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Editor Tip #24: When something is your fault, fix it

I think this is a tough one for people. It used to be a really tough one for me. I remember my first few years teaching there were problems with editors ‘getting it.’ My first year at North the majority of my editors were not living up to my expectations. They weren’t being the types of editors I thought they should be in terms of leading the room. I chalked it off though as a transition year with people on staff that weren’t chosen by me.

My second year, it was actually much of the same. While the editors were a little better — and while I had a few really good ones, the majority still weren’t grasping what it took to really run the room and take it over. I still was the driving force in the room. I chalked it off as ‘just one of those classes.’ You’ve all heard that before. “Oh, they are a bad class.” “That class is lazy.” “That class you will have trouble with.” Well, I just chalked it off to that class of editors that year and moved on. (Do you all do that with teachers sometimes?)

The third year I found myself again saying much of the same with that batch of editors…then it hit me.

Too often, people look to others to blame when things aren’t going well instead of looking inwards. There’s always someone else to blame. Always someone else to pass things off on. Always someone else who dropped the ball.

Some people go their whole lives blaming others for things. A few fortunate ones finally get a wake up call and look to themselves for the change that needs to take place. That’s what I did.

By stepping back and taking an objective look at things, I realized it wasn’t necessarily the editors that were at fault, rather it was my fault. I wasn’t teaching them what I was expecting out of them, or giving them the tools to succeed. I wasn’t telling them to ask questions when they needed to. And I wasn’t putting them all in positions to make the room run the best it could. It was my fault and from that day on I stopped blaming them and worked to fix things. Actually, these editor tips started as a result of that realization and they are just one of many things I do to give you all the tools you need to succeed.

While it’s not easy for any of us to say we messed up, sometimes we need to in order to move forward to get where we want to go. Often, we need to look inside for change, rather than outside.

That’s part of the process.

  1. Realize something’s wrong.
  2. Figure out what you can do to fix it.
  3. Fix it.

Now, when I have realizations like this, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the problem was and what I can do to fix it. Whether it was my editor training 7 years ago or my planning errors last year, I put things in place to fix my side of things. As a result, I expect things to change and get fixed. If they don’t, I start looking to others not holding up their end of the deal because I think I’ve given you all the tools I can.

So, how have your first few days gone? What is your fault that you need to fix? What is someone else’s fault? (Is it really their fault or are you just looking for a scapegoat?)

Evaluate yourself often. Pat yourself on the back when you do well. Work to correct things when you don’t. Don’t spend all your time blaming others when you can do something about the problem.

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