Last week on Diary of a CEO there was a great interview with philosopher Alain de Botton. Referring to the high rates of despair and suicide amongst young people Alain asked us to reconsider the belief that we are solely responsible for our fates.
Going back a few centuries, humans didn’t take personal responsibility for failures of crops, health, businesses and so on, but used to think that Gods and fortunes - ‘the fates’ were responsible.
This world view allows for compassion. If people fail, it is simply bad luck and that person needs help and support - as ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’ .
Now, however, in our increasingly irreligious and individualistic Western societies, we take personal responsibility for our failures and by default hold others responsible for theirs. This makes for a harsh inner reality when things do go wrong.
Rather than thinking ‘well that’s just bad luck’, people facing failure conclude that ‘its me, I’m just not good enough’ and it is these feelings of not measuring up to performance standards that can push people into depression and towards suicide.
This is especially acute if you are a business owner. We pride ourselves on taking responsibility for everything that happens, good and bad. The mantra of the Entrepreneurs Circle for example is ‘Its all Your Fault’.
In fact great deal of what happens to you in business is just luck. Its about being in the right place at the right time vs the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of it is outside your control.
So if things aren’t going well for your business right now - and this is a reality for many as we move into 2024 -remember, it really isn’t your fault at all. You are doing your best. Be kind to yourself and to others in similar situations. Compassion is the new Tough Love.