It’s our default inclination when something goes wrong to try and protect ourselves, our image, or our ego. We often do this by shifting the focus from ourselves on to someone or something else; in short, we make excuses. “Well, if that person would have…then this never would have happened in the first place.” Or, “I didn’t receive the proper training; had so and so spend more time with me, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
We sometimes also play the victim card to gain sympathy, or as an explanation to our perceived weaknesses or shortcomings. “The deck is stacked against me,” or “I have no control over the situation, I’m powerless.” At some point or another each of us has pulled the victim card, or made an excuse for an unfavorable outcome, and in many ways it almost seems like these attitudes can be our natural inclination.
Ironically enough, the very things we do to protect ourselves, our image, or our ego, can actually cause the most harm. Painting ourselves as the victim or making excuses removes us as the captain of our own ship, and places us directly in the passenger seat. We go from being an owner to losing control. Those we surround ourselves with may lose trust, respect, or confidence in us. Take a look this clip from former NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion, Steve Young:
I love how Steve talks about how in order to gain the respect and credibility from his teammates, he needed to be above finger pointing and pulling the victim card. Did he ever feel justified in blaming someone else, or making himself out to be the victim? Absolutely he did, but he realized that in order to be an effective leader, he needed to rise above that. He learned that one of the keys to successful leadership is taking ownership of mistakes or when things are going poorly, and to credit your team when things are going well. So the next time you feel the urge to blame someone or something else, take a look in the mirror and own it, it’ll make you a better leader in the long run.