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  • Writer's pictureBrian Best


This week steering committee member, Brian D. Best, shared his thoughts on being a responsible citizen.

Just the other day, I tossed my crumpled up receipt toward the restaurant’s trash can as I quickly walked by. The receipt hit the rim and fell behind the can. It was a shameful miss. I took a couple of steps, stopped, went back, fished my trash from behind the can and threw it away properly. It was just a small piece of trash. I’m certain the restaurant workers would have found it and taken care of it. Had I just carried on without cleaning up my own mess, I would have missed an opportunity to exercise an important leadership competency. Leaders are responsible. Especially when it comes to  the “little things.” I knew the expectation – trash goes in the can. No one else was responsible for putting my trash in the can for me. The same is true for what might be considered the bigger things as well. No one is responsible to be respectful for me. No one is responsible to care for me. No one is responsible to volunteer for me. I am responsible.

Roots of the word “responsible” indicate that a responsible person is the cause of something happening. Mahatma Gandhi said, "We but mirror the world. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” A powerful question then: “What am I the cause of?”

Gandhi goes on to say, “We need not wait to see what others do.” Imagine how much better our community would be if we all took responsibility to do the right things, the right way, at the right time, every time. Next time you properly throw something away in the right place (or if you shoot a brick and miss from two feet away and have to go back and pick up the rebound), perhaps you’ll be reminded that you are building a habit that is the cause of something good happening. Embracing responsibility will make you a better leader and a better citizen. When your tendencies for those two things get better, the tendencies of our community get better.

Brian Best

DeKalb LEADS Steering Committee

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