Other Duties as Assigned

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

​​I noticed a trend in every industry that I have worked in. Too many people avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes. If something doesn’t turn out perfectly, we, as humans, want to shift the blame to others or to something outside of our control. One of the best experiences I had in my professional career was organizing a Fun Run. There was a bunch of construction on the path of the Fun Run and we ended up switching the course the day before the event. As a result, the bicycle who was leading the race got confused and the runners were upset. Keep in mind this was a charity event and while money was raised, the run itself was a disaster. 
The person I was working with turned to me after the race and she said “How could I have done better?” She wasn’t responsible for coming up with the course, or for getting people to sign up. She was in charge of the volunteers (who did a really good job) yet she felt personally responsible for the lack of organization that day. In that moment, she did something that very few people do. She took ownership of something that was not her fault. 
We learned from this and the next year, we mapped the run out several weeks in advance and doubled, and even triple checked the course. We over communicated with the volunteers to make sure we had more than enough people to guide the participants through the course. The event was a massive success. 
So what changed? Rather than shift the blame or make excuses about what went wrong, we took ownership. We were running the event as part of our job, this was not my main role in this position, but by taking full responsibility you have the opportunity to stand out. I would argue that taking responsibility for something that may have been outside your control can give you an opportunity to gain credibility in a moment where you could be nervous to lose it.
I notice this a lot in my current role. When thinking through ideas  in our business, my business partner and I are quick to say, “I must not be explaining this right,” rather than “how do you not understand?” It has made a world of difference for allowing grace to exist in our working relationship. Which makes us more productive in the long run. 
So, this post is two-fold. Take responsibility for things even if you don’t think they are within your control, but offer grace to those who you work with. If you can equip yourself with these two tools, you will be amazed how quickly you become the go-to person in your current role.

Blair

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