When you listen to the pundits, you’ll hear enough negative noise that it can’t do anything but ruin your holiday cheer. As the saying goes, “if I had a dollar for every negative word written about the economy, housing, stock market, and automobile industry, I’d be a very rich man.” There is certainly plenty of negative speak to satisfy a healthy diet of “it’s not my fault.”

“It’s not my fault” is a cold-like virus that spreads when we don’t accept responsibility for our part in failure and find it easier to cast blame on someone else. After all, “I couldn’t be the one to blame; I just work here” is usually the first sign that you have been infected with the virus. It begins when things aren’t going great, and rather than taking the responsibility, we pass it on to others.

Economy slowdowns are particularly yeasty occasions for this virus to grow. “The economy“ is probably the single, biggest virus-carrying culprit in the whole ecosystem. The “it’s not my fault” virus can be found in watering holes and social events where workers blame their managers, directors, directors blame their vice presidents, vice presidents blame the president and CEO, and managers blame their CEOs blame the economy. It all comes back to the darn economy’s fault.

How often do you think: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I showed up for work, did my job, and left on time. I can’t help it that my manager is an idiot and made some stupid decisions on a new product introduction and misjudged the demand for this idea—that I knew wouldn’t work. Man, the guy is such a jerk! He just doesn’t get it. I never said anything; I just let him fail.”

Yes, it’s great when “it’s not my fault.” I can stand back with a sense of pride and arrogance knowing that I did nothing wrong. I simply did nothing. After all, why should I? Why should I spend time reading about the competition? Why should I share my thoughts and ideas? Why should I look for a better, less expensive way to do my job? Why should I help save the company money? Why should I work harder? I certainly don’t get paid extra. I mean—the company didn’t even give me a bonus this year. This company sucks anyway, I just work here. Sure, I get paid, but I’m entitled to that.

The great news is that the “it’s not my fault” virus can be cured. You can help stop spreading it. You can work as teams. You can share ideas. You can take ownership of your projects. You can out-work your competitors. You can develop new ideas. You can provide input. You can do almost anything, and that is the single, biggest cure for the virus.

And because you are the single, biggest asset in any company, you have the ability to stop spreading the virus and bring positive change to your organization. You have what it takes to cure this disease. You can make a difference, and don’t be surprised when you find out you are sharing in the rewards. Now, go do it!

Willing to work harder,
Scott McCafferty

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Comment by Mario Luis Leyva Carballo on November 23, 2010 at 7:33am
In my case I face two different virus: the "it;s not my fault" virus, and the "put the blame on USA embargo s. Cuba". By the way, I am Cuba and live in there! This is not a joke, but it's funny anyway.
Thanks for your post, we need more of this wherever we come from.
Comment by Michael Slattery on May 14, 2009 at 1:10pm
In reaction to your post, Scott, I would have to admit that I could probably serve my company better by taking certain steps that you mention, such as sharing my ideas more openly, or taking the initiative more often. But though I might possibly muster additional positive input, I do put a lot of energy into avoiding negative output, such as by sidestepping potential conflicts, or witholding useless criticism. For maintaining good workplace relationships, I believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Comment by Kristin Rodeno on January 29, 2009 at 9:04am
Great article!!! WTWH, K rod


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