If it’s never your fault, you can’t take responsibility for it. If you can’t take responsibility for it, you’ll always be its victim.
~ Richard Bach, Messiah’s Handbook
The essence of this quotation has been with me for a long time. I have found it very powerful. I know, it is loaded with ugly words like fault and victim. Some of you may, unfortunately, include responsibility in the ugly category. If so, I’d like to change your mind!
I suppose another way of saying the same thing might be:
If I am to blame, or if I assume some of the blame in a situation, then I have some measure of power to change it.
I first faced the need to take a measure of responsibility in a place I didn’t think I needed to: Al Anon! I attended meetings because a loved one had a drinking problem – not me. Well, what I heard at those meetings was that the only person I can change is me and it was my responsibility to face what, in me, needed to change, and change it. No longer could I just blame my loved one for the problems we faced. I needed to assume some of the blame or responsibility for our problems and change what I could.
Then a wonderful thing happened: I felt empowered by assuming responsibility (or even blame) and taking action! This healthier way of dealing showed up in other areas of life. I began to notice that the leaders I respected took responsibility for what went wrong around them and for helping to find solutions. Their message was never blaming. Rather, “I could have … I missed … I’m sorry that didn’t go well. I/We will make that right for you.” So my own leadership took on the quality of responsibility for the good, the bad and the ugly. I was no longer a victim of circumstance. By assuming some responsibility, I had a voice to speak up with and actions to take. If you are in a position of leadership, here is a bit of wisdom from one leader I know:
When your team makes a mistake, take the blame, the responsibility, with “We made a mistake.”. But when it comes to praise, pass it on! “Yes, John (or Mary or Sue) did a GREAT job!”
What blame game stops today?
What responsibility is yours to assume?
What impact will you have when you do?
How often do you hear yourself begin a response with “I can’t … I never … I always …”?
“I never take a break when there’s a deadline.”
“I can’t do that – I’m not talented enough.”
“No, I won’t drive through town – I always take the highway.”
Scan the various areas of your life (home, parenting, relationships, work, recreation…). Listen for your inner I Never … I Can’t … I Always …”. My “favorite” such phrases have included:
I’m not good enough to do that.
I don’t have time for that.
But I am practicing catching myself and reframing:
I could practice a bit and get better.
I may not be as good as others, but, yes, I am good enough!
If I moved that task into tomorrow or decided it didn’t need to happen, I’d have plenty of time!
My invitation to you today is:
Notice when your first reaction is an immediate shut down of an idea, a Never or Can’t or Always kind of statement. Then play with alternatives like:
I usually don’t … but I’ll try.
I feel incapable of doing … but maybe I can – with a bit of help!
I prefer … but I’ll experiment.
Have fun. Watch your world expand.
What’s possible now?
Do you ever feel like:
- you are being pulled in too many directions?
- there is too much being asked of you?
- YOU are responsible for that person and that activity and this …?
Is it all too much? Recently, I read The Joy of Burnout by Dr. Dina Glouberman, where she provided a visual that describes this situation beautifully:
Picture someone or something you are over invested in. Imagine that your energy is like rays, or I like to say strands of spaghetti, coming out of a hole in the top of your head. The ends of the spaghetti are stuck in that person or thing.
My imagination traded in that spaghetti for my blood vessels and I quite literally saw my life energy flowing out of me into those others.
Pick either image, close your eyes, and feel into it for a moment.
Imagine a strand for each attachment that drains you.
Continue reading “Energy Drains: take back your life!”
I used to feel motivated for this work. I was excited, unstoppable, energized. Now I feel dead inside. What happened to me? Where did my passion go?
Sound like you?
If so, then what follows is just one perspective you may find helpful.
Continue reading “Where did my passion go?”
We’ve all met face to face with them – the hard and fast (or soft and arbitrary) deadlines we’ve been asked to meet. Whether is’s a task at work, the child needing a ride to practice that begins in two minutes, or the self-imposed, “I should call so-and-so who is struggling.”, deadlines seems to be a non-negotiable part of life.
BUT … I am writing to suggest that we just might want to reconsider something. Really, DEADlines? How many of the things we label deadlines really are a matter of life and death? Continue reading “Deadlines!”