Take Responsibility For Setbacks, Not Just Successes

The dog ate my homework … Jan was furious she didn’t get that big promotion. “I deserved it,” she complained. “The boss is a jerk. My company doesn’t get it. The person who got the promotion instead of me is a suck-up.”

When life doesn’t go the way we hope, it’s easy to attribute blame to external factors. It’s much simpler to accept that things just aren’t fair than taking an introspective look in the mirror. We’re happy to take all the credit when things go right, but sometimes fail to accept personal responsibility when we hit with a setback.

In addition to casting blame on others, we often make excuses for our failure to deliver. “If I only had a bigger network.” “I never had the chance to learn what I needed.” “I’m too old, young, tall, short, skinny or fat.” “The dog ate my homework.” Making excuses is much easier than holding yourself accountable.

You can always find some external reason why you weren’t able to make the grade.

In contrast, the most successful people take personal responsibility for the good and the bad in life. If they’re late to work, they don’t blame the traffic or weather. Instead, they attribute their tardiness to their own behavior. “I’m late because I didn’t set my alarm early enough knowing there would be bad weather and slow traffic.”

In today’s world, achieving success is more accessible than ever. Unlimited information is yours with a click. Capital to start a business is increasingly available. Scholarships, grants, and training programs are within reach to more people than any time in history. Most of the typical excuses have run dry.

Instead of playing the victim, what could Jan have done differently to score that promotion? Maybe she could have studied her industry for 30 minutes each night for the six months prior to her boss’ decision. The library is rarely closed after all. She could have reached out to 30 potential mentors to ensure she would land at least one experienced coach to help realize her goals. She could have had a series of breakfast meetings with that boss to build the relationship and seek guidance on how to advance her career. She could have delivered something above and beyond on every single project she was assigned. Or she could have worked on herself, developing more empathy, compassion, resilience, and passion — attributes that get noticed at work.

Let’s stop casting blame and hiding behind feeble excuses. Each of us has both the opportunity and responsibility to shape our own lives and seize our full potential. It’s time to direct all our energy to delivering on our goals instead of justifying our misses.

I’d love to tell you more, but the dog ate my homework.