”One of my favorite posters of our office walls reads, ’Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.’ In a company-wide meeting, I asked everyone facing challenges in working with a colleague – which of course is everyone – to speak more honestly to that person. I set a goal that we would all have at least one hard conversation each month.”
Synchronicity is funny – I read this part from Option B after having said precisely these words together with Pernilla Tillander at one in a series of multiple workshops we are holding for att pre-school staff in a small commune in the south of Sweden. Well. No, not verbatim, as we aren’t addressing the staff at Facebook, of course, but the gist of our question was the same: Are you responsible for everything that happens at work?
The first reaction of most people is to say No. A few get confused, and basically no one steps up and says Yes.
– What do you mean, responsible for everything that happens at work? That’s absurd!
– Of course it’s not on me, I can’t take responsibility for everyone at work and their actions!
– Well, yes, but no, I mean, I am responsible for me, but…
– No, the boss has more responsibility than I do.
The magic in this, which Sheryl has also realized, is that when people step in and shoulder responsibility for whatever happens, other people step up as well to share the responsibility. And the opposite is equally true, which I am sure you all recognize from personal experience: When people blame other people, no one steps in to take responsibility; No one actually suggests possible ways out of a muddle; Everyone is busy casting blame and attempts at all cost to avoid having the finger ultimately pointing at oneself.
Now. The point to this reasoning is not to get into a philosophical argument about the impossibility of actually being responsible for e v e r y t h i n g. I mean, I get that, you get that, everyone get’s that. But still – try it. Try stepping in to shoulder responsibility for e v e r y t h i n g and see what happens. How does it feel inside yourself when you do? What’s the reaction of those around you? Do they blame you, start to shout and scream at you, taking the opportunity to throw some more dirt upon your willing shoulders? Or do they join forces with you, sharing the load, taking part in being responsible? Does it make you feel small as a person, or large? What do your colleagues say – do they respond to you as if you are belittling yourself, or them? Or the opposite – when you step in and show yourself as the big person you are, do they show up as their better selves?
Try it out – see what happens!
Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Option B – Facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy” by Sheryl Sandberg.