To err is human…
Alexander Pope knew us pretty well. We all mess up. We all fail. It’s a given for all humans. How we handle our failure and mistakes is what sets people apart. How can we respond to our own failures in ways that lead to growth and success?
If we are to deal well with failure we have to rid ourselves of the toxic responses we often have when things don't go well with us. Few things are more toxic than blame.
Toxic Response to Failure #1: Blame Others
This response to failure goes back all the way to the beginning. The first man to walk the planet had made his first mistake, broken his first rule, failed his first test. He ate the one thing that was off limits. How did he respond?
Eve made me do it.
And how did Eve handle Adam dumping all of the responsibility on to her?
The snake made me do it.
We’ve been blaming others for our problems ever since.
Why did you yell at your sister?
Because she made me angry!
Why is the project late?
It's not my fault, Bob took too long getting the numbers to me.
We do it without even thinking.
And who can blame us? Anger feels much better than hurt. It hurts to admit you were wrong. It’s much more fun to be angry. Also, there’s an added bonus. If it’s someone else’s fault, then fixing it is someone else’s responsibility. Not only do we not have to feel the pain of being wrong, we don’t have to do the hard work of fixing the problem. It’s a win-win. Except that it isn’t.
When you blame others, you effectively stop growing. If there are parts of you or things you have done that you can’t be honest with yourself about, growth is impossible. The truth is that we are impacted by others, and many times their mistakes do indeed impact our own, but we alone are responsible for our decisions, our emotions, and our attitudes.
So, don’t pretend that others haven’t hurt you. They have, and mostly likely they will again. But, be honest with yourself about your part of the mess. That’s the only part you have any power to fix, and owning that is the beginning of true growth and character development.