I am spending some portion of my Covid-enforced time-out to think through ways of improving how I do business. When we all come out of the standstill, I want to make sure my companies are capable of moving forward with a fresh set of tools. I have discovered this is easier than I expected because the source of many of the problems that arise at TRO have their origin in my own methodologies. I’m glad, because that is something I can fix. I can’t fix Covid-19, but I can fix the way my company operates in the current environment.
Let me explain.
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 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? Covid-19 came at us from a completely unexpected place and has injured our industry tremendously hasn’t it? Absolutely, but 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. Certainly Covid-19 is an outside force we can blame for many of our problems right now, but it is the way we choose to function in the environment we find ourselves that will determine what our companies will look like on the other side of the pandemic.
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.