Fault and Responsibility – If It’s Your Responsibility, Then It’s Your Fault Too

Fault – Responsibility for wrongdoing or failure.

Responsibility – something for which one is responsible.

I wrote something this past week to the salespeople I work with about double-checking orders that are input by others. Yes, the incorrect order entry is the fault of the person who entered the order, but the salesperson is ultimately responsible for everything related to the client. Also, since they are commissioned, they are also responsible for their compensation.

Two weeks ago, a transmitter failure led to the TV station I manage going off of the air for 25 minutes during the NFC Championship Game. The problem was a malfunctioning flow valve attached to the system that cools our transmitter. In this case, the fault lies with the flow valve and perhaps the engineer for not properly diagnosing a previous outage a few weeks ago. However, the responsibility to keep the TV signal on air ultimately lies with me.

During this same football game, the confusion caused by the outage led to a Master Control Operator making a mistake on rolling the commercials. This error led to $12,000 in lost revenue and a few unhappy clients. Although the fault for this incident could be attributed to the M.C.O., the responsibility for the training of our employees, our client’s satisfaction and delivering the revenue targets lies with me.

I once read that Fault is past tense, and Responsibility is present tense. Fault is about what happened, whereas Responsibility is about what is happening right now. In all three of the incidents that happened above, I took massive amounts of immediate action after the fact to try and prevent a repeat of these accidents. I took responsibility for each incident.

When it comes to Fault and Responsibility, those who take control of their own condition always have a high level of responsibility. Responsibility will always trump Fault. Right now, you might be in a job you hate, an abusive relationship, short on cash, or perhaps working a job you can’t stand. Sure, whatever has happened or is happening in the background to create these situations may not be your Fault, but they are 100% your Responsibility. Show me a person with a victim mentality and I will show you a person who does not understand the concept of Fault and Responsibility. People who understand and accept Responsibility also have a high level of control over themselves and their life. I think this is primarily because effort usually spent on finding blame is instead spent on finding solutions to prevent, or change, future negative outcomes. Psychologist Viktor Frankl said it best, “When we are no longer able to change our situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” I learned what this meant the hard way. When my daughter was 11 and diagnosed with cancer, I initially went to a very dark place. It took me about 3-months before I took Responsibility for the situation and changed my mindset. Although I had no actual control over the cancer inside of my daughter’s body, I did have control over her treatment and the mindset with which we all approached life.

Although this article was written in the framework of a couple of my work failures as of late, I am really thinking of my son who just finished 4-years as a Marine stationed in Hawaii. He will be flying home from his base on Tuesday. On Tuesday, he will be unemployed and facing a very different world than the one he left 4 years ago. On Tuesday, there will be no one to order him around in his day and share in the responsibility of his life. I think he is going to have a tough time acclimating to life outside of the Marines because unfortunately he does not understand the concept of Fault and Responsibility. Although I have tried in the past, he just does not get it.  Perhaps he has not fallen enough for the pain caused by inaction to move him to take action.

A life spent blaming others for your condition is both pathetic and miserable. Quit being a spectator. It’s your life. Take control and take action on every front possible. Okay, there are things out of your control, but it is up to you to identify all of the things for which you can control and take action. Focusing on Fault past the point of problem diagnosis will only make things worse. Make yourself accept responsibility for all things that affect you. When you do this, you will find that your life will improve dramatically. It works every time for me, and I bet it will work for you too.

If something is your Responsibility, then it’s also your Fault; Both good and bad.

As always, I hope that what I have written today will give you more power over your life so that you too may Find Your Adventure and Live Your Life.

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