Enlightened Conflict

that tempt you to believe your critics

April 30th, 2017

criticized no matter



“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.

There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.


Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”



Ralph Waldo Emerson






Several people have asked if I will ever lighten up on President Trump.


oh my god cover mouth silence do not speakWell.


Here’s the deal.


Yes. I am a harsh critic of Donald J Trump.


However … almost all my criticism & critique is done from a business perspective and not a personal perspective.


I do not know the man so commenting on him personally would seem silly.


But I do know business.


I do know some of the better senior business people.

I do know what good leadership and leading looks like.


I also know what business principles would be transferable to attempting to be a president <in a political system versus a “CEO” business system> and I know that I do not know shit about politics <but from afar I can see the maddening aspects and have no desire to work within the system>.


I do know that I am a harsh critic of myself … I am self-proclaimed perpetually dissatisfied business person.


I do know I am not a big self-promoter, tend to dislike extreme self-promoters and I value confidence … but quite confidence.


And that leads to my criticisms of Trump.

critical blame responsibility asshats credit

First and foremost Trump falls squarely in my criticism cross hairs. As the graph to the right indicates when someone is in the asshat space I will be harshly critical.


I would note that I assume everyone makes mistakes so if you view this chart as “emphasis of my criticism depending on where you fall on this chart” my level of criticism will naturally dial up based upon the behavior of the participant and not their actual actions <this can translate into some minor criticism even if something is done right and harsh criticism when a mistake is made>.




My second basis of criticism falls on progressive scale. The higher the responsibility the higher the expectations <of what you should know, how you should behave and what you actually do> and, ultimately, the higher the volume of criticism for less-than-appropriate behavior. Correspondingly, the lower the responsibility, the lower the expectation and … well … yeah … you get it … my level of criticism diminishes.


What does all of that mean?


I think we are all much more forgiving of someone who shows some humility and accepts responsibility and admits mistakes and is confident without being overbearing. And the more someone doesn’t show those characteristics the more likely our pendulum of criticism will swing toward … well … highly critical.




I heard someone say “Trump could enact a miracle and some people will criticize him.”

That is not true.

It approaches Trump criticism from the wrong perspective in that it ignores the context that HE creates. I would be happy to not criticize him and I even have edged into giving him some credit on occasion.

But I do so hesitantly.

And I think many others are hesitant for the same reason.


Just as he has a tendency to exaggerate … well … everything … he makes it say out loud oopsdifficult to compliment him. There is no counterbalance and our fear , at least mine, is that giving credit seems to take on an exponentially exaggerated level with him. And I seriously doubt that giving him credit will be thanked by offering up some humility or admitting some past mistakes.

Therefore, just as it is with the guy in your office who wants to take credit for shit he has never done and believes that people don’t give him enough credit in general or don’t recognize how smart/talented he is … they absorb credit and compliments as “it is about time” or “what took you so long to see what I have been telling you” rather than “thanks.”


These kinds of people are hard to give credit to. And, in fact, these kinds of people almost make us NOT want to give them credit for anything <and , if we do, it tends to be muted>.


Does that mean my criticism is too harsh? Shit. I don’t know.


I don’t think so.

Harsh, in my eyes, would be if he was actually a business guy who was implementing solid business principles and I ignored that and simply was harshly criticizing some of the ‘art’ aspects of business <and not the ‘science’ part>.


But Trump is implementing none of the ‘science.’ In addition, he is the Dolph Lundgren of the artistic portion of business. He has no ‘feel’ for business just one speed and one style and one way of doing things.


And that is the basis for my constant Trump critiques — he is failing to meet what I would consider the basic business leadership standards of … well … even a higher middle manager type leader in a larger organization.


To be clear.

I am careful about how I criticize anyone in any position. While Trump is most likely not familiar with Plato, Plato offers us some guidelines with regard to how to evaluate a business person beyond simple evaluation of what they do:



“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”







Behavior, business included, flows from these three things. It isn’t ‘good business instincts’ or ‘deal making skills’ or … well … any of the things Trump head-in-cloud-glasses-thinkflippantly tosses around with regard to what he believes <and he constantly suggests we all know this about him> is his incredible business skill.


And while I could take a stab at critiquing Donald J Trump on what his desire is <psychologically and tangibly> and I may be able to take a stab at what his emotional drivers are … I most typically do not. My critical evaluation mostly resides on ‘knowledge.’


His business knowledge and how he uses it.


All that said.



