It’s My Fault

EO

My husband graciously carries his laundry basket to the washer, but I beg him to let me do the work because I like to clean. Yeah, that’s right. I like to do laundry. A pile of clothes reminds me we live life fully, and washing and organizing make me feel productive.

Later I hear the clink-clinking of the dryer, and I purse my lips.

“Did you leave a jump drive in your pocket again? How many times have I told you…”

“I’m sorry,” my husband says. “It’s my fault.”

He’s always quick to apologize. I take a breath and clench my teeth, reminded that leaving chapstick and quarters in the pockets of his Levi’s is just something he does. If they’re in my dryer it isn’t anyone’s fault but my own.

Admitting my failures, taking ownership of things in which others play a role, and apologizing doesn’t feel natural. It makes me rotate my shoulders as if to move the little pride monkey off my back. But accepting responsibility for small stuff keeps my emotions in check, which empowers me to adapt. I’d rather not waste time blaming others, and, in turn, stall productivity. Blaming others is one reason bullying wrecked my adolescence. I focused more on my bullies’ words and actions and less on my circumstances being temporary and controlling my reactions. Living in the moment is a habit I’ve carried into adulthood. It can be a gift and a crutch. If I get absorbed in the details of now and fail to see the bigger picture ahead, the results I desire, it’s easy for me to blame other people, like a training client who doesn’t follow instructions. Over the years, I’ve realized it’s less likely that she’s disrespectful and uncoachable and more likely that she’s a visual learner. It’s my responsibility to take her to the mirror or film her to show her the mistake and help her improve. Other times, taking ownership isn’t about getting someone to do what I want as much as it is about freeing myself of controlling others and seeking peace.

Have you listened to your words lately? Are your frustrations doing anyone good? If it’s always someone else’s fault, chances are it’s your fault. People expect criticism and reprimand, and maybe they deserve a kick in the rear, but when we first take responsibility, others are more likely to consider self-improvement. We can pass the buck, which might work to some extent, but, sooner or later, we’ll end up with quarters clink-clinking in our dryers, reminding us to check our own pockets.

“We have to own everything in our world. That’s what Extreme Ownership is all about.” -Jocko Willink

What is one small thing for which you can practice taking ownership?

Recommended reading: Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Kids These Days

Kids

“I’m gonna miss practice. I have a hair appointment.”

My friend and I stared at each other in disbelief over her player’s text.

“Can you believe that?” said my friend who coaches high school girls.

“I can’t imagine telling my coach that,” I said. “I would’ve run laps for days.”

“And the thing is her mom is taking her.”

I empathized with my friend’s quandary. For 13 years, my husband and I have trained kids in sports performance. We’ve worked with parents who bring their child to us for two hours per week and expect us to kick little Billy’s butt so hard he sheds his baby weight two weeks before the season and magically gains fast feet and the stamina to pitch six games every weekend. Chances are little Billy will come to training having eaten a Toaster Strudel, cookies and fries for lunch and a cup of tomato soup after school. After his 10-minute warm-up, he’ll spend the remainder of workout bent over a waste basket. He leaves, and his parents will feed him a 1,500-calorie, high-fat, fast food dinner because it’s quick and convenient. We do our best to encourage Billy for the next few weeks, but when we talk to his parents about proper nutrition, they blame Billy and stop bringing him to workouts. It’s easy enough to find another trainer who will take their money without forcing them to examine how their decisions contribute to Billy’s performance.

On the flipside, I cannot count the times we have helped mom and/or dad lose weight through healthy eating yet when it comes to feeding their children, mom and dad settle for the same high-calorie, bad carbohydrate, high-fat foods they are eliminating. Why?

“We’re busy. It’s easier.”

“They’re picky.”

“They’re kids. It doesn’t affect them.”

Who is the adult? Who are the decision-makers? Kids eat foods and drink drinks adults purchase. Kids model our behaviors in every area of life. If we don’t show up for appointments, if we waste peoples’ time and consistently cancel at the last minute, when we don’t do what we don’t feel like doing, when we gossip, when our heads are buried in our phones, why would we expect kids to act any differently?

How is our lack of extreme ownership of disservice to kids? The next time you catch yourself saying, “Kids these days,” take a hard look at what you encourage them to get away with.