When you first start out in business, it’s difficult to fully grasp what it means to be responsible. In a more basic sense, responsibility usually refers to a situation after the fact, like “who was responsible for this?” The other side of this is responsibility before something happens; not just acknowledging responsibility to do something, but also the proper way to do it and seeing it through to completion.

When it comes to doing anything of a higher caliber, you have to accept complete responsibility for that thing’s success or failure. That means you have to show up and do the work. You have to accept failure if you mess something up. You are the first and last person to answer to. Nobody else. True responsibility means recognizing and accepting this regardless of who is around to help. You never assume that “someone else will take care of it.” If someone drops the ball, you’re ready and willing to pick it up. What’s more, you’re constantly paying attention to know when you should assume responsibility, even if you weren’t responsible to begin with.

Assuming responsibility is difficult. It makes you vulnerable. If something goes wrong and you’re responsible, it can be a serious takedown for your ego. There’s nothing worse than having the right and title to something that doesn’t work out. This is why a lot of people choose to point fingers instead of raising their hands. Want to find the sharpest person in the room? See who throws up their hand first, especially in the worst of situations. In all affairs, you should have your hand ready to go, even if you’re not the immediate shepherd.

Why make yourself the target, so to speak? Refinement. The more comfortable you are with accepting responsibility, the more aware you become of the negative consequences. Of what happens if you don’t get something done. After a few times being on the stand, you find your sense for finding and resolving mistakes to improve significantly. By putting yourself in the fire, you learn just how hot it really is and what it takes to get out. Usually, getting out is more taxing than doing what’s necessary to avoid the fire in the first place. To fully appreciate this, though, you have to get burned a few times.

If you’re stuck, evaluate how much responsibility you’re assuming for the current situation. If you accept it 100%, there’s a high chance that something gone awry won’t happen again because you’ve learned the downside. If you avoid responsibility, you will struggle to improve your problem solving skills and push yourself forward.