What I want to talk about today is something that’s had a huge affect on my life, and has a big impact on my client’s lives, especially on their teams that they have in their businesses. It’s all about an above or below the line attitude.

I’ll bet you’ve come across this before, but basically above the line, is all about ownership, acceptance, and responsibility; and below the line, is blame, excuses, and denial. It comes down to where is your response? Where does your attitude lay? Is it an above the line or below the line response?

Now the most important one above the line for me is responsibility. By accepting responsibility for everything, it means that you are able to respond.

This is a very powerful position. It means that we can do something about it. Whenever we’re blaming other people, making excuses, or denying that it’s happening, it keeps us out of power. It makes us a victim. It means that we can do nothing about it. And while it’s nice to think that you’ve an above the line kind of guy or kind of girl, very often it’s easy to creep below the line.


Let me give you a couple of examples: I was working with a client recently and they were trying to make some sales. When I was speaking to him he says, “You know what, the clients, they’re just not getting back to me. I’m not making the sales because they’re not getting back to me.”

Now straightaway I could say, “Listen, is that an above the line or below the line response? Well it’s below the line because you’re blaming the customer;” ‘They’ve not gotten back to me.’

Let’s take it above the line. Taking the same response, above the line is, “I’ve not gotten back to them.”

Now as soon as you say, “I’ve not gotten back to them,” it puts you in a position of control because that means that you can get back to them; you can do something about it. The same guy I was talking to me and he says, “Yeah, I have not made as many sales because the customers just can’t buy; they couldn’t afford it.”

Yeah, take it above the line again. Listen; taking it above the line means how can you help them to afford it? How can you help them to purchase your product? What finance deals can you put in place? As soon as you accept responsibility for everything that’s happening, it means that you are able to do something about it.

Listen, nothing is happening to you. Everything is happening because of you, and as soon as you accept that one fact, it means that you can start taking control of your life and taking control of everything that is happening to you.

James Ashford

James Ashford

James is the Founder of GoProposal, Director of MAP., Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author of "Selling to Serve". He helps accountants and bookkeepers around the world to price more profitably, sell more confidently and to give significantly more value to their clients.