Friday, May 25, 2012

The Snake Made Me Do It!

“The woman made me do it,” Adam whined.

“The snake made me do it,” Eve cried.

It is safe to say that it’s human nature to look for people or things to blame when we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations of our own creation—especially when the results are potentially catastrophic.

Whenever I left the house in just enough time to make it to work within my grace period, I would immediately blame the traffic if I saw that I wouldn’t make it on time. In my daily frustration, I finally started to look inward. I realized that the true cause of my tardiness was rarely traffic. In fact, more often than not, the only reason I ran into traffic was because I hadn’t left home early enough in the first place. What could I do to rectify the problem? Take responsibility. Wake up earlier. Prepare the night before. Make a habit of leaving the house no later than 6:25. The results are noteworthy.

A few weeks ago my daughter had a soccer game. I told her to be sure to find out the location of the game before she left school on Friday. In the car on Saturday morning I asked her whether she had the address. “I left it in the house,” she replied. I asked her whether it was at the same place it was last time and she said yes. I sat for a few seconds and determined that she didn’t need to go back to get the address since I knew exactly where we were going. I hopped on the freeway and headed to the school in Tarzana.

As soon as we arrive it was clear that we were at the wrong place. What happened?

She informed me that she meant the school we were at the time before last…the one 25 minutes in the opposite direction.

I was disappointed by the situation, but I wasn’t upset at all. In this case we each could have blamed each other for something or another, but we did not. I immediately asked myself what I could have done differently and shared what I came up with Amari. I could have made sure we had the address before we walked out of the house. I could have given her a chance to go back inside and get the address. I could have asked her based off landmarks what the school looked like and what game she played the last time we went. I could have even googled the school before we got on the road (since we were certain of its name).

I asked her to tell me what she could have done differently. She responded that she could have remembered to bring the paper or she could have given it to me the day before or she could have asked me to allow her to go back inside to get it.

I told her that when something like this happens we should always look at ourselves first and ask what role we played in our current circumstances. It is best practice to take responsibility for our actions and the situations we create for ourselves as a result of our actions.

I meet too many adults who say that they never pursued their goals because their parents didn’t believe in them or they didn’t finish school because they had a baby or they were late to work because the traffic was horrendous. Perhaps these things are true, but they don’t have to keep you where you are (if you don’t like where you are). Your past is no excuse for mediocrity in your present. Stop blaming and change your circumstances today. Take responsibility today.

I saw a quote on a marquee near my job that I really like. It said: “Don’t complain. Don’t explain. Just get it done.”