“Take your life in your own hands, and what happens?
A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

– Erica Jong

Do you feel annoyed when people complain? If so, it turns out there’s a good reason why. Listening to too much complaining is bad for your brain in multiple ways, according to Trevor Blake, an entrepreneur and author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life. “If you’re pinned in a corner too long listening to someone being negative, you’re more likely to behave that way as well.”

If you want to be the master of your mind (not it’s victim) you need to own everything in your life. Own it all. Own the good stuff, own the bad stuff, own how you feel and own your reactions. Own It! No blaming, complaining or excuses is the third success secret in my book, Fearless Leaders.

Most people weaken themselves by blaming, complaining and making excuses. A Fearless Leader takes full responsibility, not just for successes, but for setbacks as well. When you take full responsibility, you take control of your life.

It takes strength to admit to a mistake. There’s nothing easy about it. You have to fight every natural impulse to allow yourself to be open to ridicule or judgment. It’s an enormous sign of power to those around you when you can show them that you’re not afraid to fail, or admit to having responsibility for what’s not working in your life.

When you begin to think like a Fearless Leader, you’ll see how blaming, complaining and making excuses are quite prevalent in most organizations and keep both individuals and teams underperforming. Take, for example, a conversation I had with a small business owner who had requested a training session for his sales team.

Gary, the owner, said, “I would love it if my sales team was coached in the [your success] secrets,”

“Great,” I replied, “Sales professionals who apply these secrets become far better revenue producers and happier people.” Then I added, “You do need to know though that there are some specific guidelines for participants in this program that include no blaming, complaining or making excuses during the coaching period.”

Hearing this, Gary grabbed his head with both hands above his ears as if in great agony and said, “If my sales people can’t blame, complain, or make excuses, I’m going to have a sales team that doesn’t talk!”

Most people are just like Gary’s sales team. Their default method of thinking and communicating actually disempowers them. They may complain about different aspects of their jobs, the economy, the weather, their spouse, their boss, their kids. They waste their time, energy and brainpower on what they don’t control.

Whereas Fearless Leaders rarely or never indulge in this type of negativity. They understand that blaming, complaining, or making excuses mentally weakens them. It makes them a victim of their own thinking and high-performers don’t ever want to fall into a victim role.

A lack of commitment very often becomes a breeding ground for excuses. And justifying failure to rationalize why you are not doing or achieving whatever it is you want is an all too easy habit.

Please consider, own everything. If you want something, commit to doing what it takes to attain it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s a setback. Don’t be a victim and blame, own it. Learn from what didn’t work and move forward. If you have reasonably healthy self-esteem and self-confidence, then you will benefit by mastering the desire to make yourself feel better in the short term by blaming, complaining or making excuses. In the long run, these actually make you weaker. They erode self-confidence and self-esteem (unless they are extremely low to begin with).

Ready to test your “Own It” muscles? Try out this exercise.


To learn more about becoming a Fearless Leader, see Fearless Leaders: Sharpen Your Focus: How the New Science of Mindfulness Can Help You Reclaim Your Confidence, by TC North, Ph.D. and Cathy Greenberg, Ph.D. (Waterfront Digital Press, 2014).

Learn more about the Fearless and Mindful LeadersTM Group here.

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