburned Country (about Australia) by Bill Bryson. Bryson is also an endlessly witty observer of people and their places. I think there will be more of Bill Bryson’s travel adventures for me in 2022.

It looks like pleasure reading may become a happy habit.

Reading for growth

For decades I have read for ideas and tools – and in my twenties and thirties, for scholarly advancement.

Today I read for wisdom, awareness, and consciousness growth.

In recent years, I’ve been intrigued with metaphysics, which means “beyond the physical.” After applying the three Keys to Responsibility (Intention, Awareness, and Confront) for years, it became clear that much is happening beyond the physical, that is, beyond Newtonian principles of cause-and-effect.

This year I reread (and listened to, while hiking or driving) Power Versus Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by Nobel collaborator David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. I first read it perhaps fifteen years ago and considered it the most formative book ever.

It still is.

Why? After experiencing enlightenment (a rare occurrence), Hawkins developed a research-based paradigm that includes science and spirituality, usually separate paradigms.

He equates spirituality with consciousness. (And I am in the consciousness-raising business.)

The centerpiece of his work is the Map of Consciousness. Using this map, you can calibrate everything (and everybody) on a scale from 1 to 1000.

Where one calibrates determines how one experiences life. Since we define Responsibility as “owning one’s ability and power to create, choose, and attract” the Map of Consciousness helps me understand how I am creating, choosing, and attracting my reality — the parts I like and the parts I don’t.

The higher the calibration, the more aligned with truth, and thus more powerful. BuddhaKrishnaBrahmanZoroaster, and Jesus all calibrate at 1000.

Power Versus Force is the first book in a trilogy (and it is not an easy read). I wasn’t ready to confront the other two books until this year. I’m thrilled that I’ve nearly finished The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden.

In January, I’ll begin reading (and listening to) I: Reality and Subjectivity.

One other audiobook I consumed this year is The Grand Biocentric Design: How Life Creates Reality, by physicist Robert Lanza, M.D., a man with an impressive bio. This book continues to document evidence from quantum physics that the universe is a function of consciousness (and not vice versa, as commonly thought).

It’s a mind-blower.

Elegant tools

Each day there are more tool choices than the day before. Here are three simple tools that help me manage life.

I lean on Apple Reminders, an app native to Mac OS and IOS. Yes, a simple reminder app, and I use it hourly.

Since I operate in the Apple ecosystem, I choose this native app to remind me of repeating activities (“change the furnace filter”). It works with iCloud, so the reminders appear across all of my devices.

That’s key.

(I’m not recommending Apple Reminder over other reminder apps. There are lots of reminder apps for every operating system. I assume many of them will work across all of your devices.)

Reminder apps support Responsibility-thinking

As participants in Responsibility Immersion continually seek tools and resources for practicing Responsibility-thinking, I now suggest the use of reminder apps. For instance, every hour, your app could ask you, “What is your attention/awareness on right now?” Then you could check to see if you are upset and experiencing Lay Blame, Justify, or another coping mechanism.

If you want to remind yourself of particular intentions (for instance, “be bold”), you could set a daily reminder.

I have a half-dozen reminders for specific intentions around Responsibility. Here’s one that reminds me each morning to face challenges.


You can gamify reminders

I set them to pop up early in the day. If I am feeling as the reminder says – that is, in the case of the Helen Keller quote above, if I feel like life is a daring adventure – then I click on “complete,” and that reminder goes away until the next day.

However, if I don’t feel that way, then I click on “remind me in an hour.” For instance, if the Helen Keller quote pops up and I’m feeling victimized, bored, or like life is unfair, then I’ll click “remind me in an hour.”

It’s a win when the reminder comes back later and I realize that I’ve corrected my mental state, so I dismiss the reminder until tomorrow.

One final thought about reminders. If you appreciate affirmations – self-affirming statements – reminder apps can make your affirmations come alive by showing up at whatever frequency you set.

Other valuable tools

The aptly named World Time Buddy is my friend. It makes it easy to coordinate meetings across time zones.


