Blame is Good!

 
Blame me!I don’t like to be blamed but not because I feel the person blaming me is attacking me or out to get me. I don’t like blame because it means I did something wrong, or missed something. I’m not afraid of blame and that allows me the freedom to think outside the box, to try things even if they might seem a little unorthodox, and to view criticism as opportunity for improvement.

People need to move past the blame mentality. Blame is not a bad word. When I do something wrong and another person points it out, they are not blaming me, they are showing me an issue or mistake and helping me to correct it.

When my staff makes a mistake and I investigate and find the cause of the mistake I’m not blaming someone so they can get in trouble, or so I can fire them, I’m simply pointing out an error so it doesn’t happen again. This is the attitude I have when it’s determined that my action caused a problem. I’m not mad or scared, I’m glad, happy that an issue was discovered and that action can be taken to correct it. I’m also angry that I let it happen and that’s a good thing.

Everyone has two choices when someone “blames” them for something:

1. Get mad and upset which leads to a bad attitude

2. Be thankful someone caught the issue before it became a problem, fix it, and become better

Which will you choose?

If your choice is number 1 then you are doomed to a mentality of cover-up, fear, and passing the buck. All of that leads to a bad workplace, a bad marriage, and bad relationships.

The second choice gives you power; power to take control of the situation and to learn from mistakes which leads to open communication, the freedom to think differently, the comfort to speak up.

The bottom line is that we all have to re-think the word blame and recognize it for what it really is, help and a way to improve.

So I pledge that if I mess up and you blame me, I’ll thank you and we will all be better for it.


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If You’re Not Falling…

 
skiingI learned to ski late in life.

To get my girlfriend (now wife) back into normal activity after her house burned down, my friends suggested I take her skiing. Julie skied before the fire and they figured she’d enjoy getting back to it. I, however, hate the cold and the idea of purposely going out in the cold was not appealing to me at all, but I did it anyway. I loved it!

We began skiing regularly and would spend a long weekend in Vermont every year with a large group of friends at a ski-in-ski-out home in Killington. One of those friends, Dave, was an excellent skier who had grown up in Colorado and even tried out for the US Olympic team. Dave became the coach for all of us amateurs.

I was getting quite good feeling comfortable on some black diamond runs but I was still falling more often then I wanted to. When I expressed my frustration to Dave he said, “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t learning.”

I was pushing myself to get better and when you take chances like that, not all of them work out. I could have taken it easy, stayed at the level I was at and never fallen again, but that didn’t appeal to me.

Coasting, resting on my laurels, in other aspects of life also doesn’t appeal to me. Constant improvement, trying new things, living life as an adventure, those things do appeal to me but sometimes I fall.

Falling is not fun but neither is stagnating. I’ll take the occasional fall if that means I’m getting better. Are you willing to fall once in a while?


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Broaden the Definition of Failure

 
Failure sounds so final, like there is no recovery but the truth is that you can recover from all but the most catastrophic failure. As long as the end result is not death recovery is possible.

I’m not one of those pie in the sky, failure is a gift, kind of people but I do believe a lot can be learned from mistakes and that failure is far more common than we like to admit. Some people don’t want to focus on failures but I want to expand the definition and see failure even in success. If I can pick out the one thing I did wrong in an otherwise successful endeavor, I’ll be even better the next time.

FailinsuccessFailure is not the opposite of success!

Without a crystal ball it’s easy to think of every setback as a catastrophe but the reality is that it’s probably just a bump in the road.

When my most requested massage therapist quit I thought my spa business was doomed, that my descent into bankruptcy was beginning (yes I can be over dramatic sometimes). The reality was that we had many capable and skilled therapists who could and did pick up the slack. Instead of bankruptcy, our revenue increased every week after her departure.

But there was still failure in this situation. I’m not sure the outcome would have been any different but I could have worked smarter to keep her rather than letting my stubbornness get in the way.

Later when another therapist was showing up late, calling out, and otherwise being disruptive, I was less worried. Again she was our most requested therapist but I knew we’d be just fine without her. I had many conversations with her to discover the source of her behavior but to no avail. The outcome was the same, other capable therapists took up the slack and revenue stayed on its upward trajectory.

In each case I failed in some way but I was able to manage the situation, look inside myself and come up with changes to improve myself and my business. If instead of seeing these events as failures, I just saw them as the normal course of doing business, I would not learn from them, I would not be able to make the necessary adjustments to improve my connection with my employees.

I see failure all around because my definition is broader than most, and while I sometimes panic and think the end of the world is near, I know that a solution is probably near as well.


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Adding Color

It was way back in June 1999 that construction on our house was completed. Julie and I were anxious to move in after designing it and watching it go from a hole in the ground to a home. We had to make some financial choices during construction so we wouldn’t go over budget but they were minor. One choice was putting linoleum in the entrance hall and kitchen rather than tile. This would be temporary we told ourselves (and it was if you consider 11 years and counting temporary). Another money saving decision was to not paint the living room and halls. Julie preferred white walls and we simply couldn’t agree on a color.

I like bold colors but Julie is much more conservative and likes very light colors when forced to choose. I began to see what the problem was when I decided it was time to paint our bedroom. Julie actually likes colors, even bold colors, but lacks the confidence to choose them. When presented with a choice she almost always goes with the lighter color. Once I convince her to try the bolder color, however, she usually likes it on the walls.

We’ve recently (finally after 11 years) painted the halls in the house. The entrance hall has gone from white (with lots of marks from years of abuse) to a deep and dark color we describe as charcoal green. The upstairs hallway was a bit more of a battle but is now a deep, not very vibrant, yellow/orange/brown. The kitchen got a new color a lighter green with hints of blue and gray using the same color that’s in the upstairs hall for trim. The dining room was also updated to a brown color. The half bath downstairs is the same color as the upstairs hall with one accent wall and the trim the same as the downstairs hall.

Downstairs Hall Upstairs Hall Bathroom

A painting frenzy has completely transformed the house and it feels new again.

Sometimes that’s all you need in life is a little color, a fairly simple change that can renew your enthusiasm for something that felt old or stale. Look around, look inward, and ask What Next. What small change can you make that will have a huge impact? This isn’t a New Year resolution, it’s a New You resolution – now make it real.


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