Monday, May 18, 2009

It’s your fault. There, I feel better.

It’s easy to lay blame when things don’t go right. People blame the weather for how they’re feeling. They blame the economy for their own financial situation. Schoolyards, boardrooms and the halls of Washington reverberate with outrage as people try to assign blame to someone else. It’s easier. It’s easier to dispense blame than to accept accountability. Some people in the world have two viewpoints, yours and mine. When things go wrong, the fault is yours. When things go right, the credit is mine. Blame helps aid this belief. When I blame, I am able to shift accountability and shirk responsibility. Whew, what a relief. Unfortunately, I also give up power and leadership credibility. If I exert any effort to blame someone other than myself for some event, I empower him or her and weaken me.

When we blame someone, we are declaring that the responsibility was his or hers and it was misused. To be clear, there are times in our lives when this is empirically true. We see people squirm and contort all sorts of stories to shed the skin of responsibility they had. And more often than not, how do they respond? By blaming others. Watch any Sunday morning news program for ample examples.

Why are we, the most freedom loving people, so regularly ready to give up our power? It’s because responsibility scares most of us. What if we screw up? People might blame us.

There are two ways to interrupt this vicious cycle. One is to accept blame that is rightfully yours. You can probably share it with someone else, for few are blameless, but it’s better to take it alone. Accepting responsibility knocks the breath out of blame. Accept it, fix what you can and move on. If you dwell on it, you are just perpetuating the blame on yourself. What a waste.

The second way to begin eliminating the destructive power of blame is to overcompensate with its opposite, praise. Do you feel you are getting too much praise in your life? Do you get too much recognition for all the good things you do everyday? Some may say they don’t need praise. I say, they just don’t realize they need it. Do you feel like you are receiving more blame than praise? What are you finding more fault or admiration with others? Even if you are not speaking the words, your mind is either assigning blame or praise, while you wait in line, read an article, watch the news, listen to the radio, attend a lecture or rally, or sip a drink at a bar. You can’t turn off these thoughts but you can ensure your focus is more on praise and what’s going right with your world and less on blame and what’s going wrong.

Please pass this message on to a friend or colleague, and encourage them to sign up for Karl Bimshas’ Reflections on Leadership.

If you want more than just a periodic reminder of personal development activities, or want a new perspective, consider an accountability partner. Send me an email at and I’ll send you information on Personal Consulting.

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