Making useful agreements, and keeping them is a sign of owning your agreements. Time agreements are the nursery school of all agreements. If you want to know what time it will be on the other side of the world at a future date and time for you, World Time Buddy has you covered.

The final tool I’ll highlight is Insight Timer, a meditation app for IOS and Android. The free version offers you over 100,000 guided meditations, calming stories, and sleep music.

insight timer

I use it every day.

How does meditation support Responsibility? It supports consciousness growth with inner peace and clarity — it moves you toward freedom, choice, and power.

I like the app and the company behind it enough that I subscribed to the premium version even though the free version provided everything I required. I simply wanted to support the company.

I hope at least one of these resources or ideas adds value to your life.

Looking forward

The Responsibility Company and I continue to build on the serve-first principles we’ve adopted. Here are a few of the things to which you can look forward.

Soon, you’ll find an engaging leadership self-assessment on our website, hopefully sometime in the first quarter. You will also see new content designed to support individuals, coaches, agilists, and leaders in practicing and even teaching Responsibility.

If raising your consciousness, doing your “inside” work, and taking charge of your life is on your to-do list for 2022, the next Responsibility Immersion may interest you. It starts on 9 February 2022.

Also, look for us to announce one or more virtual workshop deliveries. We shut these down in 2021 and look forward to reopening them.

You can also expect more valuable free email series as well as paid email courses.

On behalf of my amazing teammates at The Responsibility Company, I wish you a New Year full of freedom, power, joy, growth, and love.

P.S. I made no New Years’ resolutions.

Why? I’ll tell you.

First, I’ll tell you about an annual New Years’ ritual that I did participate in again. It’s the Burning Bowl ritual. It goes back centuries at least, maybe eons.

In this ritual, you write on a piece of paper things from the past year that you are willing and ready to let go of and leave behind you. Then you shred or wad up the paper and burn it.

If you want to learn more, there is not one derivative source, buts lots of sources, so here’s a search.

There are several reasons I no longer make New Years’ resolutions. They all stem from discovering powerful truths through developing my powers of Intention, Awareness, and Confront.

Years ago I adopted the belief that each day is the first day of the rest of my life. That means I no longer depend on this week, month, quarter, or year to end so I can “turn the page.”

I realized that I can and do make resolutions anytime I’m inspired to make a change.

Finally, I never make goals, commitments, or resolutions out of Shame or Obligation (for instance, “I really should get in shape”). I found those never work.


Such goals do not represent my authentic and unique genius and inspiration. They come from anxieties such as seeking approval, not fitting in, or not being good enough. And that means while I think I should — or even have to — I don’t really want to.

So, if you are wondering whether you should do something – like, “set a goal for XYZ” – my suggestion is this: Don’t do it until you truly want to.

Think about it.

Try us

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2021 Year in Review

2021 Year in Review

“Fall seven times, get up eight”

Welcome to our first year-in-review.

(If it is valuable, maybe it will become an annual thing.)

Why am I doing this?

It’s been a unique year, strategically and tactically. I want to review our plans and accomplishments as well as some of our many stumbles. And I want to do it in front of you.

You are our reason for serving.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It’s about 2300 words and takes 12 minutes to read. Hopefully, 12 minutes of value and entertainment.)

An apparent Japanese proverb says “Fall seven times, get up eight.” This proverb lends a Responsibility-thinking theme to our 2021 review.

2021’s path was set in late 2020

As it did for so many businesses, the pandemic gave us lots of opportunity in 2020 to ask ourselves what we are doing and why, repeatedly. All the fun and easy speaking gigs had dried up. The glitz of international travel was gone.

The pivot to selling virtually-delivered workshops was challenging (read: no fun). In fact, after making substantial investments in marketing virtual public workshops – which at first were successful, and then registrations dwindled – we stopped.

Yet, we believed the world could use the value we offer more than ever.

So, we chose to put our efforts into creating value for the entire Responsibility Community.

Late in 2020 we stumbled across an ultra-high-integrity approach to email marketing from Tiny Little Businesses. We loved it and dove in, reading all their free content, taking some of their courses, and implementing some of the plays in their playbook.

