To Err Is Human: To Admit It, Divine.

I like to promote the concept of Teaching to Learn, first made known to me in reading books by management and leadership expert Stephen R. Covey. Its basis lies in the belief that the best way to encourage a student to take in what is being taught, is to oblige the student to pass on what is learned. If you’re duty bound to pass on an important message you’ll concentrate on that message. For my part I have been doing that for 20 years, in respect of the content of Covey’s books, particularly in schools.

I have committed to doing that for my next seven posts, so here is todays’ lesson as it pertains to time and self-management in the policing world.

A core approach to self-management is the concept of personal responsibility. You may assume you already possess this trait, but research and philosophy in this area suggests that we could all apply it at a deeper level.  By ‘personal responsibility’ we don’t just mean admitting mistakes – we mean for everything.

That means never blaming circumstances for problems, but seeking instead to accept they exist and to focus, deliberately, on the solutions. It means identifying what we want to do, where we want to go, even who we are – and making every effort to ‘make it so’. It also means acknowledging that it is our own fault if we fail – or perhaps, put better, our own responsibility. We can accept blame when it is ours to claim, but we can also look at situations caused by ‘them out there’ and consider how much of the negative outcome was simply down to us.

For example, I fell foul of an employment situation and admittedly felt like lashing out, but I had to acknowledge I played my own part – in some ways I failed personally, in others I failed to act on a nagging feeling I had that, shall we say, empowered and enabled that personal failing.

Taking 100% Responsibility is hard, because it recognises that fault will lie with us, but at the same time it is empowering because it almost forces us to plan ahead, to consider the options and consequences, and to plan towards the better outcome. It also, if you can take it to the fullest extent, overcomes the negativity and debilitation caused by the tendency to apportion blame and focus on revenge (even if only considered as a theory….). In other words – taking responsibility helps because it stops you getting angry.

So next time a boss has a go – accept your part and let him/her keep all the negative emotion. I used to wonder why bosses got angry when I was the one in trouble. I’d be the one being punished and truly inconvenienced. They just had to do the paperwork. But if I was in the wrong I’d look inside myself, accept what (if anything) I had caused, address it and move on. Literally, in the one case.

And all the emotional energy NOT used in blaming can be used to prepare for what is to come, to live and work towards what you want out of this job, and to provide your stakeholders with the service they deserve.

Next time you feel a negative emotion – and you will – stop for a moment and think, “What is MY part in this situation and how can I make it better?” , instead of wasting valuable time revisiting and rationalising someone else’s responsibility. Let them do that.

You’re busy moving on and going places.

Published by policetimemanagement

30 year policing veteran and time management authority. Now I've combined the two.

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