There’s only a handful of moments in life where you can honestly say that someone/something has really opened your eye,s and that this time they are staying open. It’s dead easy to say ‘I hear you’, and 99% of the time that means I literally physically heard what you said, but I’m gonna do f*** all with that information.
In late 2009 we were asked to attend a series of workshops in the USSR, building morale and muscle. It was as hard, controversial and as grueling as you would expect from Russia. However, the outcome was the opposite. It was enlightening, but so darn obvious.
We were asked to talk about experiences where we felt we had been hard done by (screwed over), that were truly out of our control.
“I was fired from a design job, by some wan*** in the management team I had never even seen before, 2 days before Christmas and given nothing, not even a friggin Christmas card!” moaned Dan, pretty emotionally as well. (Believe it or not, Russian’s are incredibly emotional people)
“Your fault” was the response from the mentor. Period.
He crushed him. Everyone in the room was a little unnerved, not knowing whether this was said for effect or not. It wasn’t said for effect, he meant what he said, both words.
His view was that in life you basically have two choices to make, to either take responsibility for things that happen to you, or to play the victim. The designer had chosen to play the victim, he had made no effort to interact, to meet any of the management team, and had lived in his own world for 2 years. So when the big boss approached him, having sent emails warning people that redundancies were coming, Dan of course had no idea who he was talking to or what they were talking about. BAM!
After 2 days of these workshops and various tragedies and tears, even Dan agreed that he was probably to blame. He hated his previous job and should have left, not waited for someone to fire him. It was in his hands, and only he could make something out of it, or screw it up.
This is the same for every Tom, Dick, Harry, or Sergey. If you work somewhere and you don’t like it–change it. If you can’t or they won’t listen, try something else, if that doesn’t work and nothing else will then leave, ‘cause you’re in the wrong job!
If everybody were to take responsibility for what they did, who they’re with and what they produce, we would be 1000% more productive and ultimately happier (it’s a guess but likely true). Because the only person to blame if it goes wrong is you.
It’s not the easiest rule to apply but it works. It’s one of continual self-assessment, analysis and criticism. It keeps us on our toes and helps keep our feet on the ground. And it all starts with the idea of simply being responsible. Period.