It’s always your fault

It’s really a hard truth to take the blame. It’s an even harder truth to take the blame when you know that someone or something else caused a problem for you. But in reality, you should always take the blame first.

But never end with that. I’ll explain why before we’re done.

Sometimes the problem is in the word. “Blame” and “Fault” have a negative connotations. “Responsibility” is a much better word to use. And it’s appropriate. Almost every situation that negatively impedes our progress was our doing in some way. Let’s look at some simple ones.

Imagine one day you leave work and are late. An accident causes traffic. Who’s fault is it that you’re late? Simple answer: You should always plan for traffic, especially if it is important that you arrive on time. Similarly, the power goes out and your alarm clock doesn’t wake you up? Why don’t you have your clock on a batter backup.

Side note: my router and alarm clock are both on a computer-grade battery backup for this very reason.

Not all situations are so clear though. Have you ever had an unavoidable interaction with someone and you were in a bad mood? Well in this case, while the situation wasn’t your responsibility, your response to the situation is. If you’re in a bad mood it IS your choice to be in a bad mood.

The second piece of responsibility is a little deeper. It is understanding that you can control your response to those things, events, people, and whatever that are ACTUALLY out of your control. This is important. In the above example, if you let someone put you in a bad mood, you’ve given control of who you are to them.

I’ll say that again. When a situation or event changes your mood for the worse, you’ve given control over to that person or situation. To lead a better life, a more productive life, it is important not to let other people and events control you.

Getting back to taking blame, or fault, or responsibility. There’s a part of this I want to leave you with. In discussing “Extreme Ownership” (A nearly similar concept as this) Jocko Willink points out that when you’re more likely to accept responsibility for whatever situation you’re in, you’re more likely to get help getting out. You won’t be known as a person who makes excuses. And when someone accuses you of creating a problem and you say no, that wasn’t me, you’ll have a reputation and trust to back it up.

So what’s the take here? In the scope of locus of control, be more of an “internal” person. Look inside for fault first so you can improve who you are.

Then, and this is important, also look to understand if there were forces out of your control as well. Becuase you will need to address those too. Why start with you first? Because if you look outside yourself first you will always find something to blame. And if you stop there, and it’s very tempting to do so, you’ll never have the opportunity to identify an area of growth for yourself.