In December 2020 we made a public commitment. We announced The Pivot to a new way of providing value. We also then announced our Declaration of Intention.

(Talk about falling down and getting up. We’re a thirty-year-old company falling down again, and getting up again.)

Our new commitment is to be a serve-first operation.

What does serve-first look like?

We didn’t exactly know what this serve-first approach would look like for us.

(It looked great on the Tiny Little Businesses website and in their content, but we were miles behind in understanding and executing. And, we were facing a total makeover.)

We knew it meant writing.

Writing lots of content, much of it in the form of free email series. These email series are multi-day guided adventures in some aspect of Responsibility-thinking that our community members can choose to take. More about these series below.

We also knew that it meant operating at the highest level of humanity, respect, and integrity regarding what we do with your email address and how we speak to you. So we tightened up our policies and our CRM settings. We removed a lot of unengaged followers from our email list.

And we set out to create content that you want to open, read, and yes, click.

We already had two vlog series that you like (according to the high open and click rate, and your feedback and questions). We chose to continue these at the beginning of 2021.

We produced the following in the first few months:

And then we fell silent.

Life happened

You didn’t get anything from us for nearly three months in late Spring and Summer. Why?

A long-standing cyclical health issue flared and I had limited inspiration, focus, and creativity. My teammate Joseph Thomas and I kept collaborating as we were able on the new strategy. He carried me in terms of remaining inspired and committed.

We just weren’t producing vlogs or email broadcasts.

Finally, I felt alive enough to get back in the saddle.

(Fall seven times, get up eight.)

I wrote the long-form newsletter turned blog post Be Bigger Than Any Problem. In that piece I confessed my health issue and shared my personal philosophy of being bigger than any problem.

(Note: Since all problems are conceived and defined in the mind, you get to determine how big – or small – a problem is.

I can’t think of a more attention-sucking problem in my life than this one. Yet, I am at peace with it. I am not my body’s illness. However, it is mine to own.

It’s been an amazing spiritual journey. I have more gratitude and joy for life than ever. And I have tremendous compassion for myself, especially when I don’t feel well.

I am very easy on myself.

Nor have I given in to the pesky condition. I intend to be healed, whole, and healthy. I surround myself with a carefully chosen wellness team and friends who support me completely.)

From there we produced a long-form newsletter that contains some newish thinking about how to explain coping below the line versus growing above the line. We turned that newsletter into a blog post called Respond or React.

We followed with the vlog Responsibility Answers: How do I say no?, the vlog Space: Be, Do, Have (on the three conditions of existence and how we use them in our thinking and language), and the long-form newsletter turned blog post Breaking Up Well.

You seemed to acknowledge this new approach with higher open and click rates, lower opt-outs and spam complaints (which were already very low), and more questions.

Thank you. That’s rewarding.

Many more vlogs exist in the Space series and in the Responsibility Answers series. It’s fun to go to the Resources page and click the Responsibility Answers tab to see the various questions. You can do the same with the Space tab.

Meanwhile, collaborating in the background, quiet as mice

We remained fascinated with the serve-first approach to marketing and have only begun to scratch the surface of what we are learning. We would study a little, fumble around with what that meant for us in terms of planning and execution, and then create a little.

(Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.)

We have lived at the edge of our comfort zone all year. This type of significant change is confronting.

And, we know that there is no effective change without disturbance.

Are there results that matter?


For our first project we iterated on our already-existing 2020 email series turned blog post called Responsibility Immersion Why and Who. It became a longer and more valuable email series. We renamed it Responsibility Immersion What, Why, and Who.

That series is now available 24/7/365 from the Responsibility Immersion page.

In part, this new series contributed last summer and fall to one of the easiest and most stress-free recruitment and registration periods ever for Responsibility Immersion. This was gratifying, happening so close to the beginning of our serve-first journey.

Next, we undertook a huge (in hindsight) project with a high degree of uncertainty and complexity. We felt the potential value and learning curve were worth it.

That project was to create a 6-week email course product (supported with live group mentoring Zooms and a Slack space) titled Launching Your Responsibility-Thinking Practice. The project includes all the operational and promotional pieces around it.

