It’s Not My Fault…

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

When my daughter was in elementary school she learned a painful lesson.  She had a friend who forgot their permission slip to go on a class trip to an amusement park. This was the last day that the teacher would accept them.  To help her friend, my daughter signed her mom’s name to the permission slip and the teacher saw her do it.  Obviously the teacher was upset by this and punished my daughter by not allowing her to attend the class trip.

When she got home and told us the story, we were very upset with our daughter, but she was absolutely crushed.  This was her end of the year class trip and now she was not allowed to go.  We realized that we could ask the teacher to let her go and tell her that we would punish her for her actions.  Or we could have blamed the school, the teacher, the rules or anything else other than our daughter.  We could have told them that she was under a lot of stress.  That she was only trying to help.  That the school should have allowed more time.  We could have come up with a million excuses for her action.  But we didn’t do that.

We held her responsible for her actions and she was not allowed to go on the class trip.

Oh, how times have changed.  We live in a new age where no one is responsible for anything.  It’s not my fault.  I have problems.  I am disadvantaged.  I’m not responsible.  I forget things.  I’m distracted.  It’s not important to me.  I don’t care.  You should take care of it for me.  Your taking advantage of me.  Your being mean to me. I need more time.  I’ll do it later.  I’m not smart enough.  I can’t remember very well. I just can’t do it…  

We have created more reasons for not doing the right thing than to actually do the right thing. We coddle both young and old into thinking that there is always a way out.   You can talk and excuse your way out of everything.  We have raised a generation that believes that everything is not their fault and encouraged them to use excuses and negativity as a safety valve when they get caught up in a bad decision.  

While I believe we should be sympathetic and understanding to social barriers and personal situations, I believe its time to return to responsibility.  If you make a poor decision, then you should be held accountable for the decision and the ramifications.  We are raising our children and creating a society that believes that their is no defined right or wrong. How messed up is that?  My daughter grew up in the inventive spelling and participation trophy generation.  We don’t want to hurt their imagination or their feelings.  Suppressing responsibility and delaying the truth.  This results in a rude awakening when the real world kicks in.

We can all make reasonable excuses when bad things happen.  We all have a past, personality characteristics and flaws that we have to overcome.  Some situations are complex with many characters and lots of moving parts. Certainly there are countless opportunities to place blame on others. Yet the true leaders of the world understand that taking responsibility is an essential characteristic of leadership.  Making excuses does not make you strong- it makes you a weak leader.  Your team will not respect you if all you do is deflect and blame others.  Accept your past, your flaws, and your situation and overcome them!  

Stay positive and believe in yourself and you can fight through any situation.  Take the time to think before you act.  Seems simple- but we can be so impulsive and ruled by emotion.  Ask for advice if you are unsure.  Sleep on really tough decisions.  Don’t take unnecessary risks. Your integrity is a priceless jewel- don’t risk it.  And in the end, If you mess up or things go badly, take responsibility for the outcome.  This is not always easy but you will be better for it!

So what do you think? Are we living in an age of no responsibility? Do you think we need to own up to our failures and mistakes? Please let me know by pressing “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

                    

Who Am I?

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

If you ask people this rather simple question you are likely to get several answers from each person.  They may provide descriptions such as father, accountant, golfer, husband, believer, friend, etc.  These titles provide some of the identities that make up their being as they see it.  These descriptions are really roles in our lives.  Each of these descriptions are different and unique.  There are also descriptions that may be less role based.  For example, they might say they are compassionate, thoughtful, a leader, a listener, a perfectionist, a servant, etc. These responses would describe the characteristics of who they think they are.

All of this to say- Who Are You?

I believe that much of the value in our roles are based on what WE DO rather than WHAT WE THINK WE ARE.  We tend to tell ourselves that we value roles that we don’t really act out in our everyday lives.  YOU WILL DO WHAT YOU VALUE.  We have a way of filtering out our roles and identities based on the time investment in fulfilling each different role.  

If you value your role as a father, you WILL spend the time that is necessary to fulfill this role.  

If you value your role as an executive, you WILL spend the time that is necessary to fulfill this role.

If you value your role as as a friend, you WILL spend the time that is necessary to fulfill this role.    

If you value your role as a Believer, you WILL spend the time that is necessary to fulfill this role.   

Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at your time and where you allocate your efforts to fulfill a particular role in your life.  By spending a large portion of your time in a particular role, you are placing personal value towards this role and thus you may be minimizing other important roles.  Realize that it is likely that you are choosing certain roles that give YOU the most value.  The roles that feed your ego and make you feel good.  In the midst of this you may be neglecting roles that are vitally important in your life.

