I love reading Seth Godin’s daily blog. In a recent post, No One to Say No he said “people are not afraid of failure, they are afraid of blame”.

I couldn’t agree more. And yet, these days it seems that most people are playing The Blame Game. When something goes wrong, the first reaction is “who can we blame?”

The Blame Game Makes Us All Losers

The Blame Game turns us backwards. It’s a fight to rewrite history in our favor. To wash our hands while making someone else pay for the mistakes that were made.

Certainly, there is value in learning from past events; the After Action Review process used by the US military is a shining example. It makes everyone better.

Playing The Blame Game shuts down any learning. Everyone goes into self-protective “spin mode”. We lose the opportunity to find common lessons that all sides can apply to the next round of effort.

The Blame Game also destroys relationships. Trust disappears. We don’t give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who disagrees with us. Instead of engaging with them, we try to destroy their credibility. This kills our ability to collaborate. Diversity is no longer an asset.

The good news? We are interconnected like never before. We can access any information in real time. We can communicate within seconds with almost anyone on the planet. We can “crowd source” money and people power with breathtaking speed scope. Anyone can generate a “ripple effect”.

The bad news? The Blame Game wastes the potential of interconnection. It’s fed by fear and stoked by ego. It creates panic when calm focus is needed.

Refuse to be a Blame Thrower.

In 1933, during the world’s greatest economic depression, FDR rallied us by declaring, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. The mood of the nation changed overnight. Hope and determination began to replace fear and blame.

Refuse to play The Blame Game. Tamp down fear. Embrace the situation. Bring together strange bedfellows to solve big problems.

Ask better questions instead of finger-pointing.

  1. Where are we now? What’s our starting point?
  2. Where do we all want to go? What’s our common destination?
  3. What collective actions can we take now to move in that direction?

Keep repeating that cycle of questions as you steer forward; learn as you go and gaining confidence in working together. Take advantage of diverse viewpoints. Generate alignment and commitment to try something even where perfect agreement is not present. Agree to keep steering together as things unfold.

Play The Exuberance Game.

The Blame Game is based on fear. The Exuberance Game is based on a love affair with whatever life brings. It’s filled with the energy that inspires collective action.

Turn off the fear-mongers and the “blame throwers”. Disengage from the conversations that pull you into complaining and blaming.

Create your own ripple effect of exuberance. Spread the joy of rallying together to create positive change. Place the mission above your ego.

You will discover that most people yearn to work together, trust each other, and get things done for the good of everyone.