Life's Too Short ... To Take Credit for Things You Don't Do

By Betty Sinclair


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There are at least three things I cannot take credit for:

1. Environmentalism - I think I've a carbon footprint the size of a small European country and life may be too short to get it into balance (trying).

2. Peace and love in the world - spent way too long being angry at myself and others (getting better).

3. The 2010 Winter Olympic Games success - I was at best a 'didn't care' person who felt a bit inconvenienced and then I got caught up in the swell when the event was on but way too late to take any credit for the outcome.

So, it's clear that I can miss the boat; however there are things I didn't miss, like the resurgences of jazz and French Impressionism - I jumped on those things so early that I surely must be able to take a little credit.

Now that I've disclosed my personal status vis a vis taking credit, I need you to know that I was inspired to write on this matter not for personal reasons but because of listening to the story of a friend and her experience with a less than honourable person.

My friend is someone who understands what it takes to get a job done well, she is genuinely thrilled at the success of others - for instance, she is usually the first with the email-high five. She shares the credit around and being a fearless leader she will take one on the chin for the team.

If anything critical can be said, she maybe does all of the above to a fault and I say to a a fault because lurking in may places of work are people who, without a blush, will take the credit for anything without a word for the effort of others - even when their chief contribution has been to stay out of the way. Sounds bitter, but the larger lesson here is that some people forget to fill up the team fuel account and are quite content to only make withdrawals. Unfortunately, they can ultimately bankrupt the team when it simply runs out of juice.

A lesson for each party:

For the taker - life's too short for you to stay on this trip - you may not have enough time left with the group to grow and come out of the experience positively. One experience like this would be bad, but repeated time after time you might suddenly wonder why you are a little lonely. Good rule of thumb - when in doubt say thanks and share the glory. Now everyone gets to look shiny.

For the giver - life's too short too feel sorry for yourself and angry for other victims (aka holding grudges). Darn it, but we don't always get what we deserve and maybe the way to grow is to reflect on the possibility that you helped to the create your particular monster. For example, in my case I would need to consider how many times I let my jaw drop instead of speaking up?

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about leadership and how the great ones share praise and shoulder blame. It's nice to know that as a general rule the good prosper, even if in some particular cases it doesn't work out that way.

More insightful and entertaining work from Betty Sinclair can be found on her blog: http://betty2short.blogspot.com/

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