This product meets a long-standing intention to offer an entry-level self-study product for busy professionals who have never heard of The Responsibility Process and who want to take charge of their lives.

It’s also part of a social media advertising play to reach every free corner of the globe. We followed a framework we learned from Tiny Little Businesses Momentum Builder Workshop.

And because it is a paid advertising play — and we have no competency in that area — we wanted help from some experts.

It was a good thing that we had been talking with Shore360 for a couple of years about helping us with various activities. Their digital marketing group – ShoreDigital – stepped right up and immediately demonstrated competency. They understood our flows, set up tracking and analytics, and developed a plan for low-cost learning. This way we could spend just a few hundred dollars at a time on advertising and learn what part of the flow was working well and what part required improvement.

It’s been an excellent experience with Shore Digital. They are part of the team now.

(It reminds me of an old partnering principle: Start early. That means start building relationships before you need them.)

As part of the flow we also created a free 4-day email series to introduce the email course. The free series is called Responsibility-Thinking: From Coping to Growing.

We continue testing and iterating both the email course and the free email series. We’ll have more news about these in the Spring.

Lastly, we developed a 4-day Welcome email series for newcomers to the Responsibility Community. The purpose of this series is to build relationships with new community members.

(Start early.)

The Welcome series introduces the Responsibility Community, The Responsibility Process®, The Responsibility Company, and provides a summary of Responsibility-thinking products and services.

This just in

A serve-first approach calls for less click-bait and ethical bribes (that is, freebies in exchange for your email address so we can immediately send you “buy now” emails). So we are starting to evolve this site to reflect this.

In just the last week we have altered the Resources section to eliminate all the ethical bribes. Some of these will reappear as free email series adventures.

And that means we no longer require an email address in exchange for downloading The Responsibility Process poster. We are busily converting all 27 language translations into our new branding. Many are already done and available as an immediate, unprotected, download.

We’re also adding version information in the footer and switching to the three-letter ISO code for country-name in the filename and version statement.

We hope and assume all of this makes it more convenient for you to grab a current poster PDF. It might also be easier to tell a friend about downloading the poster if you know they don’t have to opt in.

If all of these changes are in a positive direction for you, then I think you have more goodness to look forward to.

Looking forward

What’s going to be new and different?

Responsibility Immersion — now in its third year — continues to grow and delight participants as they consciously transform their lives. More on that below.

We’ve only just begun understanding and implementing this new all-encompassing and all-consuming serve-first approach. There are so many distinctions and nuances.

We continue to explore and learn new competencies. We are beginning to see new rhythms emerge.

So, we will continue.

I can only imagine where we’ll be with it a year from now.

I think you can expect more website changes as we re-imagine the customer journey and guide visitors to find valuable information and adventures.

You can certainly expect more free email adventures. We’ve already conceived of more than we know how to prioritize. But you might expect an email series or two around our usual themes of

  • Change and Responsibility,
  • Leadership (and Responsibility),
  • Teamwork,
  • Agility, and
  • Teaching Responsibility

And maybe another email course or two. Who knows?

I hope all of this is worth staying around for.

More delights

The phone started ringing (well, emails started arriving) around March 2021 with requests for virtual keynotes and mentoring. I’ve done a bunch of virtual keynotes for audiences worldwide this year to excellent reviews and participant feedback. I also supported a number of mentoring clients to take charge of their lives by breaking through pesky problems.

I accepted a challenge to support the senior executive leadership team in a global business to come together as a team in this “post”-pandemic environment.

(I’m not sure we are past the pandemic at this point.)

Yes, I’m flying to support clients again after eighteen months of not stepping foot in an airport.

And, I’ve enjoyed being interviewed for a number of podcasts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year-in-review. It was therapeutic for me to retrospect.

What have I learned?

Now, a year into this serve-first journey, I have at least one meaningful answer to the question “What does serve-first look like?

