Learn personal responsibility: 7 sentences that ruin your success!

Not all projects run smoothly. This is also confirmed by the so-called CHAOS report of the Standish Group. Here the success rate of IT projects was measured. According to the report, only 32% of the projects were completed successfully. All other projects ran extremely problematic or failed. The reasons for the failure of projects can be manifold. It is important for one’s own success to learn from mistakes after a project has failed. This is not done by making excuses, but by taking personal responsibility. One of my most important principles for success is therefore: If a project in which I was involved fails, I never blame the others, but only myself.

Personal responsibility vs. excuses

Admittedly, the success principle did not originally come from me. I got it from Paul Arden, a very successful Executive Creative Director of the agency Saatchi & Saatchi. In his book “It doesn’t matter who you are, but who you want to be*” he shows seven popular excuses for failure in this context:

  1. The briefing was bad.
  2. I need a better partner.
  3. The budget was too small for proper implementation.
  4. The boss didn’t listen to me.
  5. I had so many other projects.
  6. I didn’t have enough time.
  7. The best ideas had been flattened by the customer.

Why do excuses limit your own success?

The fact is. As a freelancer you will always have to struggle with such problems. If you fail, it is relatively easy to find someone else to blame and you can quickly put the failed project to rest. However, this behaviour does not lead to self-reflection. We do not learn what we have to pay attention to in future projects.

More personal responsibility = more success

It is much more constructive for our success as freelancers to take full responsibility. Instead of looking for excuses I try to find more constructive sentences or questions after a failed project.

  • What can I do to use the financial and time budget more efficiently in the future?
  • How can I improve my communication so that customers and project partners understand me better?
  • How can I organise my time management in order to devote the necessary attention to all ongoing projects?


I see personal responsibility as an important key to success. Only by taking personal responsibility will we learn to master challenging projects better in the future.

The price of greatness is responsibility.

Winston Churchill

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