A lot of people feel like they're always the victim. For those people, nothing is ever quite their fault, and something has always just happened to them. Surely sometimes, they're right. Things do happen that change outcomes that people simply can't control. But generally, playing the victim won't get you far. This is certainly true in business, where accountability is key to success.

YPO member Harjit Gill is too busy to play the victim. Gill is the co-founder and CEO of X-Halo, a respiratory healthcare company producing technology that senses respiratory disease attacks before they occur. She was recently awarded the YPO 2018 Global Innovation Award for the device. As an entrepreneur, Gill knows that things won't always go her way. What's important is how you persevere.

Here are Gill's tips on how you can take avoid the victim mentality in your life and work:

1. Take Absolute Ownership

Gill is never one to pass the buck. She knows there will be struggles: "Getting knocked down is inevitable. It's how you fight back that's important." She warns, "When things go wrong, blaming others only leads to wasted time and a cycle of self-doubt and pity." To avoid that trap, she advises, "Don't wait to be told things are wrong or that you have messed up. Step up and own it as soon as you see it." In Gill's opinion, "This is what gives you an edge. Ownership is liberating and empowering - you are now in the position to change the outcome." Don't let anyone else make what should be your decisions: "In the end, the buck stops with me, because it's my life."

2. Buck Up!

If getting knocked down is inevitable, so is your need for resilience. Gill says, "I've dealt with adversity and negativity. I've had managers, even well-meaning ones, tell me that my goals were impossible." Deal with it, she says: "Wallowing does not move you forward. And besides, meeting adversity head on to change an outcome is so much more rewarding." So bring it on!

3. Have Focus and Flexibility

"In the infamous words of Mike Tyson, 'Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,'" quotes Gill. She understands that rigidity is a path to nowhere, and leaders need to know what's most important. Gill advises, "Focus on the most essential things that need to be done, and do not get side-tracked. Strip away the non-essentials and be very clear where you want to make an impact." She goes on: "Nothing is cast in iron. Everything can be solved or changed. There are many different solutions and outcomes to a problem. The trick is to remain open and try different things." Be resilient, Gill says, because "solutions are not always obvious, and they may require you to try many different options and fail many times before succeeding." Concentrate on what's fundamental, and explore all the options.

4. Ask for Help

Gill believes that hubris is a killer. She advises, "Accept you are not a perfect leader - there isn't one. Smart leaders build teams that compensate for what the leader lacks." Gill also believes that people want to be part of success. Therefore, she says, "Don't shy away from asking for help. People are generous and want to help." There's also an opportunity here to engage your team: "Cultivate regular feedback and assume it comes from a good place. In doing this, you are both learning and giving people the opportunity to be heard. This also creates buy in." Demonstrating a willingness to ask for help and accept feedback develops deep trust between management and employees.

5. Understand the Politics

Gill believes that every leader needs to understand their environment. "Politics in an organization is all about those that support you and those that don't." Leaders must be acutely aware of where they stand. Gill advises, "Map this out. I always have a list of supporters, detractors, and neutrals. If you need majority support, consciously target people you need to win over. Usually, I first try to convert the neutrals." Having this awareness allows a leader to use their influence most efficiently and at the right time.

6. Make Time for Yourself

Gill believes that work cannot be the ultimate reward. "Make time for friends, family and interests. This is a critical motivator for me. I want to enjoy my life to the fullest!" Better yet, make a point of spreading this attitude. Gill says, "I am a great believer in celebrations, and I do this at every opportunity. We celebrate all holidays, everything from Christmas, to Chinese New Year, to Divali!" Your enthusiasm will be contagious, at home and at work.

Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.

Published on: Jun 1, 2018
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