I love the Janet Evanovich series of books with the main character named Stephanie Plum. She’s a bounty hunter, though not a good one. She has these series of misadventures as she goes along trying to catch whomever she’s been designated to bring in, and many of the misadventures are indirect results of something she’s done… or not done. One of her constant lines is this one, or something similar: “It’s not my fault.”

United Nations Climate Change Conference - COP15 - Copenhagen, Denmark
kris krüg via Compfight

Personal responsibility is one of the most important things any of us can learn, or needs to learn. Whereas each of us has, or gets into, situations where it’s truly not our fault, every so often we have to look at our life patterns to determine whether we were either at fault, or should have known better than to allow ourselves to get into a particular situation.

For instance, let’s look at someone who’s a drinker, and every so often loses control of themselves while doing it. They may feel that it wasn’t their fault because the alcohol made them do it. When professional or college teams in a particular city win a championship and their fans run into the streets, overturning cars or setting fires, it’s usually blamed on alcohol. Where’s the personal responsibility there?

Another instance is where people have relationships with others while they’re committed in some way to someone else. Quite often, they’ll say that it’s the fault of someone else because that person wasn’t giving them what they needed. Sometimes, they say it’s because the other person was doing something they didn’t like, so they felt justified. Once again, blaming someone else for their actions.

These are personal issues where people need to own up to their responsibilities and their own shortcomings. If one decides to do something that they know isn’t the right thing to do, or allows themselves to be in that type of situation, then they own the consequences of those actions, whatever they may be. I often hear that the response wasn’t justified by the particular bad action. That may be true in many instances, but the reality is that we never know how someone will react in what will become a stressful situation.

What happens in your personal life also happens in the professional world. Sometimes the two cross each other, and when that happens, someone will be left uncomfortable. If it’s a business function, whether in the office or elsewhere, and someone loses control of themselves, others who weren’t participating in the behavior will end up having a negative feeling about that person, and they may never regain any respect they might have had. If someone divulges too much of their personal information to a co-worker during work times, they risk not only what that person’s thoughts might become, but how much of that information may get out throughout the rest of the company.

There are also those daily events that make others question the credibility, honesty, and ethics of those they work with or report to. Things such as: taking credit for someone else’s work; talking behind someone else’s back; blaming others instead of owning up to their responsibilities; etc. Every day, in offices across the world, someone is destroying their credibility by performing some negative action that casts them in a bad light, often trying to take someone with them.

Here’s what needs to be addressed:

1. Pay attention to your own business, not others. Unless you’re the person in charge, instead of noticing what others are doing, work to be the best you can be, and it will be recognized.

2. Give credit where credit is due. If you’re deficient in one area, own up to it and allow someone else to shine when necessary.

3. Don’t bring co-workers into your personal life. You know how uncomfortable you are when a co-worker you might not be close to brings you into their personal drama. Don’t subject others to the same sort of thing.

4. Try to stay in control of your emotions. Don’t vacillate too much when it comes to being happy or sad. Consistency allows people to be comfortable because they’ll know what to expect every time you interact with each other.

5. Don’t allow yourself to be seen in a negative light, even outside of the workplace. You can be smooth as silk at work, but one personal faux pas, even in a social setting, will give people negative impressions of you forever.
 

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