Responsibilities and Boundaries

Staying grounded and focused can be difficult through success. This week I’d like you to consider the relationship between “responsibilities and boundaries”. Its a rather odd word combination, but it is loaded with uncommon sense . The simplicity and humility it provides is boundless.

When people do not have any responsibilities, it can be hard for them to see their boundaries. Testing the limits to find the edge is common – much like children do as they learn what is acceptable/unacceptable in their home, school, etc. 

My daughters are 4 and 9 with the eldest often put in charge of “watching” her younger sister. They are allowed to disagree, argue, and resolve issues with each other, helping them build their resolution skills. Some boundaries for their disagreements is they cannot become physical, they cannot break things, and other typical children boundaries. The repercussions for violating these boundaries are often different for each of them. 

Sometimes this is seen as unfair, through the logic that the punishment should be the same for the same violation. I disagree for many reasons. One is I do not have the same social maturity expectations of my 4 year old as my 9 year old. Their responsibilities are different, so my expectations of them are different. Since we have given my eldest a higher level of responsibility, she has less acceptable behaviors. 

The point is that the range of acceptable behavior narrows as one’s authority rises. This plays out time and again in all parts of our lives. Its easy to see in the workplace.  Since I am responsible for the overall health of the company, I must understand there are boundaries for my actions. Lets consider my pride. If I operate through the emotions of my pride and let my ego dominate my decisions, I can become the very thing that gets in the way of the company’s well being. If I disregard this limit, the unintended consequences of my actions can impact many people, sometimes even the entire company. If I do not have the discipline to operate within the boundaries of my responsibilities, then I may not be worthy of my position of authority. 

I find simplicity and humility through the boundaries of my responsibilities. I hope it helps you reflect on the boundaries of your responsibilities and how to lessen the unintended consequences of violating your boundaries.