Who’s to blame when things don’t go like you wanted, hoped for, expected, were used to and/or comfortable with? Blame is an interesting thing! Some have said we live in a culture of blame, i.e. we are looking to assign blame and are not looking for someone to be responsible.
Ask.com has the following definition for blame culture: Blame culture is a set of attitudes characterized by an unwillingness to take risks or accept responsibility for mistakes because of a fear of criticism or prosecution. People blame each other to avoid being reprimanded or put down.
Right now my thoughts go to the general unwillingness people have to accepting responsibility for life-impacting outcomes that are undesirable or negative, even though you had a hand in creating or bringing them about. This is also a part of the blame culture. Usually the people who “get the blame” for things happening that are undesirable are those in charge…. Doubtless, some responsibility for outcomes lies with those in charge. But does it all lie there?
It occurs to me that people who feel like they are victims, unable to initiate change for the better, have few options in relating to the world around them. “I am helpless, and you are responsible!”, might be something overheard in the silent self-talk of a person in this state of mind.
But is this reality?
When you are raising children you have a lot of time to think about and discuss the subject of responsibility. I don’t want to say I have harped on this with my kids, but I have tried to maintain and transmit a constant idea about a healthy sense of responsibility. One of my core mantras on this subject is:
You cannot be responsible for what your sibling (or co-worker, or boss, or friend, etc., etc., etc.) has done, only what you do (or in some cases, how you responded to what they have done.) Get my drift? Of course, this is on the subject of direct and personal responsibility. In family relationships we are often dealing with cause and effect! You did this, so I did this!! But we are all, individually, trying to grow beyond a life of impulse, right?
You will be responsible for what you have done, and others will be responsible for what they have done. You will be responsible for your reaction or response to what others have done. They will own their responses. Tho it seems simple enough, I realize that doesn’t make it easy.
As a leader, prepare yourself to disappoint and be disappointed. Gird up your mind for this. You will do things that others don’t like, you’ll make mistakes, things that leave people worse off, etc.. Others will also do this to you. If and when it happens, own any part you may have in it. And ask for forgiveness. And do better next time. And be gracious to the ones who have done and will do it to you. Until you do these things you will make little progress toward maturity.