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Only Yourself To Blame

November 9, 2015

Daddy! She’s pulling my hair!

This was a physical impossibility. I knew it was because “she” was an 18 month old toddler and the “victim” was a 5 year. Sure, a toddler certainly can pull hair, but not with their current seating. We were in a rented Dodge Caravan. We’d been a sedan family but were considering moving to a minivan. We had the two kids, but knew that we would want more kids. 

I knew that the baby couldn’t pull her sister’s hair because the baby was in a car seat in the middle seat and the kindergartner was in the back seat. It was impossible for the baby to reach back that far. 

Ow! Make her stop!

Last week I wrote about getting lost. (It Was My Fault, But Not For The Reason You Think.) I blamed myself for not bringing a map. 

How often are we are own worst enemy? 

While working for Microsoft many years ago I ended up on a team as a Program Manager. I had had a successful career at Microsoft up to that point, but hadn’t really worked as a PM on a development team. PMs are the glue that holds the projects together. I was pretty weak glue. My developers pretty much did what they wanted. My testers worked directly with the developers and sometimes didn’t even invite me to their meetings. 

And I didn’t know what to do. So, I kept doing what I had been doing. I worked hard, I really did. But, I was working badly. And it didn’t end well. It wasn’t the first time I’d been fired, but it hurt the worst. Looking back, it wold be easy to blame my developers or my testers or my managers, or even the other PMs. 

The fault wasn’t with any of them. It was my fault. 

I knew I was struggling. I didn’t know how to get better. And Microsoft is not a place that does a lot of “reaching out” to help employees who are struggling. 

I should have left. Once I figured out that I couldn’t be successful at that job, I should have gotten out of Dodge. I didn’t. I thought, “If I work a little harder, I can turn this around.” 

You own your career, just like I own mine. No one is going to care as much about your career as you do. If your situation is tough, change it. 

I know how trite that can sound to some people. I’ve been in situations where I really wanted to change my circumstances, but I couldn’t. I was well and truly trapped; stuck in a state where I had no job prospects, deep in debt with no way out. I could blame my lying partner that doublecrossed me. I could blame the situation. I could blame a lot of things. But, really there was only one person to blame: me. 

I took on all the debt that weighed on me like an anchor. I’m the one that chose to move across the country on the word of someone I barely knew. I’m the one that signed to buy a house that I really couldn’t afford. 

While I was in the tough spot, I really wanted out. And eventually thanks to some help from family, and a ton of hard work, I managed to move back to Seattle. I managed to get back on with Microsoft, and I managed to pay off my $80,000 in debt. 

I’m responsible for me and my decisions. I was laid off one time from a large non-profit. It took me 13 months to find another job. Things got really lean during those months. I could have blamed the non-profit for laying me off. I could have blamed the terrible economy that made jobs scarce. But, there was really only one person to blame: Me. 

I’d liet my skills lapse while working at the non-profit. I’d not kept up an online profile. I had assumed I’d work there forever and didn’t worry about keeping my resume current. The decisions I make today may not have an impact on today’s job. But, I have learned I need to look to the future. I need to prepare for my next job, and the one after that. I need to constantly be improving, even if it’s just reading a business book, or learning a new technology. I have all the time in the world to prepare for the future. If I fail to take advantage of that time, I have no one to blame but myself. 

We pulled the van over the side of the road and turned to the backseats. Sure enough, the baby had a big  handful of my daughter’s hair. 

There’s no way she could reach back there. How did she manage to get her hands on your hair?

Well. . .I leaned forward so she could reach it.

No one to blame but herself. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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