Saturday, March 16, 2013

Don't Blame It On The Tool

Ever smash your thumb with a hammer? Have the screwdriver slip and poke a hole in your skin?  Seems like human nature is to react by throwing the tool and yelling at it as if it did it to you on purpose, as if the tool had any means of doing anything on its own!

As a society, we work hard to find excuses for all the problems of the world caused by people. Children are protected from over-demanding teachers and coaches, and criminals defended from prosecution under the law. Sadly, many of our role models are stars and athletes with a lifestyle of self indulgence.

We have become a nation of  "not my fault". There is always some reason why we were unable to fulfill some obligation, keep a promise, make a due date or just behave properly. 

When John Belushi is finally cornered by Carrie Fisher in the original Blues Brothers movie, he drops to his knees and strings a series of excuses together; "I ran out of gas! I--I had a flat tire! I didn't have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn't come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT!"

We encounter this very same mindset in the workplace. It was the "system" that failed, not me.

One of my favorite uncles once asked me about a problem with his gas bill. Seems the utility sent an invoice for thousands of dollars which was clearly an error. When he called the company he was told the 'computer' made an error. He asked me, since I was in technology, how computers could make mistakes like this? Of course, computers don't make mistakes, people do.  Perhaps the meter reader transposed digits, or a data entry clerk entered the wrong amount. But someone, some human did something which ultimately caused my uncle's bill to be wrong. We all know the acronym GIGO (garbage in, garbage out.) 

It's easy to miss a deadline because email was down, or the phones were not working. My PC had a virus, my laptop ran out of battery and I didn't have a charger, my cell phone fell in the toilet and the dog ate my spreadsheet. We sound a little like John Belushi. 

Where there is a will, there is a way. First, accept responsibility for your own actions. Don't blame the tool. Don't blame others. Get creative and find ways of overcoming obstacles. Hold to your commitments. Go the extra distance. Strive to reach your goals no matter what may stand in the way.

"It's a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses."

Despite untold numbers of police cars, these boys managed to deliver the money. So "Hit It !!"

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

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