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  • Elliot Callighan

Own Failure

I have been trying to take more ownership in everything that I do. That includes my work, friendships, family, and also my emotions. Complete ownership is not something that can be learned and absorbed over night. In my mind, it's a never-ending process. Our lives are constantly changing, so there are always new and better ways for us to think and act. There is constantly progress to be made if we are open to it - which can be both exciting as well as intimidating. Even in things that are seemingly out of your control, it's a matter of asking yourself "why didn't I plan for things not going to plan?"

Too often, people look for any reason not to blame themselves. They were late, which made me late. It didn't arrive on time so we didn't finish. He/She should have done this/that. The thing is - all that stuff happened. And it will not be the last time things like that happen. Rather than only blaming others or the circumstances, think about how you could have been successful even though those things happened. When things don't go to plan, it does not abdicate your responsibility or commitments. Sometimes this can be incredibly frustrating - "I did everything I was supposed to! It's their fault!" But when you accept your enduring responsibility and devote time to thinking about it, the momentary emotional frustration will be far outweighed by the frustration and failure you circumvent by owning whatever happens and whatever the outcome is. Do not spend time dwelling on obstacles from a lens of blame. Focus on what is in your spheres of control and influence, and how to best use them.



Do have direct control? Do you have influence? Both are incredibly powerful. And surprisingly, many times you can impact greater change with your sphere of influence rather than control.


I'm angry about something. Why did someone or something anger me? Is that necessary? Helpful? How can I communicate my anger and frustration in a way that helps the situation? If I communicate it that way, will someone be motivated to do something about it? Should I be angry at them? Do I even need to be angry?


You have control over your thought process, your response, tact, and many times the way people react to those choices. Take responsibility for all of it!


If you do fail, noone will ever bemoreupset at you for claiming responsibility - especially if you immediately provide solutions.


But if you suspend your thought when you find something beside yourself to blame, it will be much harder for you to provide solutions and avoid the problem in the future.


Plus, if you avoid ownership you will only incite more anger by those that perceive you as the cause for the failure, and you will never improve. You will repeat the same mistakes.


Clients are rarely satisfied with excuses or "blame explanations" - they respond much better to results.


Additionally, if a member of your team fails, do not publicly blame them - think about how you can share the failure with them. The angry party probably doesn't care about the specifics, so throwing a specific person under the bus won't help anything - it will only make them feel embarrassed and attacked.


Instead, take ownership as a team. Yes, one team member may be the root cause but the entire team could have helped influence them.See how quickly individual ownership can permeate into team/group improvement?


Owning failure as a team will also inspire loyalty and motivate the team member to reciprocate the support they received.


This change in mindset can positively influence our thoughts and actions for both ourselves as individuals and generate a powerful force for teams.


By owning failure you maintain integrity, elevate yourself, and inspire loyalty from your team  - even from the party you may have failed.

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