How I learnt to stop shooting myself in the foot.Posted on April 13th, 2008 No comments
I am an internaliser.
This means that I have a strong sense that I am in control of my life and that I consider myself responsible for what ever happens to me.
I have always been quite proud of this because I don’t really want to be an externaliser. An exteranliser is someone who strongly believes that their fate is governed by chance and other outside factors in their lives. I have always equated this with having a victim mentality. But as it turns out I have been setting myself up to be a victim by being an internaliser.
Since I fundamentally believe that everything that goes wrong for me is somehow due to my own actions, I am good at finding fault in myself. For example I have a big collection of cringe moments stored away in my head like a video archive that I sometimes find myself playing and still reacting to emotionally and physically.
Another thing I do is, if something goes wrong I immediately start looking for the thing that I have done to create the situation and worst of all, I quite often talk about it. I will offer reasons as to why something that went wrong was my fault.
This is a bad habit and I wasn’t really aware of how often I was doing it until recently.
What has brought it to my attention is a person at work who is very good at picking up on my confessions and immediately jumping on it whole heartedly and agreeing with what I say.
I can’t tell you how annoying this is.
Here is an example:
Messenger: The sales department is complaining that they did not know that the change was coming. They are saying that we didn’t include them in the briefings.
Me: That is strange, I did email them to let them know that the meeting was on but they didn’t reply. Maybe I should have rung up to confirm with them verbally.
Annoying person: Absolutely you should have. It was an important meeting and you should have talked to them to make sure they were aware the meeting was on.
Now, if I was a bit less self-accusatory I would have said:
Me: They only have themselves to blame. I let them know that the meeting was on and if they choose to ignore it, that is their problem.
The problem is that this is never the first thing that comes into my head. My natural behavior is to take on the responsibility myself. I don’t consider myself to be a good corporate ‘player’ because of this and I am now thinking that I may not be a good manager for the same reason.
If my staff make mistakes my first reaction is to look for where I went wrong not them. The first thing I do is let them off the hook. I don’t think I ever want to be a good corporate player almost as much as I don’t want to be an externaliser but I do want to be a good manager and that means realising that often it is not my fault. At least, it should not be my first option.
So that person is still annoying and I avoid them whenever I can but I have learnt something from them and I should be more grateful than what I am.
Mind you, I wouldn’t have to be so grateful if I had picked up on it earlier!