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?