When something goes wrong what is your natural reaction?
This concept is easily demonstrated through the child's mind. For example, perhaps your children have been playing a little too quietly and on investigation you discover an entire jar of marmalade has been spread on the white walls of your children's bedroom.
You immediately ask John (who is six and a bit of a ring-leader) if he is the perpetrator. John's first response is denial; 'No it wasn't me'. So you ask Jane (who is four and giggling to herself - although she is younger, she's a bit smarter). She uses another below the line response (blame) and says 'It was John', hoping he'll get in trouble and she'll retain her status as Daddy's pet. So you allow John a chance at rebuttal and he fires back an excuse; 'Jane told me to do it', which reinforces Jane as being pretty clever as she can have fun with John AND get him in trouble at the same time.
John and Jane are just kids.
As adults, when something goes wrong naturally our first thought is often below the line. However, we are better off in the long run to behave in an above the line way. To accept responsibility and take ownership and be accountable for our error.
- Ownership: 'Sorry Dad it was me, I knew it was the wrong thing to do. Why don't you put some toast on and I'll scrape the walls and marmalade it for you.'
- Accountability: 'I'm sorry Dad, what can I do to make it up to you?' - In which case you make John scrape it off and eat it!
- Responsibility: 'It's my fault Dad, I told John to do it.' And Jane elevates herself straight back to Daddy's pet status!
I believe this is the most powerful behaviour model ever. No matter how old you are or what your situation is, your long term results and relationships will be 100 times better if you act above the line. You'll build trust, respect and enduring relationships. Also, if you teach this model to your children, your friends and your workmates, you'll build lasting relationships and an impressive work culture.
When we are operating below the line we are being a victim.
On the contrary, when operating from above the line we are the victor and we are in control. Our responses will be 'I will', 'I can' and 'I must'. An above the line response comes from a place of courage.
The BED responses will be something like this:
- Blame: 'I can't do planning work with clients because my team is unable to pick up the slack.'
- Excuse: 'I can't offer this to my clients right now as I'm too busy doing more important work like their tax returns.'
- Denial: 'My clients clearly don't need this service, if they did they'd be asking for it.'
The OAR responses will be like this:
The OAR responses would be more like this:
- Ownership: 'Even though I'm tapped out at the moment, I must find a way to help my clients with planning so they can get what they want from their businesses.'
- Accountability: 'I owe it to my clients to help them with planning.'
- Responsibility: 'I must work with my clients to help them to grow because they have put their trust in me to lead them through these difficult economic times.'
It's easy to stay in BED; the powerful response is to start paddling with your OAR. As they say; no pain, no gain - for you or your clients.