Things go wrong. In any given week, there are problems aplenty with clients, suppliers and associates. There seems to be no lack of blame on social media. But I ask you, who is to blame?
If you are lucky, you are.
I come from a school that requires accepting total responsibility for everything that goes awry. In fact, I think the best years of my life began when I decided most of the problems in my life I was responsible for creating and my destiny was of my own doing.
When you blame others, you give up a powerful force for change: yourself. But we are often taught otherwise. We are schooled by some psychologies to blame our fathers, our mothers, our economic circumstances and our schooling. It’s never our fault.
But if we want to change our circumstances, it’s better if it is our fault because we can then make changes that really matter. Even if it’s not 100% true, I found myself in more comforting environments when I decided I have no one to blame for my situations than myself.
We sometimes spend too much time finding other people to blame, finding excuses for not being everything we feel capable of being. It’s our clients that are lame, suppliers who are at fault and our fellow workers who simply don’t measure up.
But the reality is in the final analysis we are indeed responsible for growing out of the past, putting circumstance behind us, learning from mistakes and moving on. When we blame ourselves, we can learn from mistakes. When we blame others, the remedy is more difficult because, well…it’s not our fault. When we have nobody to blame but ourselves, something remarkable happens. We are truly in command of our own lives.
Accepting total responsibility is not always easy to do. After all, other people do let us down, don’t they? But then again, are we not responsible for our choices in associates, clients and suppliers? At the very least we can choose our responses to circumstance and isn’t that the very heart of response-ability?
This is not an exercise in being hard on yourself. It’s a way of ensuring lessons are learned and mistakes not repeated.
Play this game with yourself. Think back to the last personal or business problem you experienced. Think through who you blamed for the incident. Now, find a way to take total responsibility for the problem. What was your role? Certainly others contributed, but what did you do along the way that might have eliminated the crucial elements of the event? What choices did you make that might have prevented the entire mess? How could you have created a new outcome?
Next time, create a new outcome.
This is tough medicine and it takes more than a spoonful of sugar to make it go down. But at the end of the day, if we don’t want to continue to find ourselves in compromised situations, it’s good to have a person we can count on to blame for mistakes.