It looks like repeatedly catching ourselves being self-serving (which I have a long pattern of indulging in: Hey, here’s what’s great about us and Responsibility! Click now!) and stopping. Then asking the question “What would the Responsibility Community find valuable?” And a few more probing questions:

  • Is this really valuable for our audience? Why?
  • How can this be about them instead of about us?
  • Why would they want to read this?

Dozens of times I would be pairing with Joseph Thomas on a piece of content and discover that we were unconsciously following our pre-pivot scripts (Look at us and our products. Aren’t we cool?!). While each catch was momentarily frustrating and humbling, we simply applied the Catch Sooner game to re-orient ourselves.

What’s Catch Sooner?

Catch Sooner is one of the three Responsibility-thinking tools featured in The Responsibility Process book. Find a brief overview of it from either of these vlogs:

Whatever you want to take ownership of and change, the Catch Sooner game will support you.

Until next time.

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Responsibility Answers: How do I get What I Want in Family Relationships

“The truth in dealing with relationships is that none of us are any good at changing other people. We can believe that they should be different. We can try to make them different, but they don’t have to comply.”

Responsibility Answers

How do I get What I Want From Family Relationships?

Helen asked, “Christopher, how can I get my sister to clean up the kitchen?” She went on to explain that she asks her sister nicely, her sister says, “I’ll do it later,” and goes to her room. When Helen more loudly nags, or tells the sister she’s not doing it, then mom comes and does it for her. Helen says mom should be resting.

I could clearly see, from Helen’s email. that she was coping below the line, although she was trying to say it very nicely. The issue is that her problem was her sister, which is below the line on The Responsibility Process® chart.

I didn’t just give Helen advice at this point. I emailed her back, and I asked “If you could have it the way you wanted it, what would that look like? Describe it to me.”

Helen described a list of duties and behaviors that her sister would take on, and that her mom would be able rest and be more relaxed.

I still wasn’t seeing exact Responsibility Thinking, because she was still looking at what she wanted to solve outside of her.

I wrote her back one more time and I said, “Fabulous list. Now, what do you want for yourself in this situation? What would it look like for you? What would you be experiencing?”

Helen wrote back and talked about the clean house, and the peace and calm, and the people keeping agreements that she’d be experiencing. Now, I had something to work with. So I wrote back to her, and I made the following points.

The truth in dealing with relationships is that none of us are any good at changing other people. We can believe that they should be different. We can try to make them different, but they don’t have to comply.

They may not comply.

The first place we start in relationships is realizing that we don’t always get what we want from others. It’s up to us to make sure that our own wants and needs are met in that situation.

However, there are things you can do to encourage change from others. You can very clearly ask. You can shower them with love and kindness, not niceness. You can make and keep agreements.

You can shore up your own boundaries. If you do a little examining, you might find that you’ve allowed your own boundaries to be loose and slippery, and now you’re feeling a little violated. So you can re-shore those up.

What I put in place here, what I wanted to walk Helen through, are the keys to Responsibility.

There’s intention, which is understanding what you want. In this case, understanding what you want that you’re not getting. Agreements aren’t being kept & the kitchen isn’t being cleaned.

There’s awareness, identifying where you are in The Responsibility Process.

Then there’s confront, meaning to actually examine your own thinking, examine your own thoughts, and assumptions. Am I shoulding on somebody? Is there some truth I’m not seeing? What can I change in order to get more of what I want?

That’s my thinking about how to get more of what you want in relationships.

Here’s something you can do today.

Think of one relationship that’s on your mind where you’re not getting what you want in that relationship – and apply the three keys.

Intention: what do you want for yourself, not what do you want them to do to change. What do you want for yourself in this relationship?

Awareness: where are you in The Responsibility Process around this relationship? How can you get yourself to the mental state of Responsibility?

In the mental state of Responsibility you can more cleanly and clearly ask for what you want, or negotiate for what you want, or more cleanly set your boundaries.

Finally, what is there that you get to confront in your own thinking about why this situation is persisting? What would change in you, in order for this situation to get better for you, for you to be lighter about this relationship?

Send all your questions to I look forward to hearing from you.

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Breaking Up Well

Breaking Up Well

End with the beginning in mind

In two recent mentoring sessions, the stuck spot each client was chewing on was whether to end a relationship and if so, how.

