Blame, blame, blame, blame.

I first really registered the notion of blame after I read Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection and I watched a Youtube clip where she blames her husband for spilling her coffee on her new suit despite the fact he was on a business trip several thousand miles away.

I began to see blame every where, and I mean everywhere. I noticed that I did blame constantly.

Yes I blamed everybody, all the time, constantly!

Maybe I could blame others for my propensity to blame but I guess I will just put my hand up and own it.

My name is Jenny Cole and I AM A BLAMER.

Many years ago I started in a new job, my first big serious leadership role. Not only was I pushing the boundaries of my knowledge base, this place was seriously dysfunctional.  By the end of my first year you could describe it as toxic – surely not MY fault as I had only been there a year.

I blamed everyone. My second in command – clearly the root of all this evil. I blamed my middle leaders, how on earth did they qualify for those roles? The largest number of staff were the support workers, every single one of them, clearly useless. This place was useless – absolutely hopeless. Heck, I even blamed the cleaners, gardeners and bus drivers. And….if our clients were more cooperative we would have half a chance to fix this leaky boat!

I did public blame and shame, private blame, I gossiped and pointed my finger. I went on the attack – surely the best form of defense against all these idiots was offence! Why is it that telling someone that they are clearly wrong so inherently satisfying??

Long story short, once I got a grip and realised “if it was going to be, it was up to me.”

I developed a plan to turn the ship around. 

I got myself a clear vision,

shared it with others,

communicated my expectations

and

I gave up on blame and worked a little harder on the strengths of the people and processes that did exist – and there were many .

I only saw them once I stopped finding fault in others.

Whilst I haven’t thought about that particular scenario for a while, I have been noticing how often I try to make myself feel better by blaming others.

At work…

“Thank you for sorting that out. I did ask Renae to do it but she wasn’t able to” – Double whammy – blame and a put down in one sentence. Bonus points.

At home…

I have flooded the kitchen not once, not twice, but three times recently when I put the kettle under the filtered water tap and wandered off.

Twice I blamed John… the tap is sooooo slow if only he’d fixed it I wouldn’t have to prop the kettle underneath.

HE is the handy person so it MUST be his fault.

The third time I just yelled FOR GOD SAKE very loudly, repeatedly until he appeared – hoping he would absorb some blame by osmosis.

But it’s the number of times I reply to simple statements or requests with blame…

I would like to say that I have miraculously cured myself of name, blame and shame, but alas, no.

Awareness is the first and crucial step in any change process and  I am painfully aware that blame is my default response to being made accountable. These days I am more likely to notice that I am about to unleash the blame tsunami and choose responses that are less likely to drown myself or others.

Plus, I am learning to “honor the absent” and not accuse people who are not in the room and therefore can not answer for themselves.

Blame is merely a way of discharging discomfort and pain, none of us wants to feel uncomfortable, so blame is easy. What is more challenging is to sit in the discomfort, own up and be accountable for outcomes and allow space for empathy and compassion – for yourself and others.