Lions (Shame), Tigers (Blame), and Bears (Humiliation) – Oh my! : Why Blame Can Halt Growth

Blame is an interesting word and can have a negative connotation to it because of the feelings it can create. Blame is not severe like shame. It does not necessarily lead to feelings against your self, although it could. However, we want to be aware of the word because of what it can do: decrease the willingness to take responsibility and accountability due to its lack of positive action trait. 

Blame can be an ineffective tool against growth and is typically used for placing ultimate responsibility of a problem onto someone or something WITHOUT (which is key) the desire to address it. Blame is synonymous with: reproach, reprove, reprehend, criticize. 

Don’t worry, I am not saying that we don’t need to hold people accountable for actions. What I am saying  that the desire to hold people accountable without the desire to help them grow as a result of their mistake or failure is ineffective at best and damaging at worse.

So how can we transfer this thought process from blame (and shame) to taking responsibility and personal growth?

Blame can decrease the willingness to take responsibility and accountability due to its lack of positive action trait. 


Step 1. Assess responsibility fairly 

Blaming someone for something because you are angry, defensive, or upset is easy. Anyone can do that. It takes true wisdom to assign responsibility fairly and equally. This includes for yourself which can be uncomfortable. Remember, as leaders, if you are comfortable, you are likely not growing.

Step 2. Assess the mistakes made that can be addressed or fixed

Not every mistake can be fixed .We can’t go back in time either unless time machines were invented without my knowledge. Unfortunately or fortunately for us we have to do the hard work of assessing our mistakes and taking measures to actually fixing them.

It’s tempting and easy to just sit there and beat yourself up for any failure made. It takes true strength of character to be willing to look at it factually and truly, and then work at it. You may very well make the same mistake twice, three, or one hundred times. Learning from a mistake does not mean it can’t occur again but it does not mean you should grow each time.

Step 3. Implement 

For me, I am an action person so whenever a mistake is made that I can fix and take an action against, I jump at it. It is the ones that I cannot take action on that require me to really sit down and work through it.

The largest thing I can push here is try to not let peer pressure, internal pressure, and emotional pressure for perfection to allow yourself to  stop growth due to failures. Failures probably will never be comfortable but they can mean something by addressing them and taking responsibility versus only assigning blame.

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