Taking Responsibility Starts with Honesty
How good are you about taking responsibility for your own actions? Be honest with yourself!
Not long after I had joined a new company, which required me to move from Germany to London, my former boss Mario told me that it was my fault that one of the hotel contractors had missed their assigned deadline. That contractor had received the deadline from me two months earlier. Her inactions meant we lost a huge piece of business. I was livid! I had gone out and gained the client’s trust, requesting my boss that the company spend money on the sales trip. I had done my sales job, and now I got the blame for losing the business?! The contractor hadn’t even looked at the file for the whole past 2 months. I was at fault? Not her?
It was a learning experience for me, one that I took with me, eventually to open my own first business. First though I immediately changed my way of working. Every request was put into a separate file. I started keeping count of the work that I had passed to the contributing departments. I started to chase everything! I was determined that this was never going to happen to me again.
Today as a business owner, I can better understand Mario’s point of view. It was a big piece of business, one that needed to be managed and monitored throughout the process and that should have been my job or at least in my interest to check for updates.
Today I believe if a member of staff can be allowed to sit on a piece of business with no one checking on the progress, then process and management also need to be checked and changed. The internal systems of the business of course also need to be thoroughly reviewed and analysed.
I recognised that my responsibility should have been to follow up with the contractor. I should have flagged it when I saw that nothing had been done and made sure that the offers went out on time. If staff can sit unnoticed on a big piece of business, missing their deadlines, then it costs everyone.
Today the first person I always hold accountable though is myself. The responsibility for the success or failure of my business always lies with me. When you are trying to make a significant change in your life or career, it can be difficult to be honest with yourself and acknowledge how you may have contributed to a situation going badly. Without that acknowledgement and honesty, however, you cannot learn and grow from your experiences.
Learning from our experiences involves being honest with ourselves and recognising how we contributed to the situation. You might not always like what you find, but if you are not honest with yourself, then you can’t make changes or create a different outcome nor move forward.
Ask yourself what your current status quo is in both your personal and professional lives. That is what you are willing to accept from yourself and others without questioning it or setting higher expectations. The problem with a status quo is that you cannot improve if you continue performing at a level that is comfortable or expecting others to only do as much as they are comfortable with. It was uncomfortable to hear what Mario had to say, but it allowed me to re-think my way of working, my way of thinking and do what was necessary to change and improve the situation in future. Mistakes are there to be made but make them just once!
Here are a few questions to help you start shifting your thinking and help you to identify the ways that you might be falling into the blame game:
· What do I contribute to my current circumstances, both personally and professionally?
· Have I been open to taking risks and stepping outside of my comfort zone (status quo)?
· If I am not stepping out of my status quo, can I be honest about why or do I shift blame?
List out your reasons why you opt to not take risks. Then look at that list for places where you have created excuses or shifted the blame to someone else. The point of any risk that you take is the opportunity it gives you to learn, grow, and be successful.
For you, the status quo should not become your normal. You need to be willing to break out of that comfortable arena. Being uncomfortable becomes the motivation to create real change in your life, regardless of how uncomfortable you may feel in the process. When you are uncomfortable, it can be easy to make excuses or try to blame others for what is going wrong.
Being honest with yourself, especially when you are uncomfortable, is about not allowing yourself to make excuses or play the blame game. You are in charge of your life and it is important to take responsibility for it, both during those times of comfort and those times when it is anything but comfortable.