Admit mistakes and take responsibility | Rich Elfers

Do you know people who stay in the same rut their whole lives? They never change; in fact, as they age they seem to get worse. If you listen to them speak, their mantra is always that someone else was to blame for failures – the government, their political opponent, their spouse, their children’s teachers, the boss, God, whoever.

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  • Thursday, February 4, 2016 2:01pm
  • Opinion

Do you know people who stay in the same rut their whole lives? They never change; in fact, as they age they seem to get worse. If you listen to them speak, their mantra is always that someone else was to blame for failures the government, their political opponent, their spouse, their children’s teachers, the boss, God, whoever.

That’s why I find Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson so refreshing. After the Seahawks 10-9 victory against the Vikings, Wilson took responsibility for how poorly the game was played while at the same time praising his teammates for the great job they had done.

Russell Wilson continues to grow as a quarterback because he takes responsibility for his own, and sometimes others’, mistakes. That is the key to being able to mature in any endeavor. People who blame others, and that’s most of us at times, miss the opportunity to grow. Admitting our mistakes and then working to change our attitude and our actions is the basis for positive change.

Blaming others and shifting the burden to others is normal human behavior. Denying reality is a part of this blame game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t bring us the results we would like to see. In most instances when there is a failure or mistake, someone or some group is fingered as the guilty party: Muslims, immigrants or the media.

I’ve made some major mistakes in my life. Part of the problem I had to face about myself was that I either totally blamed myself or I totally blamed others. I eventually came to understand that this was black-and-white thinking. Eventually I matured in my thinking to realize that while I may not have been the total cause of the failure, I was still partly at fault. Being able to accept 30, 40, or 50 percent of the responsibility was easier for me to bear than to take on all of it. It also enabled me to make needed changes in the direction I was going.

The point is that making oneself responsible for our actions allows us to see others and ourselves more realistically. Refusing to shoulder the guilt is to avoid facing our own humanity. We’re all flawed creatures who constantly make errors in our judgments and decisions. Sometimes that failure may not show up for a lifetime. Then we look back to see that the decision we made years ago has now come back to bite us in our old age.

Had we considered the possibility we may have been wrong, we could have avoided greater damage as that decision continued to create its victims as time progressed.

The Enumclaw School Board and the district administration has admitted they made a $3 million miscalculation in the cost of remodeling the high school. As a result, neither the gymnasium nor the auditorium will be part of the $68 million renovation.

I must compliment the board and the superintendent for admitting the calculation error. Often major mistakes are swept under the rug to reveal themselves a decade or two later. It takes courage and integrity to admit error. Passing blame only diverts attention from the greater challenge how do we fix it?

The district leaders have a big challenge in front of them. It takes courage to figure out ways to change direction based upon the new realities. They need to follow the example set by Russell Wilson. They’ve done the first part. They’ve admitted error.

Now they are able to figure out ways to work around the mistaken ideas and thinking that created failure in the first place.

None of us want to be the kind of people we all know and see around us who continually blame others for their own failures and who get caught in a rut for a lifetime. Taking responsibility for our part in our failures is the route to growth. The attitudes we choose to hold will determine our life’s trajectory.

Russell Wilson is continuing to grow as the Seahawks quarterback because he is humble; he maturely takes his part of the blame for the team’s defeats. We too, when we fail, and we all do, should follow his wonderful example.

 

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