Sometimes I use some harsh words.


I have called him batshit crazy <hyperbole>.


I have called him a clown <he does portray some circus performer aspects on occasion>.


I have called him an idiot <misuse of a word to highlight what is actually ‘oblivious behavior’>.


Does that make my criticism too harsh? No. But what it may do is add unnecessary color to what should be a black & white issue.


Black & white?

grays black and white

As one article summarized it perfectly — Trump is simply a profoundly mediocre person tragically unfit for the presidency.


Criticizing chaos, or less than competent leadership behavior, or even less-than-principled foundational business acumen is simply pointing out unnecessary turmoil – or a situation which is at war with itself.

Maybe one should view my writings and critiques as the writings of a wartime journalist recording the battles, generals and strategies.


Maybe I should think of myself that way with Trump. Why? I want peace. I don’t want this turmoil. It is tiring and mostly unnecessary. And any viable sane business person who has ever held any significant responsibility knows that this is mostly unnecessary turmoil.



That said. I will continue with criticism … as harsh as is necessary … because I seek peace <because I believe America deserves it and not this shit>.


Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them


I opened with the Emerson quote, purposefully, for two reasons.


The first was what I just pointed out. I am a business guy and I recognize that not only is chaos & turmoil bad in business it is, more often than not, unnecessary and a reflection of poor leadership. While I may be a small voice in the grander scheme of things I will continue to use my voice to criticize with an objective of ‘peace’ instead of what we currently face.


My second reason resides in listening to the critics. Emerson is absolutely correct in that if you listen to critics and criticism too much you can very easily lose sight of what is truly important. Someone will always tell you what you have done wrong and what you are doing wrong. However. Not even listening to critics, simply ignoring their thoughts as irrelevant is the path of fools. Good leaders sift through the criticism for the valuable grains of truth. And while Trump clearly listens, obsessively I may add, he does not ‘hear.’ And, yes, there is a difference between listening and hearing <by the way … I wish media would impostor syndrome what i know doubtpoint that out to Trump surrogate who incessantly claim Trump is a good listener>. Trump listens to criticism and finds ways to ignore the truths in any way he can.


That said … the conclusion to that thought isn’t “you are wasting your time criticizing” but rather ‘ongoing criticism enable enablers to corral bad behavior.’ Ignoring incompetence or poor decision making or even misguided organizational development steps is not an option.


Criticism offers opportunities for course correction.


What that means is I will continue to criticize, harshly when appropriate, until the country is on a course … any course <because , in business, you learn that there is no one course just a choice among courses>. And I will criticize until he actually starts acting like all the other CEOs I have ever met, because, once again, this is not how good CEOs behave.



Author’s note:


I continue to suggest everyone who desires to know how professional foreign affairs and intelligence people and military assess the Trump administration and Trump behavior should visit www.warontherocks.com . My favorite author just delivered a blistering commentary, criticism, of Trump called “The Incompetence Doctrine” … a must read for everyone.






shared responsibility

April 17th, 2017

 generation think attitudes collective individual share



We tend to hold ourself accountable for things we never did.

Hearts we never broke. People we didn’t hurt.

Souls we didn’t crush. “






All these years I’ve been looking at the wrong side.


(via madelinemharris)





Accountability, or responsibility, is always a good topic. And, yes, I am a big personal responsibility person. But in business, within an organization, being responsibleresponsibility tends to be more shared responsibility than simple personal responsibility.




To be clear.


I believe there is a strong relationship between shared responsibility and personal responsibility. The stronger the shared responsibility attitude & behavior within leadership & mentors & role models the stronger the development of personal responsibility muscle occurs in everyday schmucks like me. Conversely, if you are surrounded with lack of shared responsibility examples <or even those who espouse ‘selectively chosen shared responsibility’> the value of personal responsibility diminishes to an individual, therefore, they see less value in exhibiting personal responsibility.


We don’t talk about this relationship enough.

Far too often we flippantly suggest “people should take responsibility for their actions.”


Well … no shit Sherlock.


But if your roles models or leaders are constantly passing the buck when the shit hits the fan to save their own bacon <and image> then what the hell … why would you not do the same?

irresponsibility made easy




Everyone has to pull their weight and do their job and do what they say they are going to do … but very very rarely does an individual perform in a vacuum in a business.


This happens more so even in management.


It drives me a little nuts when I hear some leaders discuss “delegating.”


Somehow delegating equals “absolved of responsibility.”


