As a professional speaker I spend time attending all sorts of business events.
More and more I’ve noticed something: A lack of personal responsibility in many phases of preparing for, traveling to, and speaking at events.
I submit the following true (and all too common) examples:
- The woman who didn’t leave enough time to get to the airport and loudly complains to the shuttle driver about possibly missing her flight.
- The event planner who has a tough time filling seats at his event blaming everything from the economy to the type of speakers (which he invited) to the speakers not promoting the event (even though the speakers all participated in six mailings and three pre-event interviews to promote).
- The speaker who blames the lack of her sales on the event planner, or on attendees being too “cheap,” or the temperature of the room, or the time of day she was scheduled to present rather than examining her speech delivery or her offer.
- The audience member who attends event after event, takes no action, and sees no results asserting he’s “heard it all” and complaining that “none of it works” to improve his situation in life or in business.
Many of these external issues could be factors in the person’s lack of success or getting their desired results but it all boils down to understanding this:
The buck stops here!
Author Andy Andrews in his book, The Traveler’s Gift, writes about the seven decisions people need to make in their lives in order to be successful. The first decision Andy Andrews discusses is this (so good it’s worth repeating!):
The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future.
If your business or your life isn’t where you want it to be, it’s easy to blame past coaches or consultants, programs that promised the moon but barely delivered on the smallest details, family challenges, your lack of education, poor health, bad luck, bad timing or a host of other issues for where you are or are not.
Starting today – right now this very moment — look in the mirror and be willing to admit, good, bad or somewhere in between you are where you are because of no one but you.
It’s about personal responsibility. It’s about taking control of your situation, of your actions, of your thoughts, and of the outcome.
Here’s why this is important in terms of effective communication.
When you take responsibility for where you are as well as for your actions or lack thereof, you begin to see the world differently and communicate with others in a new way. You complain less. And you begin to find solutions. You’ll soon discover people in your life mobilizing to help you move forward – because they know you won’t blame them if you’re not successful.
In the moment you realize a situation is not what you would like it to be ask yourself:
- What did I do (or not do) to arrive here?
- What can I do differently now?
- What steps can I take so going forward this situation does not happen again?
Be honest with yourself about the answers. At first you may need an impartial outside person to help you answer those questions – someone who cares about you and your success to help you uncover the truth.
Occasionally there are circumstances beyond your control for not achieving what you want, but typically it boils down to the choices you made and the actions you took as a result of those choices.
Over time, by learning to accept personal responsibility for every aspect of your life, you begin to see more and more success coming in ways you could never have imagined.
I know many readers of this article will have overcome some personal responsibility issues or helped others do so and I’d love to hear your stories now in the comments below.