One of the less attractive features about living in this part of the world is the tendency to deflect blame. It’s always someone – or something – else’s fault.

People have become quite adept to putting misfortunate events down to karma (an easy option) or finding a scapegoat (not always possible, or believable).

This could be in any setting, from a work situation to social or at home with partners and loved ones. But let’s concentrate on work.

All of us take a myriad decisions every day. Some are big, some small, but decisions they are nevertheless. Is it any surprise if some of them don’t turn out as well as they should?

And if and when a decision turns out to be the wrong one, so many people automatically tend to put the blame elsewhere.

It’s a default position – not a very attractive trait, and one that most of us would be well advised to stay away from.  Blaming others, rather than holding up a mirror and owning the mistake, is so easy to do.  And what continues to surprise me – after all these years – is that other people accept that as an excuse.

As if my poor decision is anyone else’s fault. Really?

A few years ago I was going through a difficult period and, although he couldn’t possibly have known it at that time, a friend helped me out by giving me a book to read.

It was one of those spiritual type books (not religious) and the sentence that had the most impact on me was: “We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change how we react”.

That hit me like a sledgehammer. I had been so angry about a lot of things, things I couldn’t change and there it was in one sentence: Let it go.

To say it changed my life is probably overstating it, but it certainly has given me pause for thought over the years since then.

I couldn’t possibly claim that I am the mellowest individual on the planet, yet I do feel a lot calmer in situations that once would have had me crawling across the ceiling.

Not blaming others is essential to a happy life.  Accepting responsibility for our own actions is critical if we’re going to grow – in life and love, in work, in everything – and be as well-adjusted as we can.

Take ownership: It isn’t the waiter’s fault, or the client’s fault, or your spouse’s fault, or your children’s fault, or the car’s fault.

Somewhere along the line it’s down to us. The things we did – or didn’t do – have brought us to where we are today.

And now we have to deal with it. Each of us, in our own way. But don’t blame the others!

As usual, let me know if you have any particular topic you would like to see covered here.

Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.  He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via