The Wizard of Oz thrilled audiences in movie theaters when it was released in 1939, and because it has been replayed for decades on television, it has never wandered far from our imaginations. It was based on L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was written in 1899. And according to the authors of The Oz Principle, this 19th century story offers us lessons about accountability in the 21st century.
In the book, authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman challenge readers to take a journey to a mythical land. No, not the Land of Oz, but one that may seem just as distant and difficult to find – the land of accountability. In fact, the subtitle of their book is Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability.
The lead characters in Baum’s story take a journey to find a wizard who they hope will solve their problems. Dorothy wants to go home. The Scarecrow wants a brain. The Tin Man wants a heart. The Lion wants courage. They believe the great and powerful Oz can give them what they want. As you know, the wizard turns out to be just as lost as Dorothy. He was unintentionally exiled from earth while flying a hot air balloon at a Kansas fair. Imagine the disappointment when Dorothy and her fellow travelers discover the wizard can’t grant them their wishes.
“Unfortunately,” write the authors, “even the most ardent admirers of the story often fail to learn its simple lessons: Don’t get stuck on the yellow brick road; don’t blame others for your circumstances; don’t wait for wizards to wave their magic wands and never expect all of your problems to disappear. In today’s complex environment, the temptation to feel and act like victims has become so pervasive that it has created a very real crisis.”
Like Dorothy said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Instead we find ourselves in the Land of Victimhood. It has to be someone else’s fault – the government, the manufacturer, your boss, your employee, your coworker, your parents, etc. We want to blame someone else and want someone else to fix it. We have been conditioned, in the Land of Victimhood, to believe a wicked witch holds us under a spell which renders us powerless. This is known as “learned helplessness.”
Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion already possessed what each was seeking. The great and powerful Oz turned out to be more of a consultant than a wizard – he simply showed them they already possessed the attributes they desired. It’s like the Good Witch told Dorothy – she could have gone home anytime, but she had to discover that for herself.
And so do we. Like the characters in The Wizard of Oz, we fail to understand the power we possess. We have been given the great and powerful gift of free will. We have the power of choice. If we don’t like the results we’re getting then we need to understand that it’s a result of our choices. If something goes wrong we need to stop asking, “Who’s to blame?” and start asking, “What do I need to do to fix it?” Consider the steps to accountability in The Oz Principle: See it, own it, solve it and do it.
You already possess everything you need for your journey on the yellow brick road – a heart, a brain and courage – but if you don’t use it, you lose it. And if you take a wrong turn, don’t blame a wicked witch or expect a wizard to show up with a GPS. Instead, close your eyes, click your heels together three times and tell yourself what you need to do. When you open your eyes you’ll find yourself on the road to accountability.