It’s the biggest problem we see at Team Trek. It breeds mistrust. It erodes self-confidence. It keeps us stuck. And, it ultimately destroys teams. We call the problem “prison thinking” – you may recognize it as chronic complaining, blaming and excuse-making. It’s the false belief that I’m a prisoner or victim of my circumstances. It takes the form of chronic blaming and complaining – ruminating on how bad or unfair a situation is without regard to what I’m going to do to improve the outcome.
It’s tempting to blame and make excuses, and there are plenty of people eager to commiserate with us and tell us how right we are to do so. The problem is, when I engage in this way of thinking, I’m in effect saying, “I’m helpless to influence the outcome”. It’s a miserable way to live and one of the biggest obstacles to happiness and success in life.
What’s the Antidote?
The good news is I can walk out of this prison cell any time I want. I have the key – it’s called 100% Responsibility. I take 100% Responsibility for how I choose to respond to everyone and everything in my life. This does not mean I’m at fault for everything that happens. It does mean when circumstances aren’t to my liking, I have a choice to either complain about how bad it is or focus on a solution to make it better. It’s the stubborn refusal to let who I am and how I respond be conditioned on my circumstances. And it always leads to freedom.
Take Responsibility for Your Part
100% Responsibility starts with seeing yourself as part of the problem and the solution. Whenever a problem arises, immediately take full responsibility for any part you have played. Acknowledge the problem for what it is – don’t exaggerate it or minimize it. Be quick to apologize when appropriate. This means setting aside your pride and refusing to rationalize your behavior. It also means refusing to justify your reaction because of someone else’s bad behavior.
Take Responsibility for the Solution
Take ownership for what happens next. Be quick to take responsibility for what you’re going to do about the problem, even if you’re not at fault for creating the problem. The quicker you move from naming the problem to focusing on the solution, the more effective – and freer – you’re going to be.
Ask Yourself Better Questions
When something happens that you don’t like it’s normal to have an emotional response. However, there’s a big difference between experiencing strong emotion and letting that emotion control you. The key to developing the habit of taking 100% Responsibility is learning to stop and think when things aren’t right. Refuse to complain, blame or make excuses, and instead ask yourself these two questions:
Let your answers to these questions guide your response. That’s 100% Responsibility. It's not an easy concept, and it’s not always fair. However, it always leads to freedom.
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