My Dog Ate My – Success?

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:

  1. What did I do (or not do) to arrive here?
  2. What can I do differently now?
  3. 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.

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Leave A Reply (10 comments So Far)

  • You are a breath of fresh air. This article is a blueprint for taking one’s power back. Nicely done! 

    • Thank you Dondi!
      You are, of course, right about taking one’s power back. When we let ourselves blame outside forces we become helpless to change or improve our situation. Only by taking full responsibility do we then have the power to move forward in the direction we prefer!

  • Great post, Felicia. The more I work with people on their mental game, the more I am convinced that those who struggle have unresolved memories in their head that make it “safer” somehow  to fail. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about failing in relationships, sport or business. It’s nice to  acknowledge the fears that make us want to give our power away – and then choose steps to move forward. We can make excuses, or make successes – but not both!

    • Oooh Gina — I like that: “We can make excuses or make successes – but not both!”  Perfect summation!! Thanks for visiting, commenting, & the social media love.

  • I so needed to read this! You are right on with this!

  • Fully owning that our choices are what brought us to today can be a tough reality to grasp.

    But I find that once we pick up that proverbial mirror – and experience how it empowers us toward smart action instead of wallowing in excuses, we quickly see the potential in this type of tough question.

    Thanks for both the wake up call (the buck stops here!) and for your suggested Qs that will yield high quality insights to learn from … and move forward!

    •  Thanks for commenting, Mollie!

      I think it’s the toughest reality to grasp — looking in the mirror to see our fully exposed selves is difficult. Wallowing = bad. Empowering = good! I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Felicia, I love your examples here. I often think of this if I’ve left late for a destination and start to grow frustrated with the slow drivers in front of me. It is so important to realize that the responsibility starts – and ends – with us to take action, follow up, change course, or do something as simple as leave on time. Thanks for sharing your great ideas here!

    • Tom — exactly!

      I think once we start to flex our personal responsibility muscles a bit, it becomes much easier to catch ourselves in a moment of frustration with all the “grandma drivers” in our way, for example. The more we start to notice the true root cause of our emotions, the easier it becomes to make more positive choices. Oh — and leave a little earlier next time!