Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Take Responsibility

Technique Tuesday

Taking responsibility doesn't mean accepting blame. Blame is, in fact, nothing more than shifting responsibility.

Taking responsibility is really about getting past blame and asking hard questions like, "What did I learn from that situation?" "What will I do differently the next time I'm in a similar situation."

Unfortunately, it's a hard thing to do. As I mentioned yesterday, in a world full of users we learn early and often how much easier it is if we can avoid responsibility. For example, every time there's a problem, someone says, "There ought to be a law." The more laws we add, the more responsibility we shift to the government.

The tendency to claim that we are exceptions is even more insidious. A great many people claim excuses because they belong to some disadvantaged group. Please understand: I know that life isn't fair and that people do a great job of being crappy to each other; there are a great many wrongs that should be righted. But you're going to have to wait a long time for things to get better if you don't ever ask yourself, "Is there anything I can do?"

Lest this wax too political, let's bring the discussion back to problem solving. The best problem solvers in my experience are more concerned with how to go forward than with what caused the problem. The history of the failure is only important to the degree that it shows the way to the solution. In other words, they take positive responsibility to resolve the matter.

In the immortal words of Rush (the band) from their song, Limelight,
Those who wish to be must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation, the underlying theme

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net