Stop Blaming and Start Changing Yourself!

Apr 18, 2024
I’m ready to admit my leadership failures.

I’ve struggled to take full responsibility and accountability for some of the decisions I made, actions I took, and ways of being I operated within as a leader.

My leadership development was aligned with all the industry best practices, trainings, and development programs. I followed the recommendations, accepted and integrated the feedback I received, and learned from the coaching I was given by leaders I worked with regularly.

By all objective standards and criteria, I was doing leadership “right.” And actually, I know many of the people who worked with me directly felt I did a great job. 

Heck, they even nominated me for a Manager of the Year Gallup Award.

But here’s the thing…

The more I now peel back the layers of workplace patterns and practices, traditional ways of being and working, and their collectively negative impact on people and humanity, the worse I feel about my role in the system.

Who is to blame?

We can blame the business, criticize the company, complain about corporate, or put responsibility on the organization. But these are really just legal entities.

Until AI surpasses human intelligence and begins independently running businesses and making decisions, humans are currently responsible for everything that happens in a business, company, or organization.

It’s also easy to blame other people. 

The leaders blame different generations or employee populations saying they’re unwilling to work, want too much, expect the world, lack the experience or capabilities.

Likewise, individuals blame the leaders saying they’re out of touch, power hungry, unreasonable, unfair, biased, and toxic.

Nearly everywhere you look, someone is blaming someone else for the problems and challenges we’re facing in the workplace.

But the truth is…we are all responsible for ourselves and our part. 

We need to ask ourselves:

  • Are we willing to get past our defensive survival mechanisms causing us to outright reject what calls our ways of being into question? 
  • Are we willing to acknowledge our past patterns and practices that potentially contributed to the current state? 
  • Most importantly, are we willing to evolve ourselves and our part or contribution to the challenges? 
  • Are we then willing to evolve our workplace practices to better support the humans that work within them?

While everyone has some role and level of responsibility for the current state, of course leaders must bear more of the responsibility as they have more power and influence. 

As leaders, we get to make investment or cost-cutting decisions, acquisition or sales decisions, set the vision, values and strategy, establish policies and procedures, and determine the overall experience of the entity.

Admitting My Role in the System

I wish I could blame someone else, but the truth is, I was part of that system. 

I was a leader who...

I was a leader who contributed to, made, and executed decisions that led to traumatic terminations, implemented one-sided power policies, and perpetuated practices that promoted sustained stress.

I was a leader who accepted and allowed inappropriate comments, behavior, and actions to occur unchecked. 

I was a leader who laughed and said, “Don’t say that to anyone else.” 

I was a leader who accepted being treated differently as a woman. 

I was a leader who tried to be “OK” with how things worked even when it didn’t feel okay.

I was a leader who thought you had to work an average of 50 hours a week to be a successful leader. I was a leader who pushed others to do the same. 

I was a leader who gave feedback based on my preferences and perspective without considering an alternative. 

I was a leader who ignored a blatant lack of diversity and disparity of treatment.

I was a leader who achieved successful results. 

And I was a leader who crashed and burned out hard.

I was a leader who did my best to be my best. 

But my definition and understanding of exceptional leadership and performance was lacking. My knowledge and experience with the science of human performance was nonexistent. I blindly followed the guidance of others and accepted it as truth.

Through the painful experience of burning out and the experiences that followed it, operating outside that world, I gained greater perspective.

I have talked with hundreds of people who are suffering and struggling in the current climate. I heard story after story of heartbreak and the consequences of excess stress. 

  • Stories about the impact on physical bodies and people's health. 
  • Stories about damaged relationships and families. 
  • Stories about divorce, substance abuse, addiction, and violence.
  • Stories about the mental health of children impacted. 
  • Stories about barely making enough to survive. 
  • Stories about terrible toxic treatment and injustice.

I can now see clearly how the problems weren’t all because of someone else, a toxic leader, or a toxic environment. The problems can’t all be blamed on a single bad actor.

The problems are the collective result of each of us believing we aren’t part of it, it’s not our fault, and we can’t change it. 

If we all keep blaming someone else or dismissing that our actions and behaviors might also be contributing, then nothing will ever change.

The Better Way

What if we stop trying to blame someone in particular? 

Instead, we all accept we are contributing in some way to the issues, and most importantly, we all agree to take action to fix it in whatever way we can.

The system itself is built to perpetuate past patterns and practices. 

The human body is built to minimize energy expenditure and use the strongest neural pathways. Our body and brains don’t want to change.

Similarly, staying the same is easier than changing the way we work. 

Reimagining and wisdoming the world of work with more creativity, compassion, and courage is harder than just keeping on in the same patterns and ways of working.

My dad always used to tell me:

 "The pain of staying the same has to outweigh the pain of change."

At least in this instance, he is absolutely right. To stay the same seems easier and less painful than changing. Unless we can see how staying the same is going to ultimately cause us more pain. 

To stay the same is easier, but to bring change substantially improves the possibility of more positive, productive and impactful experiences for humans everywhere.

Each person who chooses to evolve and exist differently. 

Each leader who does so for themselves and their teams. 

Each workplace that evolves its outdated practices. 

Eventually, the changes will add up together into massive progress.

It’d be easier to fight an enemy we hate and can blame. 

But if we are part of the enemy, then we have to choose the harder path…

  • Of being coherent enough to stay present, balanced, aware and conscious of your experiences, behaviors and actions.
  • Of accepting our choices are contributing to the current experience.
  • Of being creative enough to identify new solutions and ways of working.
  • Of fighting against our own past patterns and ways of being. 
  • Of pushing past and breaking through boundaries to see new perspectives.
  • Of being compassionate enough to make choices that consider the impact on us and other humans.
  • Of being willing to be courageous and brave enough to break with tradition and try new techniques and tactics to see if we get a better result.

Where are the leaders who are willing to be pioneers of practices that transform people’s performance?

Who are the leaders with the creativity to consider entirely new ways of working?
Who are the leaders with the compassion to empathize with the challenges of people at work and take action to address them?
Who are the leaders with the courage to start taking action immediately?
Who are the leaders with the coherence to remain present, respond rather than react, and reflect on their experiences?

Are you one of these leaders?

I’m ready to do the work. 

I’m ready to admit my part and evolve myself. 

I’m ready to try new ways of being and working to create better results and experiences.

Are you ready?

Are you ready to join me in evolving your people, past patterns, and practices that are preventing people (and business) from operating at their (its) peak performance?

Interested in Learning More?

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