We live in an age addicted to the defense, “it’s not my fault.” Consider these examples:
In 2002, Edward Brewer sued Providence Hospital for $2 million. He claimed that the hospital was negligent because it had not prevented him from raping one of its patients. The judge ruled that any damage Brewer suffered due to his crime was his responsibility for choosing to commit the crime, and that the hospital had no legal duty to protect him from that choice.
In 2003, Andrew Burnett sued Sara McBurnett and the San Jose Mercury News, claiming they had caused him to suffer mental anguish and post traumatic stress disorder. Burnett filed the lawsuit while serving a three-year sentence for killing defendant McBurnett’s dog in a road rage incident, claiming that the incident had caused his suffering.
In 2005, Austin Aitken sued NBC for $2.5 million. He claimed that an episode of “Fear Factor” caused him “suffering, injury and great pain.” He said that watching the contestants eat rats on television made him dizzy and light-headed, causing him to vomit and run into a doorway.
Of course, let’s not forget the kids who sued McDonalds for making them fat, or Miami lawyer Mark S. Gold, who got drunk at a local strip club last November, then woke up the next morning with a tab of nearly $19,000. He promptly sued the strip club’s corporate owner, claiming he should not be held responsible for the huge bill because the bar “continuously served plaintiff alcoholic beverages to the extent that he was rendered intoxicated…”
Just as I’m sure you have, I have also endured numerous business versions of this absolution of responsibility ranging from:
“My area is different and unique and there are no talented people here” (as though the Creator cursed a particular city or state with nothing but laggards, louses and losers), to dealers in California who credited their genius for record sales when the Golden State’s economy was rolling, but who quickly blame “being in California” for lower profits when the economy tanked. Hmmm, it seems that if you’re going to take credit for the rain, you’ve got to accept some blame for the drought. Could part of the problem be that the good times created arrogance, loosened key disciplines, and put some of these “victims” to sleep?
A mature leader understands that it is his or her inside decisions more than outside conditions that will ultimately determine how far they are able to take their team. This is not to say that conditions: economic, acts of God and other factors beyond your control, are not relevant because they are. However, consistently making the right decisions can minimize the impact of adverse conditions because it establishes a rock solid foundation to help your dealership weather the same storms that destroy enterprises built on foundations of sand.
The following are some points to encourage you and your team to take more responsibility for your personal and business results. They will help you rise above today’s blame game that reduces people to sniveling, pathetic, clods of complacency who slouch through life assuming the position, acting like victims, growing old, but never growing up.
1. You reap what you sow. A surprising number of either cocky or foolish people don’t seem to believe that this universal law applies to them. But the fact is, if you go through life sowing seeds of inconsistency, compromises, and minimum effort, you shouldn’t be surprised when you reap a banquet of mediocrity.
If you don’t proactively recruit, your dealership will reap morons that you’ll hire out of desperation just to have coverage. If you fail to hold people accountable, you’ll reap a culture where you stand for nothing, fall for everything and where anything goes. If you neglect training your people, you’ll reap constant employee turnover, more missed deals and rashes of red ink. You get the idea. Life is not complicated and there is no secret to success. If you don’t like what you’re reaping, sow something else! The following are four basic, but effective sample decisions that sow right seeds and bring robust harvests:
- Hire slowly. Commit to proactive recruiting and rigorous interviews. Use hiring as an elimination process. It’s better to be strategically short-staffed than foolishly filled up.
- Fire faster. Establish minimum standards that cause poor performers to remove themselves from your welfare roll if they can’t hit the standards you’ve prescribed.
- Make consistent training a non-negotiable. Hold departmental managers accountable for making it happen. Resolve that getting better at your dealership is not an option.
- Create a clear and bold vision. Vision brings a focus that unites all departments, and converts everyone’s role from a mere “job” to a compelling cause.
2. Neither success nor failure is an accident. While someone may catch a lucky or bad break from time to time, over the course of a career, you don’t succeed or fail by accident. You either set yourself up for these things or you don’t. Author Jim Rohn defined success as “a few right decisions repeated daily.” He defined failure as, “a few wrong decisions repeated daily.”
Decisions, of course, are matters that you are responsible for. Wherever you are today in life or business—good or bad—is the result of decisions you’ve made in the past. And where you wind up six months, one year, ten years from now, will be greatly influenced by the decisions you make today. There’s no getting around it: right decisions done repeatedly compound success, and wrong decisions, done repeatedly, compound failure.
It may be time for you, or various team members, to stop blaming mom and dad, your teacher, the school you went to, your ethnic background, gender, the manufacturer, government or competition for your lack of greater success. Every human being alive has endured their share of trials, setbacks, failures and betrayals. What separates the winners from the whiners is having the integrity and maturity to use these realities as stepping stones to shape your future rather than seeing them as stumbling blocks that shape and define you. For those who insist on babbling on about how unfair life is, and how the other guy always gets all the breaks, I recommend that they read the book by Larry Winget, Shut Up, Stop Whining, And Get a Life!