A few years ago a friend of mine told me a story that I still cannot get out of mind. It is silly actually. He is an accomplished doctor now with a specialty in gastroenterology and the liver, but I did worry about him at the time. Here is what he said that gave me real pause, “The plane left without me.”
My friend was notoriously late. It hurt him in all types of ways. This time, he just pressed snooze too many times and missed his flight. But as he retold the story, it was the pilot’s fault — not his. I have unfortunately seen this type of thinking ruin people and their careers.
There were multiple excuses and reasons. He thought he just had the worst luck. And if you have been alive for 20+ years, you definitely also know people who look everywhere else when things go wrong, except at themselves.
The best thing you can do when something goes wrong is to accept responsibility and move forward.
Psychologists have studied this type of behavior since at least 1978, when Steven Berglas and Edward E. Jones coined the phrase “self-handicapping.” They concluded that people create excuses so they can maintain public and private self-images of competence.
I have written before about the traits and qualities that I look for in folks that we hire at Aha! (visual product roadmap software for product managers), and taking responsibility is fundamental to hard work and the desire to learn. So, have you thought about what to listen for in your own words to know if you are destroying your own ability to advance? It is simple when you think about it.
If you think or say “It’s not my fault,” you are hurting yourself and those around you.
It is the one belief killing your future. Here is why:
Saying this projects a level of helplessness — that you have no control over your situation, and no ability to make the most of it.
“It’s someone else’s fault,” draws a line in the sand and creates a me vs. you scenario. We are on a team here. You should not position the world around you, or worse, your teammates at work against you.
If you truly believe that most bad things happen to you due to bad luck or someone is out to get you, you will never look deeper within yourself. You must look at yourself first when life and work appears to be most cruel, do understand what you need to do differently next time to be great.
The only way to be successful is to take ultimate responsibility for things that are, and even aren’t your “fault.”
Some say that luck is part of life and at times we are just dealt a bad hand. But most of the time we make our own fortune and control our own destiny. Even when things do go wrong — we control how we respond and what we say.
Use this as motivation to second-guess yourself and others around you when you start thinking, speaking, or hearing “It’s not my fault.”
What do you think when someone says “It’s not my fault”?