One of my seniors taught me early in my career that I should speak in “first person singular” and encourage others to do so. When he first told me so, I was perplexed as to why he was saying this. It took me sometime to digest this simple message and then internalise it.
His advise was that I should take responsibility for what I am saying and doing and hence I should speak in first person singular and never in third person. We generally tend to speak in third person and blame the world for all the wrongs we have done or are experiencing in life.
If we look a bit within, we realise that we need to take responsibility for our lives and cannot blame the world for our state of affairs. While it may be difficult to understand and assimilate this simple axiom in life, it is worth learning it as we go along in our life and career.
Today I strongly believe that my state of affairs are all because of my actions or in-actions as the case may be. If I am successful in life, I can take the credit for my hard work apart from a bit of luck favouring me. If I fail, I equally have to take the blame and not pass it on to anyone else around me.
In organisations, it is quite common to see many leaders taking the credit for their team’s success and blaming their team members for their failure. A true leader will always do the other way around. She or he will take the blame for the team’s failure and credit the success to the team.
Another interesting dimension in the organisational context is to enable employees to speak for themselves. I also learnt this simple truth from one of my seniors. He had told me that we need to encourage employees to speak for themselves. Let them come to us and ask a hundred times -“ Why I cannot be promoted ? “ or “Why my increment is low ?” . This is fine and should be encouraged. However, the moment they ask “Why I cannot be promoted when X has been promoted ?”, they should be reprimanded. We need to tell them that they have every right to speak for themselves and not for others. When they speak for others, it is gossip and that needs to be discouraged. This is the culture building in organisations. It was an invaluable lesson in my career.
This simple truth can be extended to family and life in general. We need to encourage our children to come to us and complain about issues they face themselves and not about others. The moment we are able to establish and internalise this simple truth, our life will be happier and it will be easy to deal with issues both within the family and in society in general.
We can extend this simple principle to states and even nations at large. Every state can ask the centre as to why they have got less allocation of funds or why they have not got more central projects etc ? The moment a state compares itself with another state and then demands more grants etc, it needs to be pulled up.
Life is all about taking responsibility. We need to take full ownership for our lives and be accountable for the efforts and the results will follow. If we blame the world for our failures, nobody is going to listen to us and we will continue to be a failure in life.
As in the photo above, I need to take responsibility for not only how I look but for all my actions.
Let me resolve today that I take responsibility for my life and cannot blame the world or anyone else for my success and failure.
S Ramesh Shankar
29th April 2020