Many don’t know how to end relationships well, whether it’s an employment relationship, a personal one, or a business contract. Responsibility-thinking helps tremendously.

(This post began as an email broadcast to the Responsibility Community. It is 850 words and takes less than 5 minutes.)

I first wrote about breaking up well over twenty years ago in a short section that appeared in Teamwork Is an Individual Skill. I thought it would be fun and valuable to include a portion of that section below, along with my comments (comments are in parentheses and italicized) twenty years later.

### Start of the book excerpt ###

End With The Beginning In Mind in Personal and Business Relationships

I don’t know why people seldom end relationships well.

(I understand more now. It’s because our anxiety triggers The Responsibility Process®, and then we operate from one or more of the coping states instead of taking 100% Responsibility for breaking up well.)

Maybe it’s because we all want so much to win — and endings threaten us with losing.

Maybe we’re annoyed that we don’t know how to derive any more mutual benefit from a partnership.

Maybe we’re embarrassed about promises we implied and haven’t kept.

Maybe we’re upset that another didn’t live up to our expectations.

(Mostly, we don’t know how to identify our feelings as the coping states of Lay Blame, Justify, Shame. Quit, or Obligation, and then get ourselves to the mental state of Responsibility. In Responsibility we can more clearly see what we want about this situation and how to handle it with humanity and integrity.)

For whatever reasons, when collaborations or partnerships cease to serve us, most of us start jockeying for position, politicking, and blaming our circumstances on our partners.

Sometimes endings even explode into battles. To describe it analytically, we might say that collaborative behavior diminishes — and positioning behavior accelerates — as the outer edge of a contract’s time horizon comes into focus.

No matter how lucrative the venture may have been for both parties, by the time the end actually comes, it’s common for one or both parties to want to get far away from the other. Counselors sometimes describe bad endings this way: We don’t break up because we’re fighting; we fight because we’re breaking up.

(Some context: When I wrote this section I was working with semiconductor industry companies to understand supply chain partnering — the practice of building trusting relationships at the boundaries so the parties can operate at “the speed of trust”, as Steven M.R. Covey later popularized in his book, The Speed of Trust.

One of many profound lessons from my study of partnering was that successful partners separate business negotiations (which can have a win-lose feel) from conversations about partnering together for mutual gain (which will have a win-win feel).)

I won’t pretend we can do much to avoid endings. They’re as inevitable as beginnings.

But I have observed that we can improve the quality of endings by resisting three emotional traps:

  • Unnecessarily burning bridges
  • Harming one’s own reputation
  • Bringing inhumanity to oneself and others

In my experience, we can expand our responsibility around ending relationships by taking the following actions during endings:

  • Approach the end of a collaboration with the beginning in mind — recall the most vivid memory possible of the positive intentions and positive results the partnership produced.
  • Thank your partner(s) for the opportunity, results, and trust they provided you.
  • Acknowledge BOTH that you don’t see an immediate future that motivates you to continue investing in the relationship AND, that this is NOT a reason for either party to stoop to irresponsible behavior.
  • Negotiate fairly and compassionately during the dismantling of infrastructure and the redistribution of responsibilities. Pay your fair share or more of these expenses. If you believe that either party may feel threatened, engage a facilitator to keep you responsible.
  • If the other party exhibits difficult end-game behavior, show compassion and strive for resolution by de-escalating rather than escalating.

### End of the book excerpt ###

These ideas apply to personal as well as professional relationships.

(And, it’s all personal.

Speaking of personal, so many songs came to mind while preparing this. One was my favorite Jimmy Durante jingle, Did You Ever Have the Feeling.

Then there are myriad breakup songs:

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon. I also like Miley Cyrus’s version.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, recorded by Neil Sedaka.

And with a hat-tip to the Durante theme, Should I Stay or Should I Go, by The Clash.)

Oftentimes we remain in a relationship (especially in employment situations and personal partnerships) because we don’t realize — or know how — to step into our power and free ourselves. We stay physically, and we disengage emotionally.

This is the coping state of Quit.