I believe that it is a healthy exercise to examine where you are allocating your time and efforts to make sure that they are in balance with your goals and responsibilities.  We have a way of fooling ourselves believing that the role that brings us the most gratification or affirmation is our most important role!  Chances are you may be neglecting some other area of your life. This examination may lead to changes that will help to reduce regrets that will occur when your roles are way out of balance.

Take a quick and honest survey of where you are. You will be happy that you did!

So what do you think? Do we tend to perform the roles that bring us the most affirmation? Do you have an example of this that you can share? Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

No Regrets Monday- Dreams or Responsibility?

This is a quick series of short Monday posts reviewing some of the regrets that folks commonly have when they reach the twilights of their lives. Enjoy!

“I wish I would have followed my dreams instead of doing what was responsible and expected of me.”

When I was in about middle school, I took a standardized test that was supposed to help me determine what my career choice should be based on my current likes and dislikes. I think it was called the Army Test. This was your typical fill in the bubble type test and it went through a bunch of questions where I would chose the item that suited me and what I enjoyed doing. At the end of the test, the results came back with two career choices- Home Builder and Forest Ranger.

So these may seem pretty normal except my father owned a construction business. I was already doing the “Home Builder” thing. I remember being a bit disappointed about this choice. I felt like- duh? What good was that answer? Yet, in retrospect, it may have reinforced my choice to pursue construction as a career.

Even as a boy, I had always loved the outdoors. I loved to fish and spend time in the woods so the other choice also seemed to fit. I also remember pondering that the Forest Ranger path would result in a much lower wage. Seemed like the only responsible choice was the Home Builder.

I don’t dislike construction, but I still feel that pull of the outdoors and the wilderness. In fact, getting out into the woods is my “go to” way to recharge. My way to cope with the stress and the monotony is to disappear into the woods into its breathtaking beauty:

Where it is quiet.

Where I can think.

Where things are in perfect order.

Where I can breathe.

Where I can recharge.

Construction has been good to me but I sometimes wonder about what may have happened if I had taken the Forest Ranger route. Maybe I would be more relaxed. Maybe I would have smiled more. Maybe I would have been more excited getting to work each day. Maybe my relationships would have been better. Maybe the forest is where I really belong.

The real risk in life is sometimes doing what your heart is telling you- not your head. Yet we often equate risk only to money or expectations. But life is more than just money and what other folks expect of you.

There is a reason we dream. There is a reason to the connection. I can’t go back, however, what I know now is this. Do everything you can and in our power to follow your dreams!

No regrets!

Don’t Do This When People Make Mistakes

We all screw up sometime.  Maybe a careless moment or a poor evaluation of the circumstance.  There are consequences when mistakes are made.  I have been “blessed” many times with being clean-up crew when there is a big mess that needs to be cleaned up.

The fact is mistakes are how we learn.  I have really come to realize this as I have gotten older and gained more experience. There are so many times I get that “deja vu” feeling because I am in a similar circumstance I’ve been before and I remember the proper way to navigate out of it.  Experience is huge and you can’t always make up for it.

I have watched mistakes happen and I have watched how various leaders handle the problem.  There is one thing that I have learned that never seems to work in fixing a mess.  This is using blame.

When you are in the midst of fixing a bad situation the worst thing you can do is to immediately go to blame.  There is a time and a place to analyze and discuss the failures that led to the problem, but going to blame will only magnify the issue.

You will likely isolate the person who messed up.

They will feel that it was all their fault.

They will feel attacked.

They will not be in an effective position to help you fight your way out of the mess.

When one of your reports messes up its for a reason, in the vast majority of cases, the person responsible for the screw up is the person you see in the mirror.  They were not trained properly.  They were overwhelmed and you should have provided help. They weren’t ready for the assignment.  They didn’t have the proper resources.  It’s not them- it’s you!

So why are we quick to blame?  It’s our own ego and pride response.  We blame to protect ourselves.  Protect our perfect standing.  It couldn’t be me?  I did everything right!

After the dust settles and emotions die down, then you can take a look at the mistakes that were made.  The only way for learning is to confront the mistakes that were made and make changes so they don’t happen again.  This is the learning experience.  This is life.  The best lessons are learned out of pain.  It’s not fun- but it’s true.  When you have a mess, concentrate on clean up.  Jump in and help make it right.  Then, after things are fixed, take a good look at what happened and fix the problem.  Time to heal allows for objectivity and reflection.

