Finger pointing starts at an early age.

We’ve all done it. At one time or another, we’ve all laid blame for our mistakes or unacceptable actions on someone else.

“It’s not my fault.”

“She made me.”

“He told me it was okay.”

“I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

Children fear being punished, so when caught doing something wrong, it’s not uncommon for them to lie or point the finger at a sibling or friend.

It doesn’t stop after childhood. At times, adults also have difficulty being accountable. We don’t want to look bad in front of our peers or risk rejection, so we make excuses for bad judgment.

Corporation and government structures are made up of people, so lack of accountability is perpetuated in both environments. They deny, instead of acknowledging problems or issues that need to be addressed.

But, here’s the thing…

We’re so afraid of possible repercussions, that we don’t realize how freeing it is to be accountable.

Think about how much energy it takes to defend yourself – especially when you know you’re wrong. While on the flip side, people respect those who are willing to stand up and say, “I’m sorry. I blew it. I take responsibility.”

One night I was out for dinner with my family at a nice restaurant and part of our order got messed up. The waiter went into blaming mode and said derogatory things about the cook. My son-in-law stated that he would have respected the waiter if he’d just taken responsibility, apologized, and tried to make things right. But, watching him throw his co-worker under the bus resulted in the opposite. What my son-in-law said that night stuck with me.

The other day I was gently told by a supervisor that something I’d done was frowned upon by the company. It was truly minor and the supervisor didn't make a big deal out of it. Regardless, my defenses immediately went up and I wanted to explain that a co-worker – who had been there several years as opposed to my two months - initiated the action. Not me.

But, I stopped myself in time. I knew without a doubt the co-worker had not intended to do anything that could become even a slightest issue with management.

Instead of defending what I’d done, I simply said, “Thanks for letting me know.”

The result? The defensiveness melted away. I felt lighter. I felt free.

If you screw up with your kids, your spouse, friends, or co-workers…be accountable. Own up to your mistakes, apologize, and try to make it right.

You’ll be doing yourself a favor…


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