The Sunday Mail
HUNT FOR GREATNESS
THE price of greatness is taking responsibility. The invisible tax on progress is blame. Thinking like a victim will never make you a victor or agile actor. The most popular sport is not athletics, soccer, rugby, baseball, basketball, tennis or golf. We all play this sport once in a while and at times we play the game unconsciously and cheer those playing it well. The sport can be played at any level of sophistication and the number of players or their resources does not matter.
This most popular sport does not require any special equipment except a pointed finger. As you may have guessed, this sport is: “The Blame Game.”
In this game, you judge yourself based on your intentions and you judge others by what they actually do. So long as in your eyes your intentions are noble, every act you do is christened with nobility and sanctified with rectitude.
In this vein of self-deception, the tendency is to feel that because you are the one playing the game your intentions must be understood and your behavioral flaws overlooked. Thus, I also played the game of life for years, thinking that I was a victim and that someone was ever standing in my way and frustrating me.
In whatever I did, my eyes were always darting for some whipping boy or scapegoat. In time, I realised that I was my own worst enemy and my attitude stank. Taking personal responsibility started me on a new path.
The Blame Game is as old as time. Yet the ultimate lesson of life is sometimes lost, that is, you can blame all you care, but you will at one point have to account for your actions. In the Bible, following the fall, the cast of players quickly took to playing the Blame Game with swift passion. From their place of hiding, Adam blamed Eve, who in turn blamed the snake. If the snake had been given a chance to speak, it would have surely found someone to blame, most likely the economy. In a classic Blame Game, no one is willing to take responsibility, but there is always someone or something to blame.
In the Blame Game, the most popular gesture is finger pointing. Someone is always the cause of your misery, misfortune and mistakes. Whenever you think like a victim, you behave like a victim and you become a miserable victim.
As you pity yourself, behaving as though the world owes you a living and stipend, you point fingers everywhere and stop thinking creatively or resourcefully. Whenever you blame someone, you give up your power to change and the motivation to make a difference. While pointing a finger, the other four fingers point back at you.
Change begins where you start taking responsibility. The size of finger you point does not matter, what matters is the amount of responsibility that you are willing to assume. Irresponsible people will always do irresponsible things, take irresponsible decisions and then turn around and claim they were not responsible for anything. You cannot think strategically as long as you are pointing a miserable finger at someone else. You cannot write a new destiny with a pointed, blaming, irresponsible finger.
If you look hard enough with an eye to blame, there will always be someone who is a ready scapegoat. Experienced and professional players of the Blame Game keep a good number of goats in their pen, just in case. When an issue comes up, they will find a convenient scapegoat on which to rub the blame while they scamper for cover. They will not see, hear or do any wrong themselves. Hogging glory and apportioning blame generously is a symptom of lost focus and unworthy leadership. Success has many fathers and a very large extended family, while failure is always an orphaned and smelly child.
Greatness starts when you willingly take responsibility and face the music even if you do not like the tune nor the lyrics. You are not a goat, so stop looking for scapegoats to mate with. Choose to take responsibility. Nothing will change so long as you think you are a victim. Most solutions are not far. They are just pushed further away when you refuse to take responsibility. Responsibility stimulates creativity.
It is a working assumption that we all think with our heads. Not when you are playing the Blame Game. In the Blame Game, you think with your feet and take to your heels at the first sign of trouble. Running away from responsibility and hiding from responsibility are default, but unhelpful postures. Instead of running away, choose to stay in the game. Persistence finally wins the day. When you are wrestling with a gorilla, you do not stop when you are tired. You only stop when either the gorilla is tired or it walks away. Such is life. The luxury of running away is a privilege that cowards enjoy. Thinking with your feet is not engagement or strategy execution. Losing focus when it matters most is throwing away opportunity.
If you build the guts to do whatever you dare, then you better save enough to face the consequences. If you love the rose, be willing to deal with the thorny stem. If you love honey, get ready for the bees. You cannot anticipate glory from success and be unwilling to face the responsibility should things not work. Eventually, we all have to take responsibility for what we did and did not do. The world watches silently until the hour of reckoning.
The Blame Game professionals are distinguished in the art of the insult. Insults are arguments employed by those in the wrong who wish to cover their tracks. Focus on what matters and not fighting unnecessary battles of pride. Making noise and insulting those who do not matter in the equation of success is to waste energy and distort focus. Verbiage is not a substitute for execution. Insults are not an atonement for failure to execute. Using your creativity to insult is not innovation nor motivation.
Instead of burning bridges, build them. Instead of insulting, engage. Instead of ceaseless diatribe, consider dialogue. You have a choice always, regardless of the pressure you face. To say you have no choice is to absolve yourself of responsibility.
The difference between leadership and complaining is taking responsibility. Taking responsibility starts you on a new progressive path. Complaining does not require any special skills except pouting out one’s anger and venom, thinking that someone must do something and not you. Leadership and greatness require character, strength and mental fortitude. Without taking responsibility, it is impossible to lead successfully or attain any greatness.
It is not the number of people that complain that matters, but the one person who is willing to take responsibility. Throwing stones is not a sign of supreme courage; building with the stones thrown at you is true bravado. Never be discouraged from shining your candle because the night is too dark. Believe in the good to come. Optimism is a strategy that enables a better future. When you cannot see the future, you become irresponsible and complain all the time. Believe in the future and never lose hope. Unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. You are not a victim, play the right game. Play to win and do not just playing to play. If anything is to start working, you have to start working.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a cutting-edge international transformational and inspirational speaker, author and coach. He is a strategy and innovation consultant and leadership coach. His life purpose is to inspire people to release the greatness trapped in them. He can be reached at: [email protected] and his Twitter handle is: @MiltonKamwendo.