Stay away from blame.  When you feel like you need to play the blame card- STOP AND THINK- about your role in the problem and understand what you are really doing when you blame.  A great leader will accept responsibility.  They understand that they are not perfect.  They are emotionally mature enough to know that they can make mistakes sometimes and they accept the failures of their reports.

Jump in and fix the problem.  Keep your mouth shut.  Talk about what happened later.

So what do you think?  Have you worked with a “blamer” before?  Do you see the connection between blame and pride?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

The Dangers of Meddling

“I can do whatever I want- I’m the boss!”

Have you heard this before?  This is a true statement for the most part.  If you are the boss you can do whatever you want.  But is it healthy?  Is it the right thing to do?  Will it do more harm than good?

vj_9l20fzj0-modestas-urbonas

Meddle: 1. to become involved in the activities and concerns of other people when your involvement is not wanted.  

               2.  to change or handle something in a way that is unwanted or harmful

When you think of meddling you probably think of a mother-in-law giving advice on child rearing or your father lecturing you about your personal finances.  Meddling is not a typical way to describe a management and leadership problem, but I believe that meddling is much more common in business than you might think.  And- I believe that it can be very damaging.

When I typically visit one of our construction sites I will call ahead and talk to the Project Superintendent and give him a heads up that I am on my way to the site.  This is a call out of courtesy and respect.  I am not really obligated to call them- I out rank them.  Others like to show up unannounced to do a “stealth” visit.  I really fail to see a good reason to come unannounced.

The reason I call is that I believe that I am going out on their project site.  Yes- I outrank them, but we have put them in charge of the site.  It’s their domain.  Their responsibility.  Even though I am a company executive, out of respect and to align with responsibilities, I feel that I need to notify them and ask to be out on “their site”.

I believe this theory holds true with most areas of management.  If you put someone in charge of a particular area, then you need to respect their authority and stay out of the day-to-day operation.  You hired this person for a reason and you have given them specific duties.  There is a chain of command for a reason.  If you fail to respect the responsibilities and you drift in and out of issues as the wind blows it can be very damaging.  Here are a few of the problems that can develop:

  1. Undermining Authority: By getting involved in the day-to-day activities, you are blurring the lines of authority.  This adds a layer of confusion to who is really in charge.  The employee will be able to take the path of least resistance.  If you are trying to discipline an employee or work out a particular strategy, your efforts can be completely destroyed by a meddler.
  2. Mixed Messages: By getting involved, you will invariably be sending a different message to the employee.  It is extremely unlikely that your message will be identical to the manager who is their direct report.  If you follow the chain of command, the employee will hear only one voice and this will eliminate confusion.
  3. If Dad Says No- Go Ask Mom: We all know this tactic used by children to get what they want.  This also occurs in management.  If you meddle, you are setting yourself or your manager up to be manipulated.  By getting involved, you have added an additional person to the equation and you may be used to wiggle out of a responsibility.
  4. Nice Guy: If you are the big boss and you want everyone to like you, it will be very difficult for your manager to keep the employee focused on areas of improvement.
  5. Turns Down The Volume: If you are meddling and constantly giving direction instead of following the chain of command then the voice of the manager becomes secondary.  Due to your position, the meddler’s message will always drown out the voice of the manager.  Their voice becomes secondary.
  6. Mr/Ms Everything: You have now set yourself up to be involved in everything.  You will now field questions and problems that you really don’t want to deal with.  You can’t get away.  You can’t take a vacation without anxiety.  You loose your trust in your managers.

These are just a few examples of the damage that can occur when you neglect to follow the lines of authority.

You believe that you are better.

You just can’t stay out of things.

You can’t trust anyone to get it right.

You have to get involved in everything.

You want everyone to rely on you.

You have no real confidence in your managers.

Your opinion is the only one that really counts.

You may be telling yourself that you are just “helping out”.  Well, if that’s the case, then ask them if they really want your help.  Remember, if you truly want to help and be productive, then you need to take complete control of the issue and follow it through to the end.  You can’t have one foot in and one foot out.  You can’t bail out when it’s not fun anymore.

Be very careful.  Being a meddler is addictive. When you are involved in everything and you drift in and out of things responsibility suffers.  Who really has the ball?  Should you really carry everything?  Push everything back through the chain of command.  It’s there for a reason.

Empower your managers.  Support them.  And, most importantly, stay out of their business!

So what do you think?  Have you witnessed this behavior before?  Do you believe that you are entitled to do whatever you want when you are the boss?  Click on “Leave A Comment” and tell me what you think!