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  • Matthew Davies

Someone to Blame

2021, on reflection, wasn't perfect. There's no such thing as a perfect year, really. Most people just want to be able to look back and say that the good outweighed the bad, the gains outweighed the losses and the joy outweighed the sadness. But as we get granular on the individual moments that registered through the year and tipped the scales to the good or the bad, it offers us the opportunity to learn. In every success, and in every failure, there's a lesson, and it's in finding, learning from and applying these lessons, that we grow and progress.


In each of the moments where things didn't pan out the way we hope, we are gifted the opportunity to reflect and ask ourselves not not only what happened, and why it happened, but crucially, what was our part to play in it? Because when things go wrong in our lives, we are immediately split into one of two camps.


Firstly, there are the window people; those who, when presented with a situation that's not gone in their favour, immediately start looking out the window for someone to blame. It was his fault. It was her who caused that. Look what they did! And sometimes this can be cathartic and allow us to let off steam, but it doesn't help us grow. Because the actions of others fall well outside our control and when we put our energy into worrying about things that are outwith our control, it does us no good whatsoever and has links to mental health challenges like anxiety.


Secondly come the mirror people. When things haven't gone their way (or even better, when things aren't GOING their way, and there's still time to change the outcome), they look in the mirror. What have I done or am I doing, that's contributed to this? What can I do differently to change the outcome? Where can I be more effective? It's in the mirror that we have the chance to act, and the chance to change.


Jim Telfer, in the fly-on-the-wall documentary Living With Lions, which follows the 1997 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, gives a speech that's been used time and again in motivational and leadership training sessions, the world over. It's known as the Everest Speech, and it's been oft-used for good reason!! However, there's another speech he gives which is much less famous but, in my view, much more applicable to the work each of us do on ourselves every day. It's called The Honest Player and you can find it here. He is addressing the Forwards, frustrated at the excuses and the complaints and the inability or unwillingness to take on feedback. He implores them to be 'honest players' and to look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable. After laying out his case, he says:


"From now on, a page is turned. It's a new book. Different attitudes. We're honest with ourselves"


Right now, in the various aspects of your life, there will be situations which mirror situations you've been in before. Relationships which are on the slide. Projects that aren't going how you've hoped. Aspects of your physical and mental health that you're neglecting. Dreams you hold a little too loosely, and which go unfulfilled. And, just like before, there are many external factors that press upon these, and line up perfectly for you to stand at the windowsill, look out of the window and point the finger. Or you could do something different, and get a different outcome. Maybe it's time for you to turn the page.

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