This blog post is publishing on New Year’s Day, so I feel obligated to speak to that. Not just obligated, I actually really want to talk about this.
Look, everyone and their mom is saying how bad 2020 sucked. I get it. I’m on that band wagon too. We are all looking for a new year to give us another chance. We want a mulligan, a do over, a clean slate, a new chance. I get it. I want the same thing. There is just one catch though. If we don’t change anything, why should we expect different results in 2021?
The instant you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you acquire the power to change it.Ed Mylett
2020 showed us all that we have a powerful denial of personal responsibility. I saw it in myself, in my tribe, and in our culture too. Let’s just kick it off with an example that will get everyone fired up. How many people believed that their Covid situation was President Donald Trump’s fault? I would say quite a few as that was one of the top reasons older voters did not vote for him. I am going to be a bit controversial here and say plainly that the President is not responsible for my situation.
This does not deny external factors (i.e. policy does impact our lives). There are always going to be external factors that we cannot control. Who do I blame for tornados? (There were tornados and “natural evil” before there was a global warming concern, so don’t come at me with that nonsense). Blame is an attempt to shirk responsibility. I cannot blame politicians for global warming when I continue to consume products that cause global warming! Personally, I blame myself for a lot failures. It is an odd mental exercise to separate myself from my own actions so I don’t have to feel responsibility for the failure. I do this because I am afraid of what it will mean for me if I accept responsibility. Will I lose my friends? Will I lose my respect?
When we stop blaming both others and ourselves for things and accept responsibility for our lives, we don’t lose anything. We GAIN power. That power is what is needed to create change in our lives. Blame takes our personal power and gives it someone else. When we give our power away, we will adopt a victim mentality. All of us who have worked to create meaningful change in ourselves or our environment know that victim mentality is the first thing that has to go to be successful. It makes every change harder to start and keeps it from sticking. The solution to victim mentality is personal responsibility.
When I became a supervisor for my corporate job, I made everyone responsible for everyone else. Meaning if their peers failed then they failed their goal as well. They were all outraged and I had to have a lot of difficult conversations. What it boiled down to was that if they were responsible for others, then they would not be able to blame anyone for anything. They no longer had that free exit. They had no back door they could sneak out when the crap hit the fan. Once they finally adopted the responsibility, they held each other accountable, identified and solved their own problems. The result was that my team was the highest performing team in our group. I supported them, but the achievement was completely theirs. I could not take credit for what they accomplished because they did it themselves.
That is what I would ask all of us to do this year. Lets take responsibility for our life. Not just partial responsibility. Let’s accept responsibility for everything from Covid to Murder Hornets and everything in between. If we do this, we will take back our personal power and create meaningful change.
Cheers to a new year!