This is stupid irresponsible thinking.


My belief that it is stupid thinking is rooted in some common sesne I am fairly sure the US Military says:



You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.



In other words … you can give others the power to do things … you can delegate … but, no matter what happens … if something goes wrong … the final responsibility always lies with the one who has delegated authority.


Sticking with the military as my guidance … this means if your business has an initiative that has gone SNAFU <“Situation Normal: All Fucked Up”> the blame … and the ultimate responsibility for the mistakes <fuck ups> falls … uhm … up.

The leader assumes responsibility.


This is shared responsibility.


In other words … this is leadership.




Once you become a business leader past a mom & pop management style business you have to face the concept of shared responsibility <and some embrace it and some reject it>.


puzzle people connect shared responsibilityDespite the fact you have delegated authority that ‘authority’ does not represent a discrete event and period in time.

You bear the responsibility for the cascade of events, decisions and actions leading up to the ‘authority giving’ which means everything you have done up until that point provides the context for the delegating … yeah … you own the arena in which you have placed the delegatee.


But this gets exponentially worse <if you are thinking about becoming a business leader>.


You actually also share responsibility for the consequences … uhm … intended and unintended.


This is different than delegating authority <although it relates to it> and owning responsibility for the action … this goes beyond to the actual ripples from the decisions & actions.




Some leaders have a nasty habit of assuming responsibility for the decision and the effect of the decision — within a finite period of time. The weakest leaders try and tie “that was out of my control” or “I wasn’t there for that” as soon as they can to a decision they make.


The strongest leaders worry less about any carnage that has been left behind but rather start worrying about any carnage the decisions & actions could possibly create for the future.


The truth is that business leaders should take a moment and remember the wise words of … well … an American Indian.


Red Cloud, an Oglala Lakota leader who led his people against the U.S. Army and later as his people transitioned from life on the plains to the reservation, stressed that when Indian people made a decision, it should be done with the welfare of the next seven generations in mind.



world is yours ours share life

In a short term world where most business leaders are trying to make quarterly goals and just try and keep their job … thinking with the welfare of the next 7 generations seems … well … impossible.


I imagine the real point is that most good business leaders assume some responsibility for the generations to come.  Some people may call this ‘long term strategy’ and some others will call it ‘keeping your eye on the horizon’ or even ‘having a vision’ … well … I am no Harvard Business guru and all that high falutin’ stuff seems unnecessary. To me it is much more simple.

You make decisions accepting the burden of responsibility for what will come … and may arise from your decision.


You share the responsibility for what will, or may, come.


And if you do that? Damn. You will do good and be good.


And if you do not do that? Damn. You may get a shitload of attention and applause in the moment and a shitload of attention and anger in the future.



Why do I say that?


Because if you don’t really believe in shared responsibility and flit from one decision to the next in a transactional “responsible only to the moment” way you will end up rushing from issue to issue, reacting without a plan or a strategy or <worse> no care of longer term affect, creating carnage yet to be seen <because that type of leader tends to seek only the cheers in the moment>.




Innovative solution plan as a pencil trying to find way out of maze breaking through the labyrinth as a business concept and creative metaphor for strategy success and planning achievement.

Just to point it out … with no plan that means anything can happen and a leader can justify anything. Because with no plan to measure a decision against anything can look right … and unpredictable can be touted as ‘flexible to the situation.’


All of this fits a short term leader in a short term world.


The people are few and far between these days who weigh their responses and assess long term affects. In today’s world it almost seems a race to be the first to judge or comment on a decision or action and far too many leaders actually manage to the public race to comment rather than the longer term assessment.


This is scary stuff for anyone to do but a business leader? Dangerous.

Even the best short term decision makers, if forced into a gauntlet of short term decisions, will struggle to insure at the end of the gauntlet they have kept walking northwards as they had been looking down the entire time. More often than not North will not be the direction you are facing nor will you have actually moved any closer to the North star.


I am not suggesting this longer term shared responsibility attitude is easy.

In fact .. it is really really hard.

In fact … it almost means you have to embrace a little “impossible” into what you actually make possible.





In general I have always liked logical thinking <no matter how random the logic may be> but I always love it when someone combines some unexpected logic.

Generally speaking the best unexpected logic actually comes from those who do the impossible … thinking of the impossible and seeing possibilities — the impossible being “knowing for sure what will happen in the future.” They make the spectacular leaps/chances, accepting responsibility and sharing responsibility, so that business can make the needed changes or just do the semi-risky things that keep a good business doing good things <things that may push against the borders of the status quo>.



