“It’s Liberating and Exciting that I can Just be Me”

Responsibility success stories often give me goosebumps. Especially those that report substantial life change, growth, and release.

Today’s issue is devoted to a story that came my way after the two recent newsletters on mutual blame (Why Can’t My Ex Take Responsibility? and How Do I End the Blamestorm with My Ex?).

This person is excited for me to share their story. Why?

It might help you or another reader own whatever it is that you *think* you have to keep secret.

Here’s their story.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes a minute or two to read.)

Dear Christopher,

This newsletter is so timely. Thank you.

While I’ve been in the diaspora from the Responsibility Immersion and Responsibility Mastery community, I still am working to practice the learnings every day, and I recently had a MAJOR bout of confront leading to more awareness and clear intent.

This is deeply personal and not without pain, but I have finally allowed myself to face and bear truth to something I’ve held for a very very long time.

I am transgender. In the deepest recesses of my being, I identify as a woman.

That took me over 30 years of denial, blame, shame, and justification to embrace as “is” and start to act on it.

And it’s not without pain. My marriage is ending.

Not so much because of my embracing my truth but in response to the fact that I acted in ways that harmed those I loved:

  • I was in the justify trap,
  • I can just keep it all hidden and it will all be better,
  • I can crossdress when I’m alone or traveling,
  • I can maintain a secret social media account to connect with the trans community and explore my feminine side.

But it was lying, and it was harmful.

And it sucks — I broke trust with my best friend and my partner — with my wife. And it is ending our marriage.

And I own it.

I am responsible for my choices. And now I get to navigate the new future – where we are trying to be equitable and amicable and to build the best future for our kids as co-parents and, hopefully, over time, as friends again.

And I get to own my future as me… I am working with a therapist now to figure out the steps. Nothing concrete yet, and I’m still using “John” and “he/him/his” in most settings, but I am committed to walking this path as it is my truth.

And it’s liberating and exciting that I can just be me without hiding it and without fear.

And while it took me a long time to get there, I am grateful for my engagement in Responsibility Immersion and Responsibility Mastery and for your wonderful contributions to the body of knowledge on leadership and responsibility that helped me to get there.

This would have been a really hard message to pen even a month ago.

Now it feels empowering and liberating.

I hope that sometime soon, I will be reintroducing you to me — as Juanita Smith — a confident, powerful, free, and at-choice WOMAN ready to live and lead in her own life.

That day will come soon.

Until then, all my very best to you and yours…

John Smith

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How Do I End the Blamestorm with my Ex?

In our previous article I replied to Nate questioning why his ex doesn’t take responsibility for her actions.

Here’s a summary of my reply:

  • She can, she just doesn’t know how, or isn’t ready to (yet).
  • She has a problem and its you.
  • So she’s stuck in Lay Blame.
  • However, it looks like you have a problem too.
  • And your problem is her.
  • So where are you coming from (in The Responsibility Process)?

Then I promised to offer some thoughts about how to get out of this mutual blamestorm.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 1 minute to read.)


Conflict resolution experts would suggest that you de-escalate.

Here are some thoughts about how you might approach de-escalating.

Consider whether you want to remain a powerless victim or if you prefer to regain your freedom, power, and choice.

The ego in each of you feeds on the drama, so it is easier to blame in the short term, but that takes a tragic toll in the longer term.

If you want to de-escalate and regain your freedom, choice, and power, I can help. If you want to keep blaming, I have little to offer.

Own it.

Own your ability and power to create, choose, and attract your reality.

This is our definition of Responsibility.

Through your beliefs, filters, triggers, conditioning, and subconscious programming, you are always creating, choosing, and attracting your entire experience – good and bad.

You just aren’t always owning it.

So owning the negative experience is the first step to taking charge of it; seeing how you created, choose, or attracted it; and then changing it.

Stop blaming.

After you choose to own it, some part of you probably is ready to stop blaming.

But some part of you isn’t.

So now you have an internal dialogue.

“They did it to me!!” (Lay Blame)

“Maybe, but I allowed it.” (Responsibility)

“It’s their fault.” (Lay Blame)

“But blaming won’t change things.” (Responsibility)

A comment

Lay Blame is a super easy way to cope with a problem.

