Common Sense Advice on the Importance of Personal Responsibility
A Gift from Bud Bilanich “The Common Sense Guy”
In my book Straight Talk for Success, I discuss the importance of taking personal responsibility for your success. It’s simple really. Success is all up to you, and me, and anyone else who wants it. We all have to take personal responsibility for our own success. I am the only one who can make me a success. You are the only one who can make you a success. Personal responsibility means recognizing that you are responsible for your career and life and the choices you make. It means that you realize that while other people and events have an impact on your career and life, these people and events don’t shape your career and life. When you accept personal responsibility for your career and life, you own up to the fact that how you react to people and events is what’s important. And you can choose how you react to every person you meet and everything that happens to you. The concept of personal responsibility is found in most writings on success. Stephen Covey’s first of seven habits of highly effective people is “be proactive.” My friend, John Miller’s book QBQ: the Question Behind the Question asks readers to ask questions like “what can I do to become a top performer”? John makes his living helping people take responsibility for their career and life success. In short, personal responsibility is an important building block of success. A Message to Garcia is perhaps one of the best known tracts on personal responsibility ever written. It is an inspirational essay written in 1899 by Elbert Hubbard that has been made into two movies. It was originally published as a filler without a title in the March, 1899 issue of Philistine magazine edited by Mr. Hubbard. However, A Message to Garcia was quickly reprinted as a pamphlet and a book. A Message to Garcia was translated into 37 languages, and was very well-known in American popular and business culture until the middle of the twentieth century. It was given to every United States Soldier, Sailor and Marine in both world wars, and often memorized by schoolchildren. Its wide popularity reflected the general appeal of selfreliance and energetic problem solving in American culture. Its “don't ask questions, get the job done” message was often used by business leaders as a motivational message to their employees. A Message to Garcia tells the story of the initiative of a soldier, Andrew Summers Rowan, a class of 1881 West Point graduate. Rowan was assigned and accomplished a daunting mission – get a message to Garcia. The essay points out that Rowan asked no questions, made no objections, requested no help, but accomplished his mission. A Message to Garcia exhorts the reader to apply this attitude to his or her own career and life as an avenue to success. The historical setting of the essay is the Spanish-American War in 1898. As the American army prepared to invade Cuba, which was then a Spanish colony, US military commanders wanted to contact the leader of the Cuban insurgents, Calixto Iniquez
Garcia, to coordinate strategy. Garcia had been fighting the Spanish for Cuban independence since 1868, and sought the help of the United Sates. Rowan was given the task of getting A Message to Garcia. Here is the entire text of A Message to Garcia. The language and examples are dated. But the message is timeless. Enjoy.
A Message to Garcia
Elbert Hubbard IN ALL THIS CUBAN BUSINESS there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Cuba -- no one knew where. No mail or telegraph could reach him. The President must secure his co-operation, and quickly. What to do! Someone said to the President, “There is a fellow by the name of...