What we do

When things go wrong, many of us tend to blame things around us rather than looking at ourselves and asking why this happened or what we could have done differently. There’s often a lot of blaming as to what OTHER PEOPLE should have done differently. Rarely is our first thought what WE should have done differently. Seldom is our first thought, “What was my part in this?”

Where we want to get to

Some of us blame instead of learning, adjusting, and taking action. When difficult situations arise, our first thoughts should not be blaming other people, but rather looking at ourselves: “What could I have done differently?” and/or “What can I do next?”

Blaming keeps us stuck

Sometimes we feel that when something is “wrong” then there must be someone to blame. But that is not what accountability is about. Accountability is not about blame – of ourselves or others. The reason for this is very practical. When our mind is spinning on blame, we don’t learn or move forward – we stay stuck.

What if there was no one to blame?

Several years ago, as I was contemplating leaving a bad relationship, the thought occurred to me. “If I leave, who will I have to blame?” I was astonished that I thought this! But think of a challenging situation in your own life, and stop for a moment and ask yourself: “What if there was no one to blame?” How would that impact your life? How could it help you free up your energy? Simply releasing the energy of blame can transform our lives – and free us up for problem solving, action, and better results.

Knowing what others should do and say

Some of us have been hard-wired to blame and believe that there must be someone or something at fault. But it is a huge waste of time thinking we know what someone else should have said or done in any situation. We don’t know what people should have said or done (because we don’t know the complexity of their situation; we’re just seeing the surface from our own perspective).

“Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.” Christian D. Larsen

Yes or no?

When I’m thinking about what other people should have said or done, I’m not being accountable. Accountability is about looking at ourselves first.

Answer yes or no to these two questions:
1) Would your colleagues say that you are accountable?
2) Would they say you spend a lot of time blaming others?


We’ve been talking about most people’s tendency to blame others, rather than acknowledging their part in things and/or moving toward a resolution of the problem. So how does this play out in organizations when something goes wrong? Watch for our next newsletter as we discuss the organizational consequences of blame.

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