Quit is the mental state defined as giving up to avoid the pain of Shame and the burden of Obligation. You can see this on The Responsibility Process poster.

Let’s look at the employment situation

I’m often asked, “If I quit a job, is that Quit?” The answer is “maybe.”

If you leave with unfinished business so that you carry it with you and revisit it with “what if” and “if only” thoughts, then that’s likely coping in Quit.

To leave with Responsibility, finish your business so you don’t carry it with you. Clean up any residue, first within you, then between you (if called for) so you are complete emotionally.

As mentioned above, I’m more concerned with your physically staying and emotionally quitting.

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Space: Be, Do, Have

“Between stimulus and response is a space.
In that space is the freedom and power to choose.”

-Steven Covey


Be, Do, Have

You are a human being, and yet we have so much focus on human doing.

You’ve heard me say before that when things go wrong, we’ve been taught to ask the question, “What should I do? What’s the right answer?”

I’ve learned is that those questions map to Shame and Obligation on The Responsibility Process®.

Those questions actually keep us from producing amazing results and keep us from freedom, choice, and power.

A better question to ask is, “What do I want? Or, what do we want?”

So, “Oh, team, look at this mess we’re in. Let’s stop Blaming and Justifying, and ask ourselves, what do we want about this?”

That question actually gets us to more of a genius place in our minds where we can access our inspiration, reasoning and our abilities.

I’m reminded of an old equation that I learned years ago.

The three conditions of existence, the things that have our attention on a moment to moment basis are be, do, and have – beingness, doingness, and havingness.

My culture, Western culture, taught me to think in terms of an equation that puts do first and be last. It goes something like this.

If I can just do smarter, do more certifications or degrees, if I can do faster, if I can do more hours, then I’ll have success and then I’ll be happy.

There’s just one issue with that.

We’re only as good as our next achievement, which means that we’re never good enough in that equation and in that scenario.

That’s human doing. That’s not human being.

The wisdom literature, the spiritual literature, sometimes the Eastern philosophies teach us to look at these three conditions a little bit differently.

They say, “Know yourself. Understand who you are.” So let’s start with being.

Do you know what your integrity is? Do you know what your authenticity is? Do you know what your heart is? Do you know what your values are? Do you know what your boundaries are?

If so, then you’re doingness will emanate from that. And it can only be perfect, perfect given the antecedent conditions.

You’re willing to learn and grow, which means you’re willing to have the results that come from that, and then you can use that as input to understanding more about who you are.

Studies have shown that when people ask you to point at yourself, you don’t point at your head. You point at your heart. You point at your heart, which means that this beingness is pretty darn important.

Here’s something you can do today.

Remember, every time you hear the word human or human being, remember to check in and ask yourself, who am I?

Who am I today? And is my doingness in line with that?

You can find lots more resources on our website.

Send all of your questions to me at I look forward to hearing from you.

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Responsibility Answers: How do I say no?

So, you’ve caught yourself in a situation where you want to say, “No,” and for some reason you feel like you can’t, or shouldn’t.

Responsibility Answers

How do I say no?

Somebody wrote in and asked, “Christopher, how do I say no?” Great question.

Anytime that we ask the question, “How do I take responsibility for X,” there’s a few steps to finding the answer.

The first step is always realize that I am in some way, choosing, creating, or attracting the situation.

I’m not a victim of a boss, or a spouse, or somebody else putting me in a corner.

I chose this relationship, and it’s up to me to have yes and no, both be allowable answers.

I’ve heard it said that if yes is the only acceptable answer, then yes isn’t meaningful.

So from early on in relationships, I make sure that I’m allowed, within that relationship, to say yes to requests and also to say no to requests.

That’s one thing to think about.

The next step is to ask “What do I want?”

So, you’ve caught yourself in a situation where you want to say, “No,” and for some reason you feel like you can’t, or shouldn’t.

So what do I want? What do I want in this situation?

Well, I want to say, “No,” but I also want their approval.

So often our saying “Yes,” when we mean no is because we are seeking approval. We don’t want to be disapproved of by boss, teammates, spouse, child, parent, etc.