It requires the least thinking, introspection, wisdom, and zero owning it.

All it requires is the over-simplified point of view that they CAUSED your negative EFFECT.

This leads to the presumption that THEY must change for YOU to be happy.

And that’s the powerless part.

However, when you step back and look clearly at the big picture you can see that you can choose happiness regardless of what they do.

Also, it is questionable that they alone caused your negative effect. They simply did what they did. It’s your interpretation that makes it negative.

Workplace application

Since most readers of this newsletter are interested in Responsibility application in the work place, consider this:

The number one coping dynamic in the workplace is that management blames workers and workers blame management.

How convenient. Then neither has to own their role in their messes.

This coping dynamic is the first thing I address when working with an executive leader. If they insist on blaming, I can’t help them.


Because I know that the executive leader is creating, choosing, and attracting everything they are experiencing.

So, the people aren’t the real problem.

The real problem is the leader’s not owning their point of view (of Lay Blame).

After you stop

After you choose to stop blaming, you will want to watch for Justify, Shame, Obligation, and Quit. This is how you move through the states in The Responsibility Process.

You can release each.

(It’s not easy. Yet, it is always possible.

When you are deeply entangled in blamestorming, this can all be very challenging.

It helps to have a Responsibility mentor aid you in reflecting. That’s what I’m here for.)

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Why Can’t My Ex Take Responsibility?

Here’s a question I received in response to my invitations on this site, and around the web, to ask me anything about Responsibility.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 1 minute to read.)

Nate asks

My ex-partner doesn’t take responsibility for her actions. She blamed me and called me emotionally immature, and that’s basically why she’s my ex-partner.

What would be the reason for this? As in, why can’t a 43-year-old woman take responsibility for her own emotions?

I answer

Hello, Nate.

I’m sorry you are in this position. I’ll do my best to address your question. I hope it is some help.

You ask: “why can’t a 43-year-old woman take responsibility for her own emotions?”

She absolutely can. She just doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to — yet (and maybe never).

But she’s not alone.

Most people aren’t very good at taking Responsibility. If we were, we’d be much happier, more free, and more powerful.

(Capital R “Responsibility” indicates our meaning of the word, which we define as owning one’s power and ability to create, choose, and attract one’s reality. You can read about this on our About page.)

In fact, you frequently don’t know when you aren’t taking Responsibility.

It takes a fair amount of growth and practice — and sometimes a loving poke from a compassionate friend, mentor, or support group — to know when you aren’t taking Responsibility.

So how do you know when you aren’t taking Responsibility?

There are two indicators:

  1. Something’s not quite right in your world. That is, you have a problem. And,
  2. you are coming at that problem from below the line.

By “below the line,” I refer to The Responsibility Process.

In the hand-drawn graphic here, see the line between Obligation and Responsibility.The Responsibility Process & Results

When we approach a problem from Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, or Obligation, then we’re not taking Responsibility.

We’re avoiding it.

In these mental states we’re sure the problem is “out there.” We’re a victim.

Thus we are powerless to solve the problem. Something “out there” has to change for our problem to resolve.

So, from your email, I sense your ex-partner has a problem.

And from her point of view (of Lay Blame), you are her problem.

(It sucks to be blamed. Again, I’m sorry for your situation.)

I could go on for pages explaining how Responsibility works in our crazy minds. However, I suggest two things.

To understand more about Responsibility, follow the links above to find lots of valuable content about The Responsibility Process and how to develop your own Responsibility-thinking practice.

You can also email me, Nate (you too Christopher), with follow-up questions.

Now, Nate, may I poke you a bit?

If you’re not up for that, stop reading.


It sounds to me like something’s not quite right in your world. Is that correct?

And would you say that your problem is your ex-partner’s accusations?

If so, then where are you coming from on The Responsibility Process?

(Ouch, I know.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with you.)

Congratulations on your newfound awareness.

I’ll offer some ideas in the next post if you want to know what you can do about it.

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How do you practice Responsibility in wartime? Part 2

Recently, I had an engaging exchange with a Ukrainian life coach wanting to know if there is a special way to coach Responsibility in times of war.

