It’s an ugly baby, but it’s your babyArticle added by Paul Mallett on January 21, 2014
Joined: September 27, 2012
Ranked: #19 (2,363 pts)
After years of observation, I have come to the conclusion that the single most important requirement for success in anything is personal responsibility. Unfortunately, it seems so rare anymore. In times of crisis or conflict, it’s far more common today to look for someone else to blame. I mean, the problem can’t be me, right?
I have been blessed with a few incredible personal mentors over the years, and one of them taught me the value of personal responsibility over 20 years ago. We were going through some pretty tough times at work. The company had hired a new manager for our department, and after just a few weeks of this guy’s leadership, mutiny was in the air. It got ugly. Real ugly.
People were transferring or leaving the company like rats off a sinking ship. After eventually recognizing the problem was getting out of hand, the vice president responsible for our department stepped in. We talked through a lot of issues, most of which seem quite petty now, but he said one thing that has stuck with me for all these years.
When you find yourself in conflict with someone or failing at something important, stop and ask yourself if there is anything you could have done to make the situation better? If there is, do it immediately and see if things improve.
What a concept.
What would our society be like if everyone practiced this simple exercise? What would politics be like if this was standard operating
Before we get too carried away with that thought, there is real science behind this tendency to blame everyone else for our problems. Scientists call it cognitive dissonance. When our behavior, or the results of our behavior, threatens our self-concept, our ego kicks into overdrive. It begins to create all sorts of justifications to protect itself. The higher the stakes, the harder it is to admit fault, and the more ego tries to justify our actions.
When little Johnny comes home from school with poor grades, we’re convinced the teacher is out to get him.
When Susie doesn’t get as much playing time on the volleyball team as we think she should, we complain about school politics.
When we can’t set an appointment to save our life, we blame it on bad leads.
When we don’t hit our sales goals, we convince ourselves there’s no market for insurance products in this territory.
I wish I could say this never happens to me, but it still does. We all fall into this trap from time to time. However, the reality is that almost everything we experience in life and business is a direct result of our actions (or inaction). To make things worse, we are always looking for silver bullets. We want what everyone else has, and we want it now. When our shortcuts don’t deliver the results we expected, we naturally look for someone to blame.
After all, it can’t be our fault right?
Wrong! It can be our fault, and that’s not all bad. We can own our failures, as well as our successes. And the sooner we do it, the sooner our fortunes will begin to turn around.
The next time you are feeling the urge to blame someone else for your failures, consider the following:
Let me repeat: We all fall into this way of thinking from time to time. How could we not? Our culture and our nature are both working every day to convince us we’re victims. Don’t buy it! Don’t give up control of your situation like that. Own your successes and your failures. As another of my mentors used to say, “It’s an ugly baby, but it’s your baby!”
- Is there anything you could do to improve the situation?
- Nip things in the bud. The longer you let things go, the harder it is for you to take ownership and correct the situation.
- Look at things from a different perspective. What would your prospect say the problem is?
- Get honest feedback from trusted people around you, and ask them to keep you accountable.
- Learn to accept and understand your weaknesses, and leverage your strengths
- Increase your problem-solving skills.
- Get over the self-pity. It serves no useful purpose, and it’s annoying to everyone else.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, only to yourself.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge your mistakes and move on.
Change the things that are within your control, and accept the things that are not. You’ll be much happier, and you’ll find your failures are merely stepping stones on the path to your success.
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