“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” – Steve Maraboli
This week’s message will feel a little more ‘biting’ than usual, but it’s not meant to be an indictment of any one person, team, or group. For some reason lately the topic of ‘personal accountability’ has been top of mind for me lately. It is a growing trend I feel taking place in our society in general. Sometimes it seems as if we (the generic “we”) are much quicker to point the finger at others, while unwilling to point the mirror back on ourselves.
“Governments are to blame!” “No, it’s our political parties.” “Wait, let’s blame those greedy corporations!” “Or maybe we should just blame the rich?” See what I mean? And I haven’t even scratched the surface on this.
It’s not just the masses that do this, it’s each and all of us. For me this hits home more than you might imagine – as upon reflection I recognize how often I do the very same thing myself. Even in the most senior levels of leadership it is amazing how quick we are to point to all of the anecdotal reasons we aren’t achieving the success we could. To blame weather, or a big client loss, or even the pricing pressure we are feeling from competition as the reasons we aren’t growing faster. Yes, I’ve used all of these very excuses myself – as recently as some of my early financial reviews this year – to explain trends in my business.
But you know what – those are all cop-outs. As if there is nothing I or my leadership team can do to change that. We are completely at the mercy of our clients, right? I’m sure our service was perfect, our price was competitive, and we showed them the full value of our services every day? And with respect to pricing, there is nothing more we can do to sharpen our pencil, right?
Making excuses and blaming others is an easy way to deflect the real issues. The harder work is to dig in to the details, consider the underlying facts and circumstances, and take a hard look in the mirror to ask what I can do to change them.
In my example there are plenty of things I can do to own the situation. First, I can make sure that we are delivering the highest quality service possible to our clients. If I don’t know that for sure, I can’t dismiss the potential that it’s a cause. Then I can look hard at the value we are bringing and make sure we’ve optimized that for the client (and they are clear on that value). For pricing, I can develop an approach that challenges the status quo, rethink what we offer for the price, and leverages more effective delivery models. And on future sales, don’t I own the decision around investments in sales resources? If they aren’t there, isn’t it my responsibility to make that change?
I’m not alone in this ‘trap’. All of us do this every day. We don’t do it with malicious intent, we simply presume that the circumstances are conspiring against us. It’s human nature, and nothing to be ashamed of. But we are also wired with the desire to succeed. With the need to overcome. And with the strength, will, and determination to do so.
So ask yourself, are you going to be the victim, or will you overcome? It’s all in your control – and all it takes is starting with an attitude of ownership and accountability, and the desire to succeed.