Ananya, my friend’s four year old daughter was caught throwing away her socks and when questioned why she did so, she quickly blamed it on her sister who had left for school at least three hours earlier. This was how I too was as a Kid, and am afraid as an adult too for a very long time. I fall into this habit even now a number of times if I don’t catch myself in the act.
Not My Fault
Let’s look at some of the common examples:
“I didn’t get Free seat in college because of reservation system”
“My weight increased because of canteen food”
“I didn’t get promoted because my boss is unfair to me”
“My start up failed because the Venture Capitalists did not share my vision”
This is a story line, we tell ourselves to absolve ourselves of the the responsibility for our failures. But by doing so, we are also willing to loose control over how we respond to the situation and we have no plan for preventing a recurrence of the event.
It’s My Fault
Let’s try to re frame the above situation and see how this could have been my fault.
“It’s my fault that I did not score sufficiently to get my preferred seat in my preferred college in my category.”
“It’s my fault that I hate more than that I should and did not get sufficient exercise resulting in my weight gain”
“It’s my fault that I was unsuccessful in proving my worth convincingly enough to qualify for the promotion”
“It’s my fault that I did not choose the right investors who shared my vision and could not generate sufficient funds or get the business generating positive cash flow resulting in my business failure”
Like most of my other blog posts, this too is meant for me more than to anyone else. I have been really guilt of this at work and is personal life in trying to pass the buck. One person I know who has handled it very well is Hari, my husband. He always says “We forgot to lock the door”, never “You got forgot to lock the door.” (Yeah, we did leave the home unlocked by mistake !!).
“We missed that exit. Now we have to drive another 10 Km for the next one” and not “Why were you not paying attention to the google Maps and tell me when the Exit came up?”. Although the second statement would have been factually correct in both cases, by taking join responsibility for a mistake, we are quickly able to move on to solving the situation or preventing a recurrence rather than wasting time in back and forth in blame game. (It goes without saying I am not accept these factually correct statements at face value to start with… :P)
Don’t take Blame, take responsibility
There is also another extreme version of this game, when one takes blame for the situation and feels guilty about the situation much like kids who feel guilty for situations that they are unable to comprehend like parent’s separation.
We too do that as adults, at times taking blame without taking corrective action. Accepting fault, is not about taking blame and sulking on it, but about
(1) Acknowledging our action or inaction that resulted in a particular outcome without creating a negative self-image.
(2) Taking responsibility and taking action to rectify the situation
When you acknowledge your part in the resultant outcome, you are able to make amends and learn from the outcome. It is only our failure to learn from unfavorable outcomes that cause the outcomes to become a failure.