It is as old as mankind. It is the oldest and one of the easiest games in the world to play because anyone can play it. I am talking about the blame game. Adam started it in Eden when God asked him to account for his whereabouts in relation to where he had been originally positioned. He blamed his wife for his shift. He blamed God too for giving him such a wife. “The woman you gave me…” was his reply to the simple question, “Have you eaten of the fruit I asked you not to eat?” When the woman was confronted, she in turn blamed the devil. Neither of them accepted responsibility for their gaffe! Perhaps humanity would have been saved its current precipitous trajectory to self-destruct if only they had simply owned up and sought forgiveness! A significant number of people are like that. Once we can find someone to blame for something, we believe that the responsibility of owning the situation and changing it is shifted from us. After all, why should we fix it if we did not cause it? What distinguishes responsible people from others? They Never trade blames. Their concern is always about the way forward not an analysis of the problem, its cause or its magnitude. If they seek to know cause, it is to avoid repeating the error if the same factors that caused it remain. Children blame parents for not sending them to a certain type of school, oblivious of the fact that success is in the student not in the school he attended. For many people, if their new bride does not conceive on time, the government must be responsible. On several occasions, I have seen victims of market fire incidents literally blaming government for the incident even when they had blocked with illegal structures, all passage ways designed for fire trucks! So when a fire broke out, there was no access for fire trucks that came to do the needful. The blame game is convenient but it has never been known to solve any problem. It didn’t for Adam and his wife. It won’t for you either.
Nobody becomes great by identifying a problem. Neither is significant recognition given to the one who identifies the problem and those who caused it! Problem analysis is as easy as eating a piece of cake! Attention may be given to the analyst for a while, but recognition goes to the problem-solver. Responsible people are Solution-oriented. Problem identifiers and analysts only see and think snapshots. Responsible people see and think systems. While others think parts, they think whole. Instead of being fixated on or grounded around a cause, they focus on a preferred outcome and begin their thinking from there. When they interrogate issues or problems, it is because they desire to iterate it towards a solution.
Do you desire true greatness? Look for a problem of your society that affects a significant number of people and which touches your heart. Think through a solution. Deploy it and see if you have to struggle for recognition. Social media has recently been agog with praises and recognition for Chief Onyeama, CEO of Air Peace. Why? He made his commercial airplanes available free of charge to bring back to Nigeria, victims of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. He and his airline got more publicity and recognition for that singular act in one day than all the adverts he could have spent money on in one year!
Because they don’t usually guide themselves by the usual, everyday, pedestrian line of thought on any issue, responsible people are Innovative. They have no problem generating new ideas. They are constantly seeking new solutions to old or existing problems. They are not just thinking outside the box. More often than not, they don’t even countenance the existence of a box! Innovation and creativity function from the fringes of the limits of current thought. The thoughts that produced a problem cannot be expected to generate the solution! Progress in any collective is largely tied to the quality of innovative thought that runs it. Only those who don’t see the status quo as their fait accompli can significantly add value to their society. Most people are complicit compliers with status quo. When the boat rocks, they panic! But for responsible people, the rocking boat is their opportunity to show mastery over the storm!
For this reason, responsible people are Barrier-breakers. They are not ignorant of current challenges and the attendant road-blocks but through the process of uncommon thought, they are able to come up with novel ideas that lead towards a resolution. So, to them, mountains exist more in the imagination than in reality. When faced with what others see as mountains, they consider going under it, walking through it, using it as a stepping-stone by climbing over it, or they simply walk round it. When confronted with a Jericho with its impregnable walls, their focus is never on the obstacle. They are concerned with accessing the prosperity shut in behind those walls!
It is therefore not a surprise that responsible people are natural Leaders! Leaders are not those who merely show others the way but those who go the way before they show it to others. Those who take responsibility for their current situation and the preferred outcomes that they seek are always like compasses to the rest of society. With no struggle whatsoever, they seem to naturally gravitate to the top because the quality of their input makes them natural fits for that spot!
Finally, responsible people are not afraid to Engage people and situations as long as such engagement would lead to a solution. They are not afraid of initiating a move or meeting anyone connected with the process of getting something done. They never let their ego get in the way of commitment to a cause they believe in. I watched an instructive video recently. In it, there was a heavy and windy storm that had felled a big tree across a busy highway. The attendant logjam had created an interminably long line of vehicles. Everyone, including law enforcement officials, however stayed put in their vehicles as if waiting for government or some deus ex machina intervention to move the heavy log out of the way. Until one boy on his way to school, dropped his bag and stepped into the rain. While everyone looked on wondering what he was up to, the drenched lad moved towards the heavy log and tried to give it a push. I am not sure that he expected it to budge but at least, he gave it a try. Seeing the gallantry of the young boy who could have climbed over the log and scampered towards his destination, his action seemed to be the signal everyone was waiting for as able-bodied men now emerged from the nearby houses, sheds and their cars to give a hand. In a matter of minutes, the log was out of the way and traffic flow restored, thanks to a small boy who engaged a situation and took responsibility.
You aim for greatness? Good idea. But are you R.E.S.P.O.N.S.I.B.L.E?
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!