|Definition excerpted||from this publication|
Life is full of choices. Being responsible means being in charge of our choices and, thus, our lives. It means being accountable for what we do and who we are. It also means recognizing that our actions matter and we are morally on the hook for the consequences. Our capacity to reason and our freedom to choose make us morally autonomous and, therefore, answerable for whether we honor or degrade the ethical principles that give life meaning and purpose.
Ethical people show responsibility by being accountable, pursuing excellence and exercising self-restraint. They exhibit the ability to respond to expectations.
An accountable person is not a victim and doesn’t shift blame or claim credit for the work of others. He considers the likely consequences of his behavior and associations. He recognizes the common complicity in the triumph of evil when nothing is done to stop it. He leads by example.
Pursuit of Excellence
The pursuit of excellence has an ethical dimension when others rely upon our knowledge, ability or willingness to perform tasks safely and effectively.
Diligence. It is hardly unethical to make mistakes or to be less than "excellent," but there is a moral obligation to do one’s best, to be diligent, reliable, careful, prepared and informed.
Perseverance. Responsible people finish what they start, overcoming rather than surrendering to obstacles. They avoid excuses such as, "That’s just the way I am," or "It’s not my job," or "It was legal."
Continuous Improvement. Responsible people always look for ways to do their work better.
Responsible people exercise self-control, restraining passions and appetites (such as lust, hatred, gluttony, greed and fear) for the sake of longer-term vision and better judgment. They delay gratification if necessary and never feel it’s necessary to "win at any cost." They realize they are as they choose to be, every day.