It’s Not My Fault… Is It?
Bad things even happen to good people, and life is unfair. In the world full of injustice, we sometimes get the short end of the stick – technology fails, we get taken advantage of by some crook (or “friend”), and zits pop up right before a big date. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it, but sigh, wallow in self-pity, and move on. Right? Wrong. While some view such unfortunate incidents as road bumps and barriers, others (me) see it as an opportunity. The trick is to own those set backs, and allow yourself to learn from them.
Admittedly, learning from one’s mistakes is no easy task, not to mention accepting the blame for a situation that places you at a distinct disadvantage. However, once you master the art of accepting ownership of the circumstances and quieting your bruised ego, you will be able to see the life’s events in a completely different light.
I always take responsibility for all things that happen in my life, both good and bad. Obviously, I exclude completely random events, like tornadoes or hurricanes, but most events are not random. By realizing self-accountability for any non-random incident, I put myself at a different vantage point – I’m no longer a victim of the circumstances or someone else’s evil misdoings, but I’m now able to learn from the situation as I am the one that allow it to happen. I will be the first to admit – these are not my first thoughts after something awful happens. The desire to place the blame on others (as well as milk the “victim” role for all it’s worth) is innate to our nature; however, once these initial feelings pass, you will realize what an amazingly empowering perspective that is.
Here are a few personal examples to help illustrate my point.
Situation – My partner screwed me out of thousands of dollars leaving me with a bankrupt company.
Initial reaction: I’m victimized by a complete criminal. How could I not see this personality trait before!?
Changing perspective: Wait a minute, I remember him telling me a story about how he was able to pull a fast one on an unwitting customer in his last business. I knew he was a crook! Why didn’t I trust my gut!?! I must always trust my gut!
Outcome: I must definitely put systems in place to prevent a future partner racking up debt and run off with the company’s cash. Better yet… I have rules about having a partner! Did I break my own rules when I partnered up with him? ALWAYS follow the rules you set up… they are there from a previous lesson learned.
Situation – The server’s hard drive crashed and the last backup was from a month ago.
Initial reaction: The server’s hard drive is an absolutely critical piece of the companies IT systems, and I trusted its backup to my right-hand man! Certainly, he was to blame for the loss of essential data!
Changing perspective: Regardless of how capable he is, I did not take the time to make sure it was done, and done correctly. Inspect what you expect! I know this and I didn’t follow it.
Outcome: Going forward, I will put a system in place to ensure anything I deem as mission-critical will be foolproof. I will make sure to check that I have a back-up on my desk every morning. I will also have to invest more time and resources in hiring and training to ensure that all personnel is well-educated and is following procedures.
Unfortunate setbacks happen. Ultimately, it’s my fault,
and I’m going to allow myself to learn from this mistake.
Without doubt, this simple mindset has helped me tremendously both in business and personal life. It has earned a spot on my Life Rules. Another bonus – reduced propensity for wallowing in self-pity, less opportunities to come up with reasons for depression and lower self-esteem, and a generally sunnier outlook on life. Once you escape the victim mindset, you will truly be in charge of your life.