Oct 25, 2009


I'm reading some great books by John Miller called "The QBQ" and "Flipping the Switch". They are a "must-read"!!

One of the topics they hit on is the concept of us taking ownership of lives and our actions. It's always easy to blame others for what happens to us. In fact, that's a big part of what is wrong with our society today. More and more we default to playing the role of the victim, crying "it's not our fault!" And, since it's never our fault, then it must be someone else fault, and therefore it becomes somebody else job to fix it.

This is nothing new for mankind. It's been our standard response since the beginning. Look at Genesis 3.  Eve made the choice to eat that which was not to be eaten. Adam made the choice to eat that which was not be eaten. Yes, the devil, in the form of the snake, made the suggestion to eat; but he didn't and couldn't make them eat. It was an act of their free will. It was a choice that they made.

When God confronted with their actions, they did exactly what we would do. They played the victim. They shifted blame. They refused to take ownership for their actions. Adam blamed Eve and blamed God for giving him Eve, Eve blamed the snake. They did everything but admit that they had made a mistake and take ownership of their actions.

I worked at a pizza joint when I first moved to Wasilla. We had this other delivery driver named Chris. I was never a big fan of Chris. He was cocky and arrogant. And we figured out later he was stealing from the cash register.

One night while he was out on delivery, a call came in complaining about a car with our pizza delivery sign on it driving too fast and too recklessly through their neighborhood. The description matched Chris' car and the neighborhood was the one his current delivery was in.

When Chris came in from the delivery, the manager told he'd received a complaint and that Chris needed to watch his speed. That was all he said. Chris wasn't in trouble, the manager didn't want an explanation, he just told him to watch his speed.

But, Chris' reaction was typical. It went like this: "It wasn't me. It must have been a car that just looked like mine. Everyone drives fast in that neighborhood. I bet my driving record is better than hers. I'm a good driver. She's just out to make trouble for me. It's not fair that you assumed it was me." He was getting louder and more agitated as he rambled on about all the reasons it wasn't him, or not his fault, or how the devil made him do it.

Finally the manager stopped him. He repeated that he was simply asking Chris to slow down. That was all.

That was 14 years ago, but I still remember thinking that all Chris had to do was say he was sorry and he'd watch he speed in the future. Instead he played the victim and tried to dodge taking ownership for his actions.

We need to take ownership for our actions. When we mess up, we need use one of the most powerful phrases in the English language: "I'm sorry." Then we need to do what we can to make it right. As long as we look for someone else to blame it on, we short circuit the growth that will come from taking ownership of our actions.

Failure and making mistakes is not always a bad thing. It's how we learn. Think about learning to ride a bike. What is the motivation to keeping your balance? For me, the motivation is that crashing hurts! But if I'm always protected from crashing, there's no driving reason to learn how to keep my balance.

What is the motivation to winning a race? It's because losing doesn't feel good. Who cares if I "did my best" and got a "participant" ribbon.

By not taking ownership of actions, and feeling the pain that can possibly come with that, we leave the training wheels on. We run at the back of the pack, coming in far below our possible potential. Yes, there's less pain and humiliation doing it that way, but there is no growth, no success, no accomplishment.

So maybe your parents were horrible, or you grew up in the wrong part of town, or you've been wronged by others. That's not an excuse for your current actions. Take ownership of them and move on to better things.

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