To describe a sense of helplessness, the late U.S. President Lyndon Johnson was quoted as saying, “I feel like a hitchhiker on a Texas highway in the middle of a hailstorm; I can't run, I can't hide, and I can't make it go away.”

Difficult circumstances can make us feel the same way. . . helpless.

But even in times of great difficulty we can be powerful. Like the 1970’s television character, the Six Million Dollar Man (“We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster”), we can emerge from challenges better than we were before.

But we must make a choice.

We can choose to be a victim of our circumstances or we can use them as a catapult. When we realize that we are responsible for how we respond to those circumstances and that we are accountable for making the best of those circumstances, then we become powerful.

To use an old cliché being responsible means being a thermostat not a thermometer. As a thermostat, my behavior changes the negativity, it does not reflect it.

Choosing accountability means taking ownership for the results I produce. If I produce less than my best, then I shouldn’t blame anyone but myself.

How does this approach make us powerful?

If I see myself as the victim of circumstances that “someone else” forced on me, then “someone else” is responsible for the results I produce. And if I blame “someone else” when I don’t produce positive results, then “someone else” has all the power and I have none.

But if I am responsible for my reaction to circumstances and I am accountable for the results I produce, then I am powerful because it is up to me (not my boss, not other people, not “someone” else) to change the circumstances and to produce even better results.

If you’re willing to share, please let me know when choosing responsibility and accountability made you even more powerful. Send me a note via the contact form. I will send you an excerpt from my book, Transforming: The Power of Leading from Identity, as a thank you.