You may remember the song by Jefferson Airplane, “When the truth is found to be lies. And all the joy within you dies. Don’t you want somebody to love?” Well, today we would write it differently. We would ask, “Don’t you want somebody to blame?”
I don’t know how to pinpoint when it happened, but we have become a nation of blamers. Your team loses, blame the referees or the coach. The Dallas Cowboys owner is trying to decide who to fire for the loss they endured recently. Everything that is wrong in our country falls at the feet of the president. This is not just a one-party phenomenon; the former president was blamed for everything bad as well. We may never again have a president with a 60% approval rating as each party feels it’s their duty to savage the other party. So, a president has an automatic 25% disapproval factor built in.
The pandemic, a national emergency which should have united us, has been another divider. Those who want to batten down the hatches are blamed as business suppressors, while those who champion personal freedom are berated by those who see it differently. It seems likely to me that we needed some of both and calmer minds could have come together to produce a balanced strategy. The reason this didn’t happen is that both sides were more focused on being right and blaming those other guys. I can’t help believing that if we had a strong leader like Kennedy or Reagan, things would be different. The blame game is negative and produces nothing positive.
I’m reminded how debilitating blame seeking can be as I recall a business experience. I had just joined a growing company who seemed to have survived whatever dooms startups. During my first week, the bad news came that we were losing our largest client. This client produced almost one third of our revenue. So, during my second week, the new HR VP and I had to let go countless employees to keep the fragile company afloat. The blame started immediately as many of the leaders spent valuable time trying to place blame for the loss. The truth was that the client had been a poor fit for us. We should not have agreed to provide the services they were seeking. We had no experience doing what they wanted and they couldn’t even define their needs. My point is that it took us too long to see this reality and to decide to move on to find new clients needing what we could provide. The story had a happy ending, and the company was successful, but it was a close call. We were paralyzed by the blame game.
My old mentor used to refer to negative people as those who look for fault like there’s a reward for it. One place where finding fault is rewarded is in the media. Bad news, negativity and finding fault is what news has become. Cable news has converted their ability to bash the opposition party into a way to tie core listeners to the daily bash. We seem to be addicted to it. They start with “remember what I told you yesterday, well, it’s worse today.” Then, the listeners spread the exaggerations and tortured facts on social media as if they were real.
Now I’m doing it. Finding fault with the fault finders. Please let me change the topic. For the last two weekends, I have spent time at our local grocery stores selling tickets to participate in the Rotary Ice Melt. Not everyone I approached was interested, but everyone was pleasant and positive. It was fun and I enjoyed the interface with so many nice Evergreen people. It reminded me that most people are great, and finding pleasantness is way more fun than finding fault.
By the way, you can participate by going to evergreenicemelt.com and putting in your guesses. It’s fun and no one could find fault with helping the EPRD’s special needs program and EChO.
Jim Rohrer of Evergreen is a business consultant and author of the books “Improve Your Bottom Line … Develop MVPs Today” and “Never Lose Your Job … Become a More Valuable Player.” Jim’s belief is that common sense is becoming less common. More about Jim at www.theloyaltypartners.com.