Spectacular errors can only happen if you take spectacular chances. I am not fond of irresponsible risk taking and decision-making, but I am fond of doing ‘the right thing’ even when it may appear to be going against the stream. Sometimes that means a spectacular success, sometimes a spectacular error. But always something spectacular.


And I will tell you … what more could you want to say about your life as a leader but that you have done something spectacular? Especially if that ‘spectacular’ actually happens a generation later which permits you to sit back and say “I did the impossible … I viewed the future well.’




Shared responsibility is the burden of any good leader. They tend to be the leaders who understand they cannot really be sure what is going to happen to them over time, they weigh the risks to the best of their ability and let the chips fall as they may.

I tend to believe their attitude is one of “you don’t want to act more fearfully than you have to.”


Good leaders have a tendency to hold themselves accountable for anything, everything and everyone … in varying degrees depending on the anything, everything and everyone. And, maybe most importantly, I tend to believe they understand that there is a relationship between shared responsibility and personal responsibility.


And, practically speaking, you will never be viewed as a true leader if you do not.


Well.my life is my message duty


You know what?


To end this thing today … let me offer two other words, typically associated with responsibility, obligation and duty.


Obligation refers general to something you are compelled to do by regulation, law, promise or morality. I think good leaders feel obligated to assume shared responsibility.


Duty, more so than obligation, springs from an internal moral or ethical impulse rather than from external demands.

I think good leaders feel a duty to assume shared responsibility.


Shared responsibility … not only do I believe we should discuss it more often <because it will foster better value in personal responsibility> but I also believe we should be demanding it of our leaders more often.

business and principiis obsta

April 30th, 2016


control confront what you can



“Any attempt to make heaven on earth invariably produces hell.”




Karl Popper




principiis obsta


Latin meaning “resist the beginnings” to avoid an unpleasant end.







This is about control and lack of control. This is about doing and not doing. This is about ignorance and confidence. This is maybe also about our quest to control going to hellthings with the intent to create perfection … or maybe our attempt to create heaven within our purview.


And, ultimately, this is about the wretched in-between all of that in which businesses thrive, survive … or die. Let’s call it the inevitable hell of reality if you pursue things believing you can control what will be.



One of the hardest things to learn as you gain more and more responsibility in your career is that while you gain more responsibility you lose more and more control.

This is a really hard lesson because … well … face it. You most likely were initially anointed for promotions and more responsibility because you had show you could control. in fact. your incredibly unattractive anal perfectionist attitude & skills were most likely what made you professionally attractive <and successful>. Your continued success actually encourages you to believe everything will be better <at least for you and to you> if you maintain control.

Some business people never learn to loosen the control attitude and … well … either flame out or become one of those horrendous managers no one wants to work for.


Some get it … that you lose control … and that is when you learn to “manage.”



Let me be clear.


What makes this really hard is that control is insidious. The more we pursue it the less we seem to have of it.


The more we pursue it the more it seems to poison our attitudes and behavior.

What I mean by that is our personal attitude with control affects our attitude with regard to those around us. Inevitably it can create an overall sense of paranoia not only with tangible doings but in the intangible, and even more insidious, lack of trust in those around us.


Think about it.

The Roman emperors killed advisor after advisor and even close relatives to prevent them from taking their power … from taking away their ability to control.


The sacrificing of other’s is fruitless because … well … the pursuit of control as the end goal is futile. Having control of anything is an illusion or at best a coincidence. You can never quite get there.


To be clear, I am making a distinction between control and influence. Control, especially of people, is not possible. You can exert influence, but there is no guarantee that your influence will actually produce the results you intend.

That is the distinction … you can exert influence … but you cannot control actual results.

bad influence on self



To let go of an unhealthy grasp of control you in turn need to embrace the maddening ambiguity of life and business. This mean embracing change, adapting and the inevitably aggravations that come with unintended consequences and foreseen activity.


This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to influence the outcomes of actions but it does mean you may have to accept that demanding that things always go the way you believe they should go will not happen.


Bottom line.

If we are too focused on trying to control everything with the intent to create heaven … we will create hell.


And the hell is internal and external.


Based on our lack of control … internally we can become cynical as our attitude becomes dominated by the “futility of it all.” Externally people are frustrated and micromanaged and so much time gets wasted on attempting to ‘control’ that actual ‘doing type stuff’ becomes less than efficient and runs the overall risk of being ineffective.


