Please take a moment and share in an exercise in personal accountability with me. It's short and sweet I promise…
Take your right hand and point at something nearby that frustrates you, annoys you, or makes you angry. What was it? The telephone? The lengthy to-do list laying on your desk? Or perhaps it is your manager's office or a co-worker in a neighboring cubicle?
Now take a good look at the hand you are pointing with. Do you notice anything peculiar?
Every time you point your finger at someone or something else there are three fingers pointing right back at you. It is impossible to point the finger of blame at someone or something without simultaneously pointing a finger back at oneself.
You might be asking yourself what exactly this is supposed to mean. Let me explain…
So often we point the finger of blame at others and don't even consider that we ourselves may be partially (or even wholly) responsible for the situation or outcome we are upset with. This can be a bitter pill to swallow, but an overwhelming percentage of the time it is true - - we are all accountable in some form for the results we achieve (or fail to achieve) and our situation in live.
Take another look at this which you pointed at a few minutes ago. Instead of blaming this person or thing for your troubles, take a moment to think about how your actions (or lack thereof) have impacted your situation.
- Are you blaming the telephone for your high level of stress when you haven't done an adequate job of taking care of your customers' needs lately?
- Are you pointing a finger at your to-do list even though you habitually procrastinate tacking items you know are important?
- Do you blame your manager for not effectively communicating her performance expectations to you although you have never asked for clarification of what she is expecting from you?
My intent here is not to make you feel like a bad person, but rather to get you to realize that every time you blame someone or something else you are in some way responsible for your situation as well.
It all boils down to personal accountability. Personal accountability is all about taking responsibility for your actions and asking yourself what you can do to make things better. Examples…
- What can I do to better serve my customers and reduce the number of complaints I receive?
- What can I do to ensure that I am keeping up with my workload? How can I better prioritize my responsibilities and work more productively and effectively?
- How can I better communicate with my supervisor to ensure that I clearly understand what is expected of me?
When we ask better questions of ourselves, we get better results. Period.
The next time you consider pointing a finger in blame someone or something else, remember that you are pointing three fingers right back at yourself and ask yourself what you can do to improve your current situation.