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The Maddening Unwillingness To Accept Personal Responsibility

Over this last week, I counted dozens of news stories that boiled down to 3 things:  blame, blame, blame.  

No, it’s not new — been going on since the beginning of time — but still, it’s sickening.  And it feels like blame has reached epic proportions in our society.  

Employees blame their bosses for unfair treatment… bosses blame employees for poor results.  Kids blame teachers for their bad grades… teachers blame the kids for not trying hard enough.  Coaches blame athletes for on-field mistakes and lack of effort.  Athletes blame coaches for mismanaging and not enough playing time.  Patrons blame business owners.  Patients blame doctors.  Baseball players argue with an umpire over a single ‘bad call’, then later blame him for the game loss.  Politicians blame each other for everything, including presidents who all blame the last guy for the mess we’re in.  

What’s become of us?  Has acceptance of personal responsibility been thrown out the window?  Where’s the ownership for what goes wrong, for what’s not working, for mistakes?  

Where’s the willingness to say:  I messed up and I’m going to fix it… I’m going to take responsibility and apologize to those affected… no matter how humbling it is for me… I won’t try to spin it to my advantage… and I won’t blame anyone else but me… because it’s my doing.   

Where’s THAT guy?  Or THAT woman?  

In a 1995 article about Mahatma Gandhi, author Dr. Keshavan Nair wrote:  “H.G. Wells once asked for Gandhi’s views on a document Wells had co-authored entitled ‘Rights of Man.’  Gandhi did not agree with the document’s emphasis on rights.  He responded with a cable that said, ‘I suggest the right way.  Begin with a charter on Duties of Man and I promise the rights will follow as spring follows winter.’ “  

Bravo!  How perfectly on-point.  

I interpret Gandhi’s words as… quit squabbling about rights, which can be translated as “what the world owes me”… and instead, focus on duties, translated as “what I’m solely responsible for”.  

Actions For You:  

Yes, I acknowledge there are times when blaming another is justified, as are the accompanying consequences.  

But that said, as a leader, as an example setter, as someone others look to for guidance and integrity… be that person who accepts personal responsibility, who takes ownership of mistakes, who doesn’t first seek to save face, who doesn’t jump to blaming others.  

There’s a worldwide shortage of THAT person.  

Catch yourself the next time you feel the irresistible pull to blame another.    
Power Thought“Every man is the architect of his own life.  He builds it just the way he wants it.  However, after he has built what he wants, he sometimes decides he doesn’t like what he has built and looks for someone or something to blame instead of changing himself.”   Sydney Madwed. 

Want More? To learn about Rick Houcek’s full range of strategic planning retreats, goal setting workshops, keynote speaking, leadership training, and books/CDs on peak performance — specifically for entrepreneurs, CEOs, presidents, senior executives, managers, team leaders, and other high achievers — visit — or contact Rick Houcek at 770-391-9122 or

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