With Power Comes Responsibility

the peopleI’ve been thinking about this phrase “with power comes responsibility” a lot lately. Perhaps it’s because it’s political hunting season in the US. As I scan the feelings of the crowed, I realise no one here really likes our choices. Yet this is the bed we lie in after decades of apathy built this craziness.

I remember the sentiments of my classmates in summer school as we talked. “They don’t care about us, so why should we get involved?” No one got uppity about politics because as teens we realised they really didn’t care about us. What we should have realised that if enough of us say NO, then they have to listen or lose their paychecks when we were old enough to make a difference.

Now, as I look around me and survey the feelings and thoughts of the middle school and high school students I work with, the sentiment is similar. They don’t care about politics because they don’t see how politics impacts them. Instead, the power and responsibility falls on me. It falls on you.

Our responsibilities are our power. 

No one is too young for responsibilities. I say this with gratitude for those that raised me to do my chores. My earliest memory of helping out was being a pudgy toddler carrying a loaf of bread with the groceries. As soon as I got in the house, I discarded it on the floor to play with the dog. The next time I learnt to wait while the adult pulled it out of my chubby paw and put it on the table. Then, I learnt that I could put the loaf of the table and go play with the dog.

As a child gets older, the chores get more complex. From helping to pull in laundry off the line to fixing their own car, chores can be anything you make them to be as long as they help maintain the house and give a sense of pride to the kid doing them. This gives them power. It gave us power when we became “of age” for any given thing. It continues to give us power every day that we recognise it.

We live through our responsibilities.


Life, as an adult, seems like an endless stream of responsibilities. We shudder and curse when the bills come, we groan when we have to replace something as dull as socks — at least until we give ourselves permission to get the fun ones. We often say we “ought” to do something… then snuggle down with a bowl of popcorn, a bottle of wine, and a Netflix binge in avoidance.

Despite what we think at those moments, we are responsible for our choices. And sitting down to binge watch a fav show should be something you choose to do, not something you “just sorta ended up doing.” Here’s your new script:

“I should be working on my business plan and weekly goals, but I’ll function much better once I know what happens to Ragnar raid on Paris… I’ll finish watching the season, then get my ass back to work.”

See? Guilt free acknowledgement of choices and responsibilities.

But it’s not always this easy, is it?


Strategy Lab wrote an interesting piece on obtaining power: giving power to gain it.

If it was, adulting would be much more palatable. Instead, there are shades of grey, days when you look around and think you made every mistake possible, and even worse days when you think about all the choices you barely made. You know those days when things “just happen” and you make decisions “in the moment”. Oi. I know do… all too well. The fallout is hit or miss in terms of feel good or productiveness.

For example, this month I’ve been taken down harshly by a cold. It’s just a head cold that created lots of sinus pressure — enough to make my eyes water and keep me away from the computer. Or anything else. My adult choice was to miss out on money to sleep it off. But, I also gave up my exercise regime and healthy eating for a time in order to just be. If I wanted nothing but soup one day, that’s what I had — and I didn’t feel bad about the lack of variety.

Freedom is what the power of responsibility and choice combines gives you. Freedom to play video games till 0200 when you have to work in the morning if you also accept the consequences of your actions. Freedom to eat cake for breakfast if you’re willing to accept that you should either eat really healthy the rest of the day or deal with bad health.

Freedom to choose which ever political representative represents you the most if you’re willing keep them in check with endless emails and phone calls reminding them of their campaign lies.

The responsibility is that we have to keep working with what we have. The power is that we can choose how to keep working with it.

This principle applies across all areas of life. Never forget that you have a choice in everything, even if you can’t control the rules.