When I speak with young entrepreneurs, one of the first topics I cover is responsibility. The reason I mention it so prominently, is that the decision to accept responsibility and then back it up with action, is a prerequisite for commercial success.
What we learn, when things go wrong
If you want to really know a person’s attitude to responsibility, you need to see what they do when they make a costly mistake. The way they choose to deal with it will usually fall into one of two broad categories.
Here’s what we find:
- Some people make a mistake, take responsibility for what they did, then work to put things right. Their reputation grows as does their self-belief and confidence.
- Other people make a mistake, dodge responsibility, then walk away – leaving you with a problem they created. Their reputation plummets and they miss an opportunity to grow.
Paying the price
Those who avoid responsibility end up paying a hefty price. You see, it’s impossible to have that mindset and still grow in any meaningful, positive way. When they make a mistake, particularly a big mistake, they look for someone or something to blame. There’s no growth there. The growing only happens when they accept responsibility, dig deep, deal with the situation and THEN learn from it.
The legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, once said he only learned how great he truly was, when he was knocked down for the first time and decided to get back up again. The same is true of everyone. People only really know what they’re are made of, when faced with adversity. By dodging responsibility, they never develop the mental toughness to rise to the next challenge, which creates a cycle that persists until they decide to break it.
No one needs that kind of reputation!
Of course, failing to take responsibility and walking away from problems they created also seriously damages their reputation.
Social networks allow people to share experiences faster and with massively more people than ever before. Those who have that irresponsible attitude to business, soon learn that it doesn’t take long before their marketplace, co-workers and competitors find out.
People still value the same things
Whilst the technology we use in business has changed massively over the years, the nature of people has remained the same. The marketplace still places a huge value on; trust, courage, integrity, leadership and honesty. We can demonstrate all of those values, by accepting responsibility for our actions.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we deal with them, that counts.