How you think about responsibility greatly affects how you run your business and how successful you'll be.

But responsibility isn't a top-of-mind concern for most entrepreneurs.

Instead, when people think of business, they think of "opportunity."

The opportunity to make money. The opportunity to make a difference. The opportunity to create something great. The opportunity to leave a legacy. The opportunity to be time and location independent. And so on and so forth.

And it's true, building a sustainable business is about all that.

But it's self-indulgent to think business is just about opportunity.

Not Just Opportunity

It makes it sound like being an entrepreneur is about the entrepreneur. About all the things YOU can do, all the things YOU can have.

But it's not really about you, or about me, or any other entrepreneur. It's about the people who will be touched by our work.

Your customers.

Your audience.

Your families.

That's what business is really about--not a self-indulgent opportunity for you to make money and live the rich life (although all that comes with the territory), but rather the gap between how all people live today, and how their lives can be after your intervention.

Which totally changes the frame, doesn't it?

It's not about opportunity for you, it's about responsibility to others.

That's why we work the extra hour in the evening and spend our weekends building our businesses. Sure, the money and freedom are nice, but it's really the people who are counting on you (even if they don't know it yet) who keep you moving forward.

Because, as entrepreneurs, we have the power to change the world.

And with great power comes great responsibility to do whatever it takes for the people who need us.

Another Responsibility: To Yourself

And then there's the question of who takes responsibility for your business success.

When things go well, who's responsible?

Is it a result of your focused action and determination? Or did you just "luck out" by finally being in the right place at the right time? Or was it because of the big break somebody gave you?

And what about when things don't go well?

Is that because you royally messed up, or because things happened that were beyond your control?

Your answer to these question is telling.

Psychologists call a worldview where you're responsible for your successes "internal locus of control," and it's correlated with happiness and success. People who feel they're responsible--and therefore in control--of their lives tend to be more successful and happier than people who blame external forces for everything.

It makes sense. If you think your outcomes are due to forces outside your control, then you would tend to minimize your efforts and rely on those forces to work for you. In contrast, if you have an internal locus of control, then you would do everything humanly possible to succeed.

I've seen this first-hand: when students join my training program as part of a decision to change their destiny, they succeed.

But when they see it as a way of putting responsibility for their success on somebody else (me, my team, the curriculum, etc.), when they're looking to be rescued, then success is rare.

The good news is that, at the very least, you have the power to control your worldview. You can develop your internal locus of control by doing the following:

  • Make a list of all the great things you've achieved.
  • Make a list of the reasons why bad things were beyond your control and how you're acting positively in spite of them.

The sooner you (and your mind!) realize it, the faster success will come.