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Take responsibility of one’s own actions (don’t blame others!)

Another in my series on Self Determination Theory examines how we walk the talk /model the behaviours / be the change we want to see by taking responsibility for our actions.

Which of these describe you?

  • Lacking interest in your work, and in the well-being of the team.

  • Blaming others for mistakes and failures.

  • Missing deadlines.

  • Avoiding challenging tasks and projects, and not taking risks.

  • Regularly complaining about unfair treatment by team leaders and team members – and engaging in self-pity.

  • Avoiding taking initiative, and being dependent on others for work, advice, and instructions.

  • Lacking trust in team members and leaders.

  • Making excuses regularly – they may often say "It's not my fault," or, "That's unfair."

Take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions.

To take responsibility for your life, is to take responsibility for your powers of thinking, feeling, speaking and acting, because this is the structure of all human experience. You create your life with your thoughts, feelings, words and actions.

You take responsibility when you accept that the thoughts you have, are your thoughts coming from your mind. How you feel happens in your body and is a result of your thoughts. The words you speak come from your mouth and voice. The actions you take, are taken by you.

What this means is that nobody can make you think, feel, say or do anything. Nobody can push your buttons, because you are the button maker! In the same way you don’t have control over how other people respond as they respond from their mindset.

Stop blaming Stop blaming your peers, boss, direct reports or "other" functional areas (HR, Sales, IT, Finance) for any misfortune. Blaming keeps you in victim mode and robs you of changing your situation. When you stop blaming and accept responsibility, you shift from victim to victor. Now you can look at the situation and decide what to do about it. Ask yourself, “What is my role in this?”

Stop complaining Complaining is another form of blaming and playing victim as if you have no choice. It also shows that you focus on lack, things going wrong, things happening to you. In everything not going according to plan, there is a gift, there is a bigger picture. Ask yourself, “What is the gift here? What can I learn from this?”

The above helps you understand the what - now let's unpack the how. It's no good telling your people the above, you need to lead them to their own conclusions, let them have that insight their selves. Looking at the above, guiding the self reflection of your team on their own behaviours is deep and will be challenging (but hey that's where the most growth comes from right?). You do it by asking questions, listening and if needed giving feedback .

Powerful questions:

How do you contribute to <insert situation here>?

How can you stop contributing to the situation?

How can I help you hold yourself accountable to that commitment?


I like SBID (Situation, Behavior, Impact Discovery) to structure my feedback:

In yesterday's meeting (situation), I observed you rolling your eyes and pulling faces when the other team members were speaking (behavior), that caused them to shut down and contribute very little to the brainstorming (impact) - that's how I see you contributing.... how can you help others speak up instead of shutting them down?

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