This is Part 2. Read Part 1.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 1 minute to read.)

Anna again

Hello, Christopher.

Honestly saying today is a hard day, as today is when the war started in Ukraine one year ago. But hopefully, all will be good, and there won’t be any escalation today from the Russian side.

I hope you are doing well. I’m very grateful to you for answering my letter. That means a lot to me; I greatly appreciate your work and the personal story you’ve shared with me. It’s inspiring to see how The Responsibility Process becomes a lifestyle and can strongly influence mental health.

You understood correctly; I want to try using The Responsibility Process for coaching. I have an idea to create a supportive coaching group in the format of online meetings. And the first point that you mentioned made me think a lot this morning, as I need to practice it myself and integrate it into my everyday life. I’ve read all resources from your website and the email subscription, and thank you for sharing the link about “Stop the Freakout ”. I’ll watch those videos.

About the poster in Ukrainian – that’s so great! Thanks for doing it. And I would love to get in touch with those two ladies; possibly, we can do something together for Ukrainians.

Thank you once more very much for all your advice and support.

Have a great day!

Best wishes,

Anna Yaremenko

Me (Christopher) again

Thank you, Anna, for your prompt reply.

I hope today was not too much of a struggle for you.

About your idea of coaching groups, I will share a couple of principles, and one practice, for running Mastery Groups:

1. All participants agree to 100% Responsibility in the meeting.

That means that Denial, Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, Obligation, and Quit will invite attention and questions (with compassion, of course) from the host.

2. No advice or solutions are allowed.

People stop thinking for themselves (and owning it) once they receive advice or solutions. Instead, you work with the keys of Intention (What do you want?), Awareness (What is your attention on?), and Confront (Are you willing to face this? / May I poke you?). So, you can teach something (a new truth) to build Awareness, or you can ask questions or make statements that focus Intention and help the person Confront.

3. The invitation to work in a Mastery Group is some form of the question, “Who has something that’s not quite right in your world?”

Another version of the question is, “Whose mind keeps chewing on some issue or problem that you wish you could be done chewing on so you can free up that mental space?”

These should give you some things to think about.


While Anna mentioned “coaching group” I responded about “Mastery Groups.”

A Mastery Group, part of Responsibility Mastery (also available in Responsibility Mentoring) is the most powerful tool I know for experiencing rapid consciousness growth while developing your Responsibility practice.

The Mastery Group dives into real-life situations that participants are wrestling with in their lives, and applies Responsibility tools to solve each problem.

What makes it so powerful is the clarity of the “master” who hosts the group. The master listens to you intently and then helps you apply Responsibility-thinking to get yourself above the line, thus obliterating the problem and generating newfound freedom, choice, and power in your life.

When you participate in a Mastery Group, you experience personal breakthrough after breakthrough.

There’s nothing like it.

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How do you practice Responsibility in wartime?

Recently I engaged in a daily back-and-forth correspondence with a Ukrainian life coach, Anna Yaremenko (her real name, used with permission).

Anna wants to help Ukrainians take Responsibility for their lives during these devastating times.

In this Responsibility Answers edition, I share Anna’s call for help and my first reply. It’s lightly edited, removing some unnecessary sentences, otherwise leaving Anna’s and my words intact.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 1 minute to read.)

First, we hear from Anna.

Anna writes

Hello, the Responsibility Team.

My name is Anna Yaremenko, and I’m addressing this email to Christopher Avery.

I am Ukrainian and have worked as a life coach for several years. Unfortunately, due to the war in Ukraine, I have many requests from my clients, like feeling lost in life and career, losing hope, blaming others, being overwhelmed by hate around, and too much pressure and obligation because life has become so unpredictable.

I’ve learnt on your website all the available materials + emails subscription, which gave me many great ideas on using The Responsibility Process with my clients and in my life. But I want to ask you if it’s possible to share if there might be a special approach to implementing The Responsibility Process in such an uncertain stressful time as a war.

If you have had such an experience or can give me some direction, I would be very grateful.

Me (Christopher)

This request touched my heart, and I was compelled to reply. Here’s what I wrote:

I have two primary ideas to share with you.

