One does not have to look far to hear senior executives in corporations lay blame at the feet of external, unforeseen, or uncontrollable factors to account for the business performing poorly or for critical failures. Often, if not always, there is evidence to support their claims. The leaders surrounding them, their peers, business analysts, and industry experts may all agree with them.

Since we often have limited ability to change our external circumstances, these types of interpretations could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. When people in an organization hear senior leadership laying blame outside their control, it may very well disempower those employees. The people in the organization may, and likely will, agree to such assessments. The mindset, “it’s out of our control,” is understandable and reasonable.

The impact of trafficking in these conversations that blame company performance on external factors is often hidden from view. It may lead to a fixed mindset and put a lid on performance by stifling creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. So, what is there to do when your organization faces barriers or crises?

A good place to start is to intentionally create an organizational culture where the obstacles are treated as part of the game of business. It’s not “if” we’ll run into barriers, but rather “when.” A good question to ask yourself and your people is, “What would it look like for us to have a mindset of being unstoppable in the face of any circumstances?” Then, start looking for the levers and dials that will start creating this environment.

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