Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Failure isn’t my fault

or is it? Failure of one sort or another happens to all of us. We try, fail, try again.. or make excuses! Failure in life itself, failure to achieve your goals and dreams because of ___ (fill in the blank) seems on the surface to be acceptable. At least, I know a few people who have good reasons for not ‘getting there’, wherever ‘there’ is for them. Their divorce, their children (having to care for them), their boss, their looks, the list goes on. I never felt this was quite sufficient an excuse but never had a handle on how to respond either. Once in a conversation with someone good at excuses for why not but many dreams, growing tired of listening to the dreams that would never happen, I said, Less talk! More action! And I walked away wondering, Why do some of us stop at talk? What issues are we not dealing with or what nice psychological reason is there for some of us to end up stalled out?

Now I can’t say a lot, not being a ‘getting there’ kind of person myself. However I never wanted to that much, being happy as a SAHM and not needing to work. Yet I admit at this point that I have excuses for not working that would all fall aside if I really needed to work. So what is the reason we just quit? We read about people who overcame odds that seemed insurmountable or at least very daunting. They did it and we tend to give them some marvelous characteristic uncommon in most men to say, Yeah, they are remarkable people. Meaning, I’m not don’t expect this of me.

Then my son handed me a book. (Some of you knew this was coming right? My children could count on it being a book.) The idea was that someone else needed it, and from the title I did not see much point in my reading it. Then I opened it and read the first chapter.

Oh my. This guy nails it. 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make And How You Can Avoid Them, by W. Steven Brown. Doesn’t really sound like a title for a book just anyone would want to read does it? It did not take many pages though for me to realize this could be a good one for any of us.

We’ve all heard the phrase, the buck stops here. Brown says there is a way to predict failure: People will fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially acceptable excuses for failure. Ouch. There’s another term I’ve heard a lot lately: accountability. So we can have our excuses, uh I mean reasons, and accept failure as something beyond our ability to change, or we can be accountable and accept responsibility. I used to tell my children this very thing. We could blame it on someone (something) else, which meant it was out of our hands, we don’t have the power to do anything to fix this, change this, etc. Or take personal responsibility and then have the power to change things because it is ours. Ownership gives us power to have an effect. To change it, to overcome it, to do whatever is needed for a better outcome.

This is so basic I think yet, something many of us tend to do. It isn’t my fault, I can’t help it – if only ___ then ___ (fill in the blanks, if only I’d had better chances and an education, I’d have a better lifestyle.) Well that might be true, but the question really is, so what are you going to do about it?

So now when someone tells me their dreams and their why nots, will I have the courage and tact to ask gracefully – so you know the problems and what you wish for, what are you going to DO about it? And sometimes, I will need to ask myself that very question.

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