You can’t lead a truly empowered life until you grasp this principle and struggle with the difficult work of trying to apply it in ever aspect of your work and life. As I have written here before, no organization can empower us, only we can empower ourselves. Unless and until you assume full responsibility for yourself, you force someone else to assume responsibility for you, and by doing so YOU make yourself a dependent rather than an empowered individual.
Our natural inclination to see ourselves as responsible for what happens to us is dependent on both our locus of control and our learned style of making attributions. If you have a somewhat external locus of control – as MOST people do – you need to be mindful of it and be determined to learn new and more effective ways to explain to yourself the reasons why you behave the way that you do.
Whether we have a success or a failure, we need to become more skilled at seeing how the process or system we are working in influences our behavior. Especially when we realize the system has had a strong influence on our failure, we need to assume responsibility for helping to fix whatever it was about the system that is not working the way it should be. We don’t dump on our leaders (this sucks and so do you – YOU need to fix it!); instead, we partner with them to improve our systems by suggesting things that WE would be willing to do to help make things better.
Failure is an especially valuable opportunity to learn. We need to grow to appreciate that fact as a followers; otherwise, when we become leaders we will tend to punish people for their failures instead of encouraging them to learn from them. That’s just stupid and an abdication of real leadership.
Even if we work for an idiot that punishes people when they fail, that does NOT relieve us of the responsibility for learning from our failure. And we should not overlook confronting the critical need to learn why we accepted a job where we willingly work for idiots that don’t encourage people to learn from failure.
There is no one to blame.