So then, what do I want?

Well, I both want their approval and I want to say, “No.” So how do I get that?

Well, there’s a thousand ways to get that.

Say, “No,” with love. Say, “No,” with compassion. Tell the truth.

I’ll just leave you with this one last thing.

Don’t justify it. Don’t say, “Oh gosh, I’d really like to say yes, except time, money, effort, whatever.”

Don’t justify it. Own your no.

I hope that you find this useful. Let me know. You’ll find more Responsibility Answers on our resources page.

Send all your questions to me at

To your freedom, choice and power, and all my love. Take care.

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Respond or React?

Respond or React?

Speaking with Deliberate Intention

As Responsibility-thinking — or Responsibility-consciousness — gains popularity, and as more and more of our students are out there in the world, I often get one piece of delightfully positive feedback from others. They say something like this:

“Christopher, I can recognize when meeting someone if they have gone through Responsibility Immersion: They speak with such deliberate intention.

When this happens I ask ‘You practice Responsibility, don’t you?’ And they smile and nod ‘Yes'”

(This post began as an email broadcast. It is around 780 words and takes the average reader 6 minutes.)

Where do the deliberately intentional speech and behavior come from in a Responsibility-thinker?

They come from the space between stimulus and response.

(Stay with me.

I know I’ve written and made videos about this before. I think you will find something here that you haven’t seen unless you’ve been in a workshop with me in the last year.)

I would love your help correcting a widespread misattribution. Quote sites around the internet attribute this quote to Viktor Frankl:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Except Viktor Frankl did not write it. Steven Covey said it.

I myself misattributed it for many years. Then one day, as I was tightening my standards for citing others, I went looking for the original source. I could not find it. Instead, I found the Quote Investigator link above that clarified it for me.

If you learned this quote from me and also misattribute it to Frankl, I apologize for misleading you. I encourage you to make a new choice.

Let’s dig into what the quote means.

What the Quote Means

It reflects on a basic well-accepted dynamic of normal psychology (normal refers to normal, as opposed to abnormal behavior.)

The space is illustrated as the red box in this image.


In the image, “S” stands for Stimulus and “R” stands for Response.

Many define Responsibility as the ability to respond. This means that the red box in the drawing stands for

infinite choices.

Think about that.

(Take as long as you like to think about the fact that you always have infinite choices available to you — even when you say “I have no choice.” When you are ready, let’s break it down.)

Your senses receive a stimulus. That stimulus passes through your filters (some of which are your beliefs, assumptions, triggers, stereotypes, biases, etc.) and then you respond.

Except that for many of our “responses” it’s really a reaction. I say “reaction” because the choice was made unconsciously, i.e., without thinking — and that means without using that space depicted by the red box.


Because over the course of our life we’ve installed thousands of programs I’ll call auto-pilots. These autopilots allow us to operate without thinking.

We simply react.

Here’s an example. Let’s say I once had a bad experience dating an engineer. Afterward, I declared “I’ll never date an engineer again!” My mind took me seriously and embedded a negative emotional trigger that goes off when I encounter an otherwise date-worthy engineer.

We start doing this at an early age — very early — and never stop. We do it for food, colors, types of people, races, genders, subject matters, religions, careers — everything.

It’s an auto-pilot shortcut for not thinking.

We have hundreds of thousands of such auto-pilot programs. And they function like this:

SR (Stimulus->Reaction)

As opposed to

S[]R (Stimulus->deliberate choice->Respond)

Let’s turn our attention to Responsibility as a practice.

Responsibility is a Practice

“Practicing” responsibility means

  • catching yourself in reaction-mode,
  • stopping,
  • experiencing the space with infinite choices,
  • making a new choice, and
  • responding

Covey’s quote ends with this sentence:

“In our response lies our growth and freedom”.

Stopping in that space between stimulus and response for a moment and then making a deliberate choice is freedom. It’s also mindfulness, being present, aware, conscious, and the source of growth and personal transformation.

So, I love introducing students to that space.

And I love helping students expand that space.

Discover and expand the space between stimulus and response.

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