Business Sense – July, 2007
By Nicole Côté

The difference between those who have potential and those who have limited potential is that they are deeply aware that they create their lives, they are responsible for everything in it.

Last week, I had lunch with a young woman who is in trouble after her spouse left her. He abandoned her because he couldn’t accept that she quit her well-paying job to stay home with their youngsters. «It may be that I quit my job too early, that I didn’t validate enough that I enjoyed my spouse’s support before we had children, she said. But, these were my choices and I accept their consequences. I don’t regret anything.» The next day, I heard a cursing CEO blame a team member’s lack of judgment and his predecessor’s mistakes – whose position he had held for over a year – for his failures. I must admit that I wasn’t very impressed.

Where are Responsible Individuals?

When managers who have poorly managed a change look for someone to blame and to fire when their company’s profits are down and shareholders are upset, I wonder if I am dreaming. When I am driving in Montreal dreary streets and I overhear maintenance workers say that their low wages is but a reflection of their supervisors’ incompetence, I question on which planet I live because no one reacts! As if it was normal to blame others for our mistakes!

The Basis of Empowerment

When I was a youngster, my parents and my teachers taught me some principles that I have integrated and refined over time. Here are the principles that I remember:

•  There is no excuse for poor performance

I am wholly responsible for my actions, no matter what my intentions are. When I write, speak, react, it’s me and only me who is doing it. If I believe I can’t do a good job, I can choose not to do anything. If I really don’t have any choice, I must do my best, my very best.

• No one is responsible for the way I feel

When I fully acknowledge my feelings, I can express them simply: “I am sad, upset, lost.” When I assume that others are responsible, I am using a victim’s vocabulary. I then feel «hurt, manipulated and provoked.»

• I do not deserve anything

To be loved, I must try and be lovable. To be respected, I must be respectable and be valued. I must become important!

• Everything has its price

Those who want to have their cake and eat it too live in a fantasy world that prevents them from living fully. I have learnt that generally, my glass is half full and half empty. When I reflect on my luck, I can take full advantage of it and agree to pay the price. I even like my own challenges better than those of others.

• Who risks nothing has nothing

If I never go into the unknown, if I systematically refuse to be stretched, I risk becoming too comfortable and dissatisfied. And I can do it. However, if I so choose, I will have to live with my choices and to be content. I have not earned the right to complain.

• He who is absent is always in the wrong

If I do not want my life to control me, I had better be always present in the centre of my life. If I am not organized, someone may organize me. However, if I do not give myself priority, no one will do it for me.

This is a reminder that True leaders are always responsible for their colleagues. If one of your teams makes a mistake, acknowledge it personally. Apologize and go back to your duties as a leader. Above all, refrain from looking for someone to blame, because you may look like you are… an idiot.