A recent article on Time.com – originally published on Inc.com – entitled, “Be Happier in Business and Life: 10 Things To Stop Doing Right Now,” includes what its title implies, a list of 10 ways to be happier. One THING in particular caught my attention and not just because it was the first one.

It’s BLAMING. The article says you need to stop blaming.

It struck me that, in the many years I’ve been teaching, I’ve heard a thousand things blamed for a student’s lack of success, mostly from students themselves. In fact, some of the reasons for missing class, turning in poor work or no work or some variation on failure to handle responsibilities were so bizarre I’ll never forget them (and these are all true):

“I got arrested because my roommates were growing pot at our house.”
“I was trying to decide if I should marry my fiancee…and it took a lot of time.”
“My girlfriend cut up all my clothes and threw them away. I didn’t have anything to wear to class.”

Yes, these are really ridiculous examples, but I hear some version of “the dog ate my homework” or “I overslept” nearly every week. Mind you, I’m not asking for more creative excuses. And I don’t encourage students to look for someone or something to blame for not doing what they were supposed to.

I try to incorporate into my lectures, discussions and activities ways that students can become more responsible, meet those deadlines, show up on time and prepared for class, do the work to the best of their ability and not have to look for excuses at all. I want students to work at becoming better time managers and more attentive readers so they’ll get the papers submitted by the deadline and make good grades on their exams. (Contrary to popular belief, I don’t like giving bad grades; I want all my students to succeed.)

So students, stop playing the blame game and start taking more responsibility. As the article states:
“Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn’t masochistic, it’s empowering–because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time.”

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