October 12, 2015

The Power of Personal Responsibility and Saying “My Bad” – Inspired by the Cardinals Losing Pitcher

It’s October, and here in St. Louis that means yet another year of post-season baseball and a drop in work productivity as much time and energy is expended talking about and watching our beloved Cardinals. I was amused reading an article in USAToday last week that the Cardinals have become the new Yankees and are now the most hated team in baseball. What can I say? Haters are gonna hate. I guess success creates hate and jealousy. I’ve lived here 23 years and this is the classiest and easiest to root for organization in all of sports. It’s easy to love this team.

My good friend, Peterman, took me to Game Two of the NLDS. Decked out in red, we passed through the gates of Baseball Heaven (Busch Stadium) and were excited to see lefty Jaime Garcia pitch against the Cubs. That excitement lasted until the second inning when the wheels came off the Cardinals’ bus. Garcia was awful — as in truly awful. He didn’t have his good stuff; he made a fielding error and it turns out he also was suffering from the aftermath of stomach flu-like symptoms. The Cardinals had a bad inning in the field including another error, and the Cubs put five runs on the board. The game was never close again. It was a miserable night at the ballpark except for enjoying the conversation with Peterman and a delicious Kosher dog with sautéed onions and brown mustard.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because late last night I was watching sports highlights on TV and there was a clip of Garcia being interviewed after the game. Garcia was quick to take the blame declaring, “It’s totally on me today. No excuse. My bad. I didn’t get it done.” The reporter asked about his stomach-flu. Garcia deflected the question again taking full responsibility for his poor performance. Then he was asked about the sloppy defense and errors and how that contributed to the bad inning. Again, Garcia didn’t take the bait or make excuses. He simply said that he had a job to do, he didn’t get it done, and must do better next time.

not my faultThere are a lot of salespeople, managers, and executives who could learn a thing or two from Jaime Garcia. How refreshing for someone to stand up take responsibility! Everyday I see salespeople, particularly underperforming salespeople, point the finger at everyone and everything but themselves. It’s as if their personal responsibility meters are broken. Losing deals and missing sales goals are never their fault. Nope. They are masters at assigning blame (to anything but themselves):  It’s the idiot buyer’s fault; he doesn’t get it. It’s our product feature set; we just can’t compete. It’s that stupid competitor. It’s Obama’s fault. It’s the US Congress’ fault. It’s the economy. It’s our operations team or the delivery schedule. It’s my parent’s fault. And so on…

Friends, I know you know this, but it’s worth reinforcing: Winners take responsibility for outcomes. Period.

This article from Mindtools reiterates what I’ve heard several performance experts and top executives declare. People who maintain an “Internal Locus of Control” believe that they are responsible for their own success. Those with an external locus of control believe that external forces and circumstances determine their outcomes. Not sure if you’ve ever worked for a slippery teflon boss who doesn’t take responsibility for anything, but I can tell you that is no fun at all. And one of the first things I look for when interviewing sales candidates is a strong internal locus of control and whether they blame others for lack of success in previous positions.

I’m not sure how the Cardinals will fare against Cubs ace Jake Arrieta on Monday, but I hope this post and Jaime Garcia’s “my bad” response inspires you to fully take responsibility for the results you produce! Consider this: If you did fully embrace an internal locus of control when it comes to your sales results, how might it affect the way you approach your job and the amount of effort you put into every potential sales opportunity?

**Quick Update on Sales Management. Simplified. – The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team. The book released earlier than expected, and it’s off to a flying start thanks to you! I’m incredibly appreciative of your help getting it to the #1 Best-Seller spot in Amazon’s Sales & Selling Management category last weekend. Thank you for all the notes, selfies with book, tweets, LinkedIn updates, and quick reviews on Amazon. Please spread the word. This book isn’t just for sales leaders and executives. It’s also for salespeople who aspire to sales management, or who want to know what great sales leadership and a healthy pro-sales culture look like. And a quick shout out to sales guru Jack Malcolm for this fun and profound post tying principles in the book to the Miami Dolphins situation!

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