I love television. I’m fully aware that it robs your brain of the capacity to think when you watch drivel…BUT…I love it. My all time favourite television show is a show that got cancelled 13 episodes into its first season; a sci-fi space drama called Defying Gravity, which was pitched as “Grey’s Anatomy in Space”…which it wasn’t. But my wife does NOT like the infinite abyss of space and so our go-to show when we’re watching together was the sitcom, How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM).

But recently, on our third full watch through, I started to really question the show. On an intellectual and emotional basis, which I would strongly recommend you not do with a sitcom. I started to really learn to hate the writers of the show for what I felt were really weak female love interests; women who were given over-exaggerated flaws in order to make them unacceptable to our “hero”, Ted Mosby.

But then I realized that it’s very much about perspective and my mind was blown. I realized that the story itself is told by Ted Mosby, a man looking for love in (presumably) all the wrong places…except that he keeps FINDING love in what appeared to be the totally right places. However these women, after a period of time, would all turn out to be cruel, dishonest, selfish, and so on and so on. Ted would move on (very slowly) in a seemingly never ending quest for the perfect woman which, if the writers were to be believed, did not exist.

But then I began to realize that what I was seeing in these women was not the writer’s disinterest in writing strong roles for women but rather I was seeing Ted Mosby’s internal struggle with relationships. As I watched (and as my friend Phil explained to me) I began to realize that Ted was creating these flaws because if he could insinuate that there was something wrong with them then there was nothing wrong with him. And there was, and is, a lot wrong with him. Plenty.

This is not a sitcom thing. When is the last time that you held a differing opinion than someone else and then decided, “oh, you’re right…I don’t know what I was talking about.” We don’t typically do this. We’re wired to protect our own ego. This extends past relationships and into our day-to-day dealings with just about everyone around us. Business dealings are merely relationships with a slightly different (probably) end goal. They’re about people or groups of people coming together to build something greater than themselves. Personally, I want every client to come away from our relationship believing that I care about them, their business and their well-being. I might not end up being friends with all of my clients, but I expect us to have a positive relationship.

But when things go south, like most people, I Ted Mosby it.

“That’s not my fault.”

“They were being ridiculous.”

“Their demands were totally unreasonable.”

I’ve yet to see a business relationship go “bad” without this reaction. Our very first reaction is to find someone to blame. But I’m going to propose a very different way of doing things.

Start looking inwards.

I try my best to start every debrief with a very honest and unrelenting personal reflection. It always starts with, “could I have done better and if so, how.”

Once I’ve worked through all the insecurities and expectations that I brought to the table, only then can I begin to judge the actions or reaction of the other party.

I’m hoping that this newfound focus on personal responsibility will help improve these relationships…but it’s hard to silence your inner Mosby.