I did all my planning. Everything was accounted for and ready to go. All that had to be done was to execute. I rested easily—until out of the blue, something happened I hadn’t counted on. All my communication and confirmation still wasn’t enough. Now I was left with anxiety and some decisions and adjustments to make.
I have to admit, it was so tempting to begin looking for fault and blame. After all, I did my part. Ahead of time. Thoroughly. Completely. There’s no way I could have done anything better or more. I was so ready to follow Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s advice when he said, “All there is to do now is assign blame.” The problem is that finding blame and fault don’t really help.
You see, when you debrief to find fault and assign blame, you are simply determining what didn’t go exactly as planned and that if it did, all would have been right. Woopee. That doesn’t help anything. If you are going to move the ball down the field, you have to ask yourself this question: “What could I have done differently?”
When you ask the question, you aren’t admitting you’re at fault. You’re not even looking for what you could have done better or more of. You simply entertain the idea that maybe there was something different that could have prevented the mishap. Professionals who feel responsible for results have the courage to venture down this path. Just getting to “it wasn’t me!” is not at all attractive or becoming.
Back to my mishap (did I tell you I was innocent?). As it turned out, the other party assumed the responsibility for the mistake and moved heaven and earth to make it right. I didn’t have to make any adjustments or decisions after all. Hooyah! But I did come up with something I will do differently next time that will add one more filter to prevent a mistake. And I wouldn’t have found it if I didn’t ask the question.
So, when should you be asking the question instead of going on a witch hunt? How can you get past resting on “I did everything right” to “what else could I have done?” It’s what professionals do.