The other day my colleague and I were talking about a person in our company who we felt was receiving preferred treatment. While I agreed with the notion, it felt uncomfortable to talk about that person in such a way. Not only because that person is a friend of mine, but also because I didn't like the victim perspective we were assuming in that moment. So I asked my colleague: "Do we really want to be like those people who are frustrated and talk behind another person's back?". We both agreed that we didn't.
It was a simple question, but it made me think. Most importantly though, it reminded me of a Leadership Training I went to in Sydney last year as part of which we learned about the "Player vs. Victim" dogma. In summary, the Player/Victim principle is about how you respond to the circumstances in your life. When running late to a meeting, most people know how to blame external factors ("my previous meeting went over" .... "I was stuck in traffic") as opposed to take responsibility for their actions ("my previous meeting went over and I decided to stay" ... "I underestimated the traffic but should have known better").
The concept here is fairly simple. As a player, you take responsibility for the situations you are in. As the word responsibility already indicates, you have "response ability". You pay attention to the factors that you can influence and you do your best to affect the results. In moments of failure, the Player perspective is the only one that will allow you to learn from your mistakes and to become better. Why? Because you take responsibility for the outcome and don't blame the circumstances of your life. It's a self-empowering perspective that can get you far – very far – in both work and life... especially in life.
The Victim might say that a situation is hopeless. The Player will look at it and say he hasn't found a solution yet. The Victim will think himself that someone should take the first step, the Player is determined to pioneer ahead. The Victim will complain that he doesn't have time for a certain thing. The Player will admit that he has different priorities. The Victim will say he has to leave. The Player makes clear he wants to leave.
You will come across so many situations in your life when things will just not go according to plan... From the sales quota that you won't hit to your dream business school that will reject you. From the promotion that you won't get to the beautiful date that won't work out. All these things happen but it will be up to you to decide how you deal with them.
Do you want to be the person who turns sour and depressed? Do you want to be the person who will blame the situation and claim that life is so unfair? When people ask you how you are doing, will you say "I'm ok" and subtly want them to ask what's going on so they can pity you?
... OR do you want to be the person who comes out of the situation stronger and wiser? The person who will look back and say "it didn't work the way I wanted but that's ok because life has better things planned for me!".
"Life never goes according to plan. That's okay, because often our plans are much smaller than life intends. Probably EASIER, but smaller" — Stacey T. Hunt
So the next time you lose a deal, will you blame the customer or will you look at your own behavior and see where and when you could have effected a different outcome? The next time you get rejected by someone or something, do you dwell in despair or do you decide to that this is the beginning of something much better to come?
Be the Player. The decision is yours.