It's funny, when things go well everyone seemingly wants to step up and take the credit, but when things go badly, therein starts the blame game.
Harvard Business Review (April 2011) presents three categories of people that react dysfunctionally to failure (to which it attributes the responses of 70% of the U.S. population!)
- Blame Others: look for someone to scapegoat, so they don't have to take responsibility themselves.
- Blame Yourself: judge yourself overly harshly or imagine failure where none exist.
- Deny Blame: "deny that failure has occurred or deny their own role in it."
A fourth category, I believe is when people:
- Blame G-d: they ask "why me?" somehow implying an unfairness, injustice, or randomness in the failure.
In all these reactions to failure, there are in my opinion a number of mistakes being made and ways to improve upon them:
- Focus - Instead of concentration on mission success, people may erroneously overemphasize attribution. However, rather than worry about who to blame, think about how to "right the ship;" there are people in the field depending on you!
- Balance - Blaming implies that you are focused on the failure, but usually there are some things that were done right and some things that were done wrong. There is usually more of a balance to every situation that blame does not lend itself to.
- Ownership - When we blame others, G-d, or even ourselves, we basically are throwing up our hands and abrogating control of the situation, when instead we need to take appropriate levels of responsibility and accountability for what we did and did not do (or as they say "sins of commission" and "sins of omission").
Learning - Blame is a dead-end--it leads to hard feelings and possibly even despair. The way out is to acknowledge mistakes usually to degrees by all involved and LEARN FROM THEM. A failure can be turned into opportunities for future success, but learning valuable lessons on how to do things better the next time around.
To be honest, we all make mistakes.
In fact, I would worry about someone who seems so perfect on the outside--because I would imagine that they are likely or probably a powder keg, ready to blow on the inside (ever hear of someone "going postal" or the star who seems to have it all--looks, fame and fortune--and then they overdose or drive off a cliff or something?)
No one has it all. No one is perfect. We are all human.
It's not about blame. It is about accountability and responsibility--making things right where we can.
Every day we learn and grow--that is our test and our trust.
(Cartoon Credit: Tandberg)