Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bernie and the Blame Game

Bernie Sanders is a likeable guy with a good heart and good intentions but he's the exact wrong person to lead America into a better future for one major reason: his complete and total lack of personal responsibility.

He's spent his entire life not only blaming other people for his failures but teaching other people to do the same. That's not what America needs. It's not what's going to lead Americans to a better future.

The Problem with the Blame Game

I used to work with a lady. She was smart, she was knowledgeable, and she did a lot of community outreach. The kind of person you might say was a good person. She was constantly late arriving to work. When you would ask her why she was late, she would tell you, "I got stuck in traffic."

She saw herself as a victim of this monster known as "traffic." She couldn't see how she could escape it, so she was doomed to continually be its victim. As long as she blamed traffic for her problems, she couldn't take ownership of them. She couldn't free herself from those problems because she didn't see herself as an agent of change. She didn't believe it was possible to solve the problem, so she never sought solutions to it.

Those solutions might have been as simple as changing her route, or getting up and leaving the house 15 minutes earlier. But as long as she blamed traffic, she couldn't find those solutions because she wasn't looking for them.

Blame Is Easier

I understand why people want to blame others. It's easier. It requires no accountability for our own mistakes in life. It doesn't require any self-examination or introspection. It's looks like a "get out of jail free" card. But it isn't. In fact, blame will keep you and your best self locked up in a prison of anger, helplessness, and frustration. It will leave you feeling like you're worthless and powerless.

But blame is seductive. That's why so many people are falling under Bernie's spell. They are listening as he promises that if they just elect him, he'll be able to wave his magic wand and everything will be better for them. The economy will magically fix itself, poor people will magically have everything fixed for them and finally be able to live decently, and the world will instantly become a better place.

Except that it won't, because all of that is a lie. All of it.

Bernie doesn't hold the power to make everything better. He can't change the choices we make. He can't find the solutions to our problem because that's our job. He can't fix the economy because he doesn't understand how it works. He can't help empower the poor because he isn't empowered himself. And at the end of the day, the world will not be a better place with Bernie at the helm. It will be a place where people blame everyone else for where they are and never see how they could change their circumstances just by changing the choices they make.

Real Empowerment Begins With Responsibility

A great leader doesn't succeed at everything they do. Failure is the hallmark of the successful. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not. In order to succeed at anything, you must be willing to fail at least a thousand times. Any great leader knows that. They know that failure is a sign you are trying. Failure is a sign you are making an effort. Failure is a good thing.

The difference between Bernie and a great leader isn't failure. Bernie's failed at plenty of things in life, and he's succeeded at plenty of things because of it, too. The difference between Bernie and a great leader is that a great leader acknowledges what they did that contributed to the failure so they can learn from it and make improvements. They don't blame others for the failure, and they don't run from it, they own it and they use it as a stepping stone to personal growth and achievement.

Empowerment and Blame

When you blame someone else for where you are in life, you admit that they are in the drivers seat of your life. You have to wait for them to change before you can change. Blame blinds you to the power you have to change your life just by choosing to change your behavior.

You can't control everything that happens to you. But you have 100% control over what you choose to do about it, and that knowledge is the difference between success and failure. Taking ownership of your choices is what empowers you. Blame robs you of that power by robbing you of the ability to see how you can change things.

You don't have to wait for a politician or a billionaire to change things for you. You can make changes to your life starting today, right now, by deciding to own your failures and learn from them. You can make changes today by examining where you are dissatisfied with your life and then asking yourself what you can do to improve. Find one problem and research solutions. Read up on it. There's help out there to get almost anywhere you want to go in life if you'll look for it and take advantage of it.

Blame Divides

When you blame other people for your problems, you can't sit down across the table from them and learn from them. You make them your enemy, and you make success a zero-sum game where there are only winners or losers at the end of the day. Healthy relationships and healthy business practices aren't a win-lose proposition. They are a win-win for everyone.

This nation is already divided in so many ways. The last thing we need is another leader whose blame game will create more of them. We don't need someone who blames others for his failures. We need someone who will own those failures, be accountable for them, and see himself as empowered to learn from them and grow. 

Nice Guy, Bad Leader

Bernie's a nice guy. I respect the man, and I believe that he is speaking from the heart in what he speaks about the positive changes he wants for this country. However, I cannot and will not ever vote for him as long as he continues on the path he's on because I can't vote for a man who doesn't see the power his choices have over the outcome and who sincerely believes that everyone else is to blame for his problems. That man is a danger to himself and to the nation. That man isn't ready to lead.

The Invitation to Change

Bernie can become a great leader. He can outshine all the other candidates on the stage if he will step away from the blame game and evaluate his life. He's become a successful Senator on a platform of blame, but blame isn't what put him in the Senate. It was all that is good about Bernie that put him there: his hard work, his dedication to a cause he believes in, his willingness to commit himself completely to the service of others, his tenacity in standing up for and fighting for those who feel they have no voice. 

Those were the things that led to Bernie's success, and if Bernie wants to succeed in securing the presidency, he needs to couple those positive things with the willingness to own his failures and to learn from them. He needs to help Americans sit across the tables from those who have achieved greater things than they have and learn from them, rather than encouraging them to blame and so rob themselves of that chance. 

This is my invitation to Bernie: 73 is not too old to change. 73 is not too old to choose a different path in life. Be the leader you were meant to be, and teach your people how to rise above failure by owning it rather than running from it or blaming others for it.

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