Each of us has a limited amount of energy to expend in the course of a days activity. The application of this energy is a choice and can be exercised in either a positive or negative manner. If we choose to give up our power to external circumstances and expend our energy in a negative manner we will generally produce negative results. Conversely, expenditure of energy in a positive manner tends to produce positive results. The results to which I am referring concern not only the completion of the task at hand but also the impact on the people involved in the process.
Negative energy manifests through seeing oneself as a victim of circumstances, a prisoner of others, helpless and powerless to act and impact the external world in which we live. Visible behaviors exhibited as a result of seeing oneself as a victim are: blaming, "finger pointing", excuses, defensiveness, denial, procrastination, whining, and self-pity. The impact on an individual, organization, or family can be devastating. It is the attitude that: "My life is crummy, and it is someone else's fault".
Gallup conducted a study in 2001 concluding that less than 30% of American workers are fully engaged at work, 55% are disengaged and 19% are actively disengaged. This means that those actively disengaged are not only unhappy with their circumstances but regularly share those feelings with colleagues. Gallup estimates the cost of disengaged workers runs into the trillions of dollars. The study also concluded that the longer an individual stays with an organization the more disengaged they become. My own finding in working with teams at Team Trek tends to support the Gallup data.
The disengagement process is endemic in our society and the answer to this problem is not learning more skills but rather helping people change the way they think about themselves and their reactions to the external circumstances of life. The principle at work here is that we are what we think and how we think produces predictable behavior in our lives.
The antidote to "victim" or "prison" thinking is what I call 100% Responsibility. It is replacing the false belief that others are responsible for my actions and reactions with: "I am 100% responsible for how I choose to respond to the circumstances of life." This means I choose to live my life with no excuses, blaming, or self-pity. I manage my own energy and choose how I respond to what happens to me regardless of how unfair it may seem.
Living a life of 100% Responsibility produces the freedom to act to acquire the skills of leadership and influence with others. If there is always an excuse for why I can't do the right thing then what is the point of acquiring the skills to begin with? Conversely, the more I own my own attitude and control my own beliefs and actions the more effective human being I become. This attitude is foundational to becoming the kind of leader my potential indicates. I must first lead myself then I can lead others.
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