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“I Dropped the Ball”

Written by Gino Wickman on December 6, 2011

Implementers EOS Team

Imagine a world where everyone takes responsibility for their actions. Okay, maybe we can’t accomplish this in the entire world, but you can in your company. Why not start there? You should be able to call each other out when necessary, so why don’t you? What’s wrong with saying, “You dropped the ball?” How refreshing would it be? Or even better, someone says, “I dropped the ball” before you have to.

I’m not a psychologist. I really don’t know why there is so much resistance. In sessions, early in the process, I observe defensiveness when this level of accountability is practiced. When someone forgot something, made a mistake, or was wrong, they should simply say, “I dropped the ball. I’m sorry. I will take care of it by doing the following….”

I’ve seen enough strong teams to know this is possible and extremely productive. If your team isn’t there and you want to be, you have to start somewhere. My experience with a team embarking on this journey is that it starts with doing it. Yes, it gets uncomfortable at first, but when everyone is willing to be held accountable and, even better, hold themselves accountable, you become more effective. When you’re willing to admit you forgot something, made a mistake, or were wrong, this is being 100 percent authentic. You’re human. You make mistakes. We all do. This then cuts through the politics, positioning, and excuses. This also requires your team to possess the maturity to not say, “I told you so” or “gotcha.”

Obviously, if the ball gets dropped too many times, then that person may not be the right person for the job, but why keep it a secret? The inevitable is going to happen anyway.

To get started and break the seal, I suggest you make the first move. It begins with the words “I dropped the ball.” As Dan Sullivan says, “All progress begins with telling the truth.” It also wouldn’t hurt to have your team read this blog.


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