If you can blame someone else for circumstances or outcomes you don’t like, then you don’t have to take responsibility for your part in the decision making. It’s an all too frequent game that most of us have played at one time or another. We may not even realize we’re doing it.
How many times have you been guilty of passing the blame to someone else? How many times have you been the scapegoat?
“You’re the reason we don’t go out more, not me;” or “You’re the woman. It’s up to you to invite people over.” (Who made up that rule? A man, of course.)
Sound familiar? This kind of manipulative behavior puts you on defense. I vowed never to play; but it’s oh so easy to get sucked in. And so the blame game continues.
Ever been bribed or cajoled into doing something your gut told you not to? Perhaps taking charge of a family get together, a reunion, or an upcoming church activity. The cheerleaders promise “Oh, we’ll help you! If we all do it together, it won’t be so much work.”
But when the planning begins and the implementation finally occurs, the mice have scattered and you’re left holding the bag. No one seems to remember their promise to assist. Even the witnesses are “mum.” Suddenly it seems all too familiar. You’re the scapegoat once again, and you let it happen! Ugh!
There are idea people who excitedly think up activities and events for others to do. And then there are the workers who actually roll up their sleeves and get things done. Which type are you?
Some people like to get the attention and notoriety while others prefer to work quietly behind the scenes. All types are necessary. Without the idea people, nothing would happen. Without the visionaries and dreamers, skills would lie dormant and outcomes would remain stagnant.
Without problem solvers, people would grind to a halt at the first obstacle. Like busy bees, hardworking hands deliver the goods. They get things done. Tackling one crisis at a time, they combine their energies into a group bulldozer that moves into action. Their unified efforts make mountains out of molehills, and turn imagination into reality.
The key to superb leadership is in knowing how to get others to see your vision and want to help carry it out. Micro-managers limit other people’s ability to contribute their own expertise into making the overall plan work. A tight-fisted leader with his thumb constantly on the pulse of a vibrant group can turn normally creative people into robots.
A team leader, or a smart parent, can help others understand the purpose and overall vision of the plan and then set team members into action. By allowing each person to feel ownership over the results, individuals are more willing to take responsibility for its success.
Remember O. Henry’s story “The Last Leaf?” An embittered artist, part of a vibrant art community, had drunk himself almost to death waiting for the inspiration for his last masterpiece. Most days his brushes and paints were left untouched.
Nearby another artist, without the will to live, was clinging to life watching the last leaves fall from an Ivy she could see out of her window. When the last leaf fell, she knew she would die. She had given up all hope.
When the embittered old man met her and saw how desperate she was, he stayed up all night painting a fresh leaf on the wall, one that had not quite turned color. When morning came, the young artist seeing that there was still one leaf clinging to the vine regained her strength and began to eat. In a few days she was on her way to recovery.
The old artist who had painted the leaf succumbed to the same illness leaving his last masterpiece on the brick wall. He literally gave his skill and his life for hers. A beautiful story that reminds us how important it is to face life afresh. Stunning paintings and great literature have for centuries kept hope alive in the human heart and in a darkened world.