It's all your fault -- the outcomes you're experiencing in your life and business, that is. Don't worry, it's all my fault too. Put a little more gently, we're all responsible for the circumstances we're working and living with.

The outcomes of previously made decisions in our lives are ours to own-- regardless of whether we were directly involved in the activity or not. You're complicit in creating the circumstances and cultures in which you operate and, if they're not working, it's on you to either move on or change them. But I realize it can be uncomfortable to admit it.

It's tough step up and take personal responsibility. This can be especially difficult- but I'd argue even more important- when you're already feeling down. This view rings true for me. So true, in fact, that I believe adopting this notion that "it's all your fault" is the key to more happiness and success in your business and life.

We've been conditioned to look for people and events to blame when things go wrong. It's a by-product of our analytical approach to decision-making. We go looking for a root cause, presumably to understand the problem and fix it, and what we end up doing is finding ways to excuse ourselves from taking responsibility -- often because we work in complex systems, and there is plenty of blame to spread around.

Blaming other people and events for your problems sucks time and energy -- time and energy that could be used actually fix the issue. There is little you can do with blame other than to confront someone (if it's a person) or whine (if it's an event.) Once you've done both, you're stuck with nowhere left to go.

If you've been operating on this principle of blame-throwing in your business, you've also made it nearly impossible for the people around you to do their best work. It's no surprise that your staff, colleagues, and even clients are defensive when you lay the blame on them. Then, the more blame you dole out, the more closed up and unwilling to take chances they are. All of these conditions are terrible for business. They're also terrible if you're trying to build or sustain a healthy personal relationship. Blame is a deal-killer on many fronts.

It's much easier and ultimately more productive to just take ownership because, simply put, accepting fault enables you to take reparative action more quickly and decisively. When you stop blaming other people or your circumstances, you empower yourself to do something about it. Changing this mindset frees you up to make tremendous gains in health, money, and even love.

Why don't we accept ownership for our circumstances more often? Because we fear that it's going to feel bad to be the one that messed up. Taking on the weight of this responsibility seems like a blow to the ego--until you do it. Then, you see that you can also be the one to fix the problem. Once you take responsibility for what happened, you can see more clearly the specific actions needed to get to a better place.

Here's a quick exercise: Take a few minutes to inventory some of the important things that aren't going well in your life. Pick 2 or 3. What are you telling yourself right now about those things? I'll share some of mine.

My business's growth has plateaued over the last couple of months. I'd love to blame my clients for not increasing their purchases (as I'd planned for them). Accepting fault for this outcome reveals that I haven't sufficiently shown them the value they'd get from these added services. See? Now I have an action item.

My baby's sleep has regressed -- he's now waking up a couple of times per night. Of course, it's his fault! He's the one crying at 4am. Accepting fault for this outcome reveals that I haven't done any reading on this common two-year-old phase, consulted any experts, or changed his routine at all. Instead, I've been stuck chugging coffee and complaining to anyone who will listen. There's an action item.

What's going on in your business or life where you've fallen into a rut of blaming others? What would happen if you looked at that from another perspective and took ownership for everything--all of it? What would you do differently?

Published on: Nov 28, 2016
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