Victims: The People Leaders Deal with Everyday
Self-destructive responses to life multiply like flies on roadkill. The worst response is pervasive and sinister. It’s the lie of victimhood. This lie, like breathing, usually goes unnoticed.
The worst thing about victimhood is there’s truth in the lie. You are a victim. Life is, for the most part, beyond your control.
Rain on your wedding, the time the mail comes, and an undetected tumor in your bowel are all beyond your control. You can’t control people, including your teammates. It’s a good thing you can’t. Everyone would be less than human if you could.
The one thing you can always control in a world gone wild is your response to it. Response is where the subtleties of victimhood take root, grow, and strangle your potential.
Things victims don’t say:
Victims don’t say, “I was late because I slept in.” Who hasn’t blamed traffic?
Are you a victim of heavy traffic? Absolutely! You can’t control the idiot who is texting while driving and rear-ends the car ahead of him.
Politicians are professional victims. Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans. The current administration always blames the previous one or two or three administrations.
Comfort in victimhood:
Victimhood is a cozy fire in a cold world.
Things outside your control are freedom from responsibility. “But he hit me first.”
You aren’t accountable for something you can’t control.
- Victims subtly proclaim innocence.
- Every claim of victimhood affirms helplessness.
- Helplessness is always frustrating.
From victim to victor:
- Choose to do something different next time.
- Shift direction instead of spiraling.
- Forgive and move on, even if you can’t reconcile.
- Explore instead of looking for sympathetic partners that affirm your helplessness.
The only thing you can control – for sure – is your response to things you can’t control.
What expressions of victimhood are you seeing in others? In yourself?
How might leaders defeat the enemy of victimhood?
Progress comes from people who believe they CAN (even if their optomism is unfounded) rather than those who list why they CAN’T .
Making progress against this is difficult, pointing out the potentials in small wins is helpful, but a default to defeat is a very heavy weight.
Thanks Ken. Perhaps the greatest challenge is realizing the ‘default to defeat’ is about me, not the world.
The opposite of being a victim is “being responsible.” Take ownership for what you can do, and will do.
Separate what you can control from what’s beyond your control.
Thank Paul. I have a full plate when I simply focus on things I CAN do and things within my control.
Hi Dan: It’s so true that Victimhood seems rampant today. The most obvious fallout is that people cannot seem to accept that anyone with a different position could have some valid points. It’s all or nothing: you’re for me or against me. That’s really a hard place to be for every topic. I have a sign in my office that says: “What’s my responsibility in this?” and think it would be a good question to start discussions of contention – and if someone says: “I have none!” — then they forfeit.
Kapow! “What’s my responsibility in this?” Dang! I love that question, Mary! I’m going to pass that along to others.
One of my favorite quotes: “If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.” -Richard Bach
Thanks Jerry. Nothing like a truth that hits you between the eyes.
Is the enemy of victimhood actually your friend…? Sorry Dan, I couldn’t resist that.
I think the key way is stop making people responsible for things they can’t control. Easy enough.
BUT… to a lot of people/organisations, the idea that their are things that actually ARE beyond their control, that they have to accept, get around and get on with, is an anathema.
Thanks Mitch. I wonder why more leaders don’t see that they’re asking people to control things that can’t be controlled?
What expressions of victimhood are you seeing in others? In yourself? How might leaders defeat the enemy of victimhood? We seem to see so much “victimhood” in the public square that was not there before (or at least in this scope). Victimhood is everywhere where no one is responsible for their own conduct or helping themselves. We see victimhood starting to cause standards lowering because that’s the only way to make things “right”. Victimhood seems to be a way now to ensure “equal outcome” NOT “equal opportunity”. I just do not see that as a sustainable direction in any sense.
Thanks Roger. Your definition of victimhood is helpful and clear. “Victimhood is everywhere where no one is responsible for their own conduct or helping themselves.”
Thanks for the reminder! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and move forward. Seek council from people smarter than you. If you think you are a victim, think it through. What was my role? In the remote occasions where you are a victim, what could you do to avoid that situation? What did you learn from it. Grieve briefly and move on!
Thanks Rich. You describe useful responses to situations beyond your control. So, there is always a response available, even when we can’t change anything about a situation.
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