1. You can teach and coach Responsibility only to the extent that you integrate it into your own life.

That suggests developing your own Responsibility practice now.

The more you practice Responsibility, the better you can teach and coach it. (And, to accelerate your practice, teach and coach Responsibility. It’s a virtuous cycle.)

You will grow!

It is the most foundational coaching tool that I know. The more you practice Responsibility, the more you can spot how your client’s programming (conditioning) keeps them stuck, and you can better know how to help them get unstuck.

Read a little more about this in Guidance for Teaching Responsibility.

2. People can get to the mental state of Responsibility around any problem (no matter how big).

And people get stuck below the line around even tiny problems. The Responsibility Process is the same whether problems are minuscule or gigantic.

Notice that I said “can” not “do.” The mental state of Responsibility is always available to every human around any problem. Some choose it, and many don’t.

My task as a Responsibility teacher is to hold that possibility for every student, making them more likely to choose it.

I’m inspired by people who have lost their limbs (or sight or hearing) and who completely accept it. They say, “this is an inconvenience, not a problem.”

And yes, not all people who lose limbs or senses reach that mental state. They remain bitter victims of a cruel life.

Anna, you asked about what experiences I might have had.

I’ve never lived where a war raged around me. I don’t know what it is like. Therefore, I cannot claim to know how to take 100% Responsibility for one’s life during such upheaval.

However, if I were in such a position, I know that the mental state of Responsibility would be available to me. In that state, I could either completely accept the situation or choose how to use my unique inspiration and gifts to do something about it. (I think your president is an inspiring example of this.)

While I have never been at war, I have faced severe obstacles from a position of Responsibility. One was the pandemic.

The pandemic and shutdown was the number one Justify worldwide during 2020 and 2021. I admit to freaking out for almost 24 hours when I realized that my business and life would be turned upside down.

Then I realized that the world needed our message more than ever, and I got to work serving up value. See the six “Stop the Freakout” episodes near the bottom of our resources page. (You’ll get the idea from the first one.)

I have also dealt with a serious health challenge for seven years now (it kept me in bed this morning until Noon — again). I wrote about how I choose to be bigger than this problem.

And I have provided Responsibility mentoring to many people in devastating situations, helping them break through to newfound freedom, choice, and power.


There’s a keen observation to make: It’s the size of the fear or anxiety about the situation that makes it hard to confront. That’s why Confront (that is, the ability to face) is one of the three keys to Responsibility.

Another observation is that people’s stories of Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, and Obligation are compelling. So without sufficient training and practice, coaches accept the story. They sympathize rather than help the client face and find new truth that frees them.

For more on practicing the three keys to Responsibility, see our email course Launching Your Responsibility-Thanking Practice.

TRP Poster UKRUkrainian translation!

We were going to announce the 29th language in our translation project — Ukrainian — in this edition, AND THEN I heard from Anna.


Now, how can we — the worldwide Responsibility Community — support Ukrainians?

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

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Coping is Overrated

But you are likely an expert at it.


Because our society teaches that coping with “stuff” we don’t want is a success strategy.

(I don’t buy it.)

(This post began as a LinkedIn post. It takes 1 minute to read.)

Coping is big business too.

There are tens of thousands of titles on coping, such as “How to Cope with a Bad Boss.”

There are far fewer titles about how to replace coping with growing.

Growing what?

Awareness, higher consciousness. This results in being free, powerful, and at choice.

People who engage in a Responsibility practice find that they don’t need to cope. They prefer to be free, powerful, and at choice.

Here’s something that you can do today.

Catch yourself with thoughts, actions, and words related to coping, behavior that says

“There’s nothing I can do.”
“I just have to put up with it.”
“This is just the way it is.”

Catch yourself doing this, and then ask yourself, “For how long do I want this to be true?”

Decide that you would much rather face reality and own your life.

When you do that, your mind automatically moves you toward the ability to respond, to grow in awareness and freedom.

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

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What if nothing’s wrong with you?

Awareness is one of the three keys to Responsibility and self-leadership.

Awareness means what your attention is on.

For instance, when in Lay Blame, your attention is on framing someone as the cause of your problem.

