Taking credit is easy. It usually means you are patting yourself on the back for something you did or helped do that went well, or that went the way you desired.
In annual reviews, in résumés or on college applications, it’s a great idea to take credit for the ways you contributed, led or facilitated positive outcomes. It’s a way of sharing your potential for future successes with other colleagues, co-workers, bosses or schools.
It’s a fine line because taking credit for, say, the weather on the day of a picnic seems inappropriate and far fetched; or taking credit for something for which your primary role was to cheer for a particular outcome also seems inaccurate.
The other side of the credit coin is accepting responsibility for mistakes or results that fell short of your expectations or hopes.
I read that President-elect Donald Trump has congratulated himself on consumer confidence and the stock market surge since the election.
His election could be a contributing factor in the optimism of consumers or in the personified mind of the stock market.
I wonder, though, when life for Americans doesn’t go the way we would all like, will he also accept responsibility? Will the man who will be the leader of the free world be able to see his role in problems, learn from mistakes and show the kind of flexibility that other world leaders will consider inspiring or redemptive?
When things don’t go the way he or we the people might like, he has blamed others. His favorite target, and a favorite villain for many presidents over the years, has been the media. It’s an easy target because someone can always disagree with the facts or can come up with an alternative theory for them.
I would encourage the man who is so comfortable patting himself on the back — and who seems to be surrounding himself with people who are so supportive of him — to learn to look in the mirror and grow with this enormous job.
Learning isn’t easy or necessarily natural. That’s especially true when you’re confident you know more than anyone else, even intelligence officials, and when you rely on your business or street smarts to win every battle.
Maybe it’s especially challenging for him to accept that he needs educating as a president, in a job which requires him to be decisive and consistent.
At the same time, the president-elect has this opportunity to be a role model in the way he grows with the job.
I wonder, though, how he would deal with a leader with the same personality, self-confidence and strong will that he showed throughout the election cycle. Would he be able to adjust to the way someone else used his own playbook? Perhaps we have already seen glimpses of that, in the way he admires Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, with whom he seems to be sharing a daily global spotlight.
People on both sides of the political aisle probably agree that Trump is a character. It would be a wonderful moment if they all recognized at some point that he also had the kind of character that inspired others to learn, grow and compete against the best in the world.
Instead of recognizing and highlighting other people’s shortcomings, failures or deficiencies, Trump might also take a moment to see ways he himself can improve. If he shares his learning curve, he might provide a new route for others to do their best.