Above and below the line behaviour is a shorthand way of describing how you relate to the world and respond to problems, mistakes and disappointments.
Below the line people react to problems by denying them completely, blaming others for them, or making excuses. Here’s an example. You’re sitting at home after a hard day’s work, feet up, relaxing. From the kitchen, you hear a crash. You call out ‘What happened’ and the response is: ‘Nothing!’ That’s denial.
You persist. ‘I heard a crash; what was it?’ If two people are in the kitchen, you might hear ‘Mary did it!’ That’s blame. Or you might hear ‘Awwww, it wasn’t my fault; the milk carton was wet and it slipped.’ That’s an excuse. All below the line responses.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear ‘I dropped the milk carton; I’m just getting the mop to clean up the mess.’ That’s an above the line response. That’s taking responsibility.
A lot of children never learn to let go of below the line behaviour and carry it with them right into adulthood. They don’t stump up to their mistakes. They don’t face stumbling blocks and set-backs and fix them. They refuse to accept problems. Instead of taking responsibility, they deny, lay blame or make excuses. They never learn and they never grow.
Much better to give up the ‘victim’ mentality, stop blaming others, and take responsibility. Taking responsibility for your own choices and their consequences is more likely to move you forward, towards your goals and towards learning life’s lessons.
Are you an above the line person or a below the line person? What about your team members? How can you help any below the line team members start accepting responsibility for their actions and their consequences?