In Responsibility your attention is on some form of the question “what do I want about this problem that I can take ownership of?”

Awareness is cool. It’s the root to mindfulness and to developing your consciousness.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 3 minutes to read.)

In my Responsibility practice, awareness means that every time something in my universe isn’t quite right (and thus I’m confused, upset, frustrated, annoyed, or angry), there is an opportunity for a new awareness.

A new truth.

A greater consciousness.

So, here’s one to try on:

There’s nothing wrong with you.

What if you are operating perfectly – according to your conditioning and programming?

Here’s the point.

Most smart people learned early in childhood to be self-critical – to catch themselves in a mistake faster than their parents, siblings, or teachers could say, “what’s wrong with you?”

They learned to say, “what’s wrong with me!?” while making various gestures.

“What’s wrong with me!?” maps to Shame in The Responsibility Process.

In Shame, I’m the problem. I Lay Blame on myself for what’s not right.

Then a lifetime of self-beating and self-loathing begins.

Many Responsibility students discover – through practice – that Shame is their “favorite” place to get stuck in The Responsibility Process.

What to do about it?

Consider that you are made perfectly, and you are also operating normally.

Even though things happen that aren’t quite right.

Consider that there is nothing wrong with you. You just have your attention on “what’s wrong with me?!” instead of “Hmmm, what do I want about this situation that I can take ownership of and do something about?”

Only then can you pay attention to another new awareness – a higher truth.

You are always doing the best you know how (in each moment, given your consciousness and the context).

Try that on.

You may be thinking: I’m not sure I ALWAYS do my best.

No. That’s not what the principle says.

In hindsight, you see dozens of things that you “should” have done differently. But that hindsight was not available to you in the moment when you made the mistake or rolled your eyes or said something ugly.

So, how do you put that hindsight to work?

You could open a “Catch Sooner Game” around any habitual programming or conditioning you want to change.

I describe Catch Sooner in The Responsibility Process (book). However, I apply it with students over and over in Responsibility Immersion so it becomes a new awareness and habit.

As people advance in their Responsibility practice, they learn to stop blaming themselves because they are much more aware of their programming and their power to change it.

So you can skip past Shame on The Responsibility Process.

Then, a really cool awareness dawns on you.

If nothing’s wrong with you, there’s nothing wrong with anyone!

Everyone is always doing their best in that moment (given their consciousness and context).

When you develop that awareness, you start erasing Lay Blame from The Responsibility Process in your mind.

Then, your attention is no longer on what’s wrong with people – either yourself or others.

And you are much more powerful to respond to situations and systems with less judgment and greater awareness.

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

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Infinite Choices

Your most frequent activity is making choices.

You just chose whether to start reading this post.

Now you are making a choice about whether to keep reading.

You might also be thinking about whether to grab a coffee.

Or scratch your nose.

(This post began as a Responsibility Community Newsletter. It takes 1 minute to read.)

When you really truly get that you have infinite choices available to you all day, every day

And that each one can create an entirely new path

Then you can sense the beginning of true freedom.

You can start to take charge of your life.

Like many, you may have been conditioned to believe that you have no choice, that you HAVE TO do this, or that you HAVE TO do that.

That your life path is paved for you, and you can’t alter it.

(Not true)

Or possibly – like so many do – you worry about “right” choices and “wrong” ones.

(Worrying is a choice)

I love these two lines from the Sufi poet Rumi, who said,

“Out beyond right and wrong is a field.

I’ll meet you there.”

That means you can let go of right/wrong, good/bad, should/shouldn’t, and choose what frees you.

The Responsibility Process teaches that Responsibility is a mental state — the mind’s coordinates for experiencing freedom, choice, and power.

It is a creative, calming, intentional, inspired, and authentic state of mind.

When you think you have no choice, that’s a good indication that you’re coping and feeling powerless.

Here’s something you can do today.

Catch yourself saying, “I have no choice.” And then tell yourself,

“I must be coping.

“Let me change that.

“Let me ascend to the mental state of Responsibility where I naturally experience freedom, choice, and power.”

I can help.

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

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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 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/ 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 Responsibility.com 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 responsibility.com 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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“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 hello@responsibility.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

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