The structure collapsed
We stared in disbelief
Who exited last?
What time did you leave?
The foundation was sound
I checked it myself
It came to the ground
Thanks to someone else
It must be rebuilt
No matter the trouble
Absolved of my guilt
I walk to the rubble
I kneel at the scraps
And look close at the wreckage
I realize that the facts
Were not what I expected
I look back at my friends
This will hurt them the same
It starts to make sense
We share these burdened remains


Own your mistakes.

Don’t shamefully and reluctantly own up to your mistakes, step up and actually own them. There’s a misconception that it is somehow degrading to admit an imperfection. That it is more desirable to find blame in someone else and search for a way to justify your actions, no matter how erroneous they might have been. True confidence comes from being able to honestly reveal your own faults, not desperately try to conceal them.

Imagine every decision being made with a fear of failure. No risks would be taken, no ownership would be pursued, no sense of discovery would be had. Any creative environment must be safe to fail in. Good ideas should be scavenged from bad ones. Those good ideas would never have manifested if the bad ones weren’t tried out. Successes bring temporary solace, but failures teach powerful lessons that shape your mindset. Failure shouldn’t be feared, it should be embraced.

The use of the word failure above is describing something turning out worse than you expected or intended. You’re never going to “blame” someone for a result that you wanted, you might even gratuitously take credit for it. Your reaction to a negative outcome, however, is much more telling. If you choose to ignore the lesson from a negative situation, you’ve truly failed. If you choose to pawn off responsibility when it really should be yours, you’ve truly failed. If you choose to complain because something didn’t go your way, you’ve truly failed. You may not be able to control an outcome, but you absolutely can control your reaction to it.

If you are in a position of supervision, taking responsibility for the actions of those you supervise goes a long way. If someone feels they are not only being blamed, but they are being blamed by someone who is supposed to have an understanding of what they are doing, it can be demoralizing and frustrating. Blame that is blind to your own responsibility is the worst kind.

Outside of fleeting results that are undesired, there is a notion of chronically being in a situation you don’t want to be in. As it seems to progress to a point of no return, and you feel helpless in changing it, it is natural to try to find blame in everything about it but yourself. It is easier to accept that the odds are stacked against you and that change is out of your control. Introspection in this case, truly figuring out what is within your control and what you’re unnecessarily allowing to take control of you, will provide a path to breaking the cycle. The only thing standing in the way is yourself.


Situational Questions

  • If someone suggests that you’ve done something wrong (even if in a presumptuous way), is your immediate reaction to find fault with someone else? How would your stress change if you took the time to investigate whether you made a mistake or not? If you are in error, do you try to conjure up justification for your actions?
  • Do you stand to lose a great amount by taking responsibility for failure? Is your reaction to such hardship to impose punishment on yourself to set an example for others? Or do you take measures in the first place to be shielded from the consequences of your actions?


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