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What’s Your Part of the Problem?

3855181622_292d0f13d4_zRecently I learned that an organization for which I’d made possible a large (and successful) marketing event hadn’t bothered to follow through with a requested reciprocal effort.

My first reaction? Frustration that threatened to quickly move toward anger. Lucky for me, I didn’t run into the responsible parties while I was discovering what hadn’t been done. If I had, I might have resorted to the kind of blaming tactics that I hope I left behind on the grade school playground!

But something reminded me to ask myself, “What was your part in this problem?” What had I done, or not done, that resulted in their lack of follow-through? As I reflected, I had to admit that I probably hadn’d specifically outlined how a couple of simple actions on their part would not only support my goals but probably improves results for them and for us.

As an old Irish saying puts it,

“Why do we judge others by their actions and ourselves by our good intentions?”

Before being sure that blame rests with the other party, consider

  • What did and didn’t I communicate?
  • How might an objective party view what happened?
  • What should I have done differently?
  • Why might my actions have sent messages different from what I intended?
  • What lesson have I learned? What will I do differently next time?

And, if you can’t come up with any answers to these questions that name your part in creating the problem, might I suggest reading Leadership and Self-Deception, an in-depth look at this difficulty that befuddles all of us at one time or another!!

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Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. So much wisdom in those old sayings and that is so true. You made a good point, Jane. I also like ‘When you point your finger at someone else remember there are three fingers pointing back at you.’

    1. Thanks, Grenae–your saying is a good reminder as well. I was reading in Adam Grant’s Give and Take today about how we all take far more credit for what goes well than we should, underestimating the contributions of others. So we need to ask, “What’s their part of the success?” too!

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