<note: we all know managers like this …>


From this point forward most of our actions fall into one of two places:


  • Do nothing <most of the time … just be reactive>

asshole bad manager

  • Do something <most of the time … act upon any and all beginnings we recognize>



Both are bad but the second is most typical of those who seek to control and are frustrated by lack of control.


They just cannot resist beginning something. They almost do not care what … just something.




“When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.”



Lord Falkland





The flip side of control is usually about doing … like ‘controlling actions with a goal in mind’ type stuff.


The quote above speaks that what we know often protects us from trying things needlessly.

And, yet, the quote also points out that not making a decision is difficult. Many of us … our natural instinct is to make a decision or to do something.


In fact, sometimes we seem to have some absurd confidence that if we try hard enough … success can be achieved. This same confidence makes us ignore the beginnings and step forward confident we can do something if we just keep searching for answers.


Inevitably, by not resisting the beginnings, we cannot avoid unpleasant ends.




And this is all done under the auspices of a desire for control.




Ignoring your control instincts is difficult.


But, if you do, you learn and grow … sometimes by rebuilding that which was either built wrong or just should be rebuilt to meet a new environment.

And answers appear less in pursuit but in awareness of the changing situation <giving ‘answers’ space to appear>.



It is natural to try and control mostly because the alternative seems to be lack of control.


The reality is somewhere in between.

And that in between can be an uncomfortable place to reside.


But that uncomfortable place is called Life. It is not heaven nor is it hell. It is just Life.


I don’t have advice but I can say what I do.



I don’t believe in “control what you can.” That suggests simply because you can that you should. Similar to when a situation dictates you make no decision and it then becomes necessary to actually NOT make a decision … when you can control a moment or a situation it becomes necessary to decide if you SHOULD control it or not.

This makes Life infinitely more difficult in the choice & control aspect but most often infinitely more enjoyable, efficient & effective.




I accept most control is situational and within a very specific defined time frame. This makes my version of control infinitely easier for me. I know I have the power to control for a window of time and then let it go when the window closes.


By the way … I am not suggesting recognizing the window is easy. I have had my fingers smashed many times when the window closed and I was still trying to control.

management what growing-global-executive-talent

Both of these thoughts suggest control is both an art & a science.


Far too often in business people do not think of control as either an art or a science but rather either a responsibility or a right.




Ultimately someone needs to be in control or there is just sheer chaos.



Control, implemented improperly, may create something worse than chaos … it creates hell.

criticism & judgment & self regulation

December 9th, 2015

recognizing real people define judge


“To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.

Every man is entitled to be valued by his best moment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


“I do not judge men by anything they can do.

Their greatest deed is the impression they make on me.”

Henry David Thoreau




Sometimes … okay … oftentimes … I think we lose perspective.

perspective is everything

And in that lost perspective we judge poorly and criticize unfairly.



I sometimes think because we lack connection to the larger perspective and therefore end up in this cocoon of ‘what the hell is happening right now’ that … well … we criticize or judge in frustration.


What I mean by that is we stop just ‘feeling’ what is going on around us. We don’t really think about shit and instead we focus on what we don’t feel … which ultimately means we rely almost solely on just what we see.

And then we judge and criticize.


Here is the crazy part.


Despite the fact we aren’t truly sensing what is going on before we act and what we see isn’t framed by any thinking … our judgement/criticism crisis is driven but by emotion.








Now … almost everyone will scoff at this and say “if my fault is losing larger perspective than my strength lies in common sense reaction to tangible results … and that isn’t emotional … that is a rational based response.’



Well … no … everyone is mostly wrong. You are simply using the tangible as an excuse for being too lazy, or declining to, pause and think of the larger perspective. And you couch that decision in emotion.



By the way … I believe this happens in business and in everyday life.






Everyone has an excuse.self regulate commit


They simply haven’t strengthened their self regulation skills.


Psychologically speaking I think this lack of perspective is based in something called ‘a lack of self regulation.’



Self regulation is actually about emotions … and our emotions are driven by biological impulses.

To be clear … biological impulses are beyond our control … but the resulting emotions are not. Emotions, of any depth, are impossible to ignore … and, yet, they can certainly be managed. This self management is called self-regulation and it is a characteristic of emotional intelligence. This is the characteristic that frees us from running around chasing our impulses <I am chuckling as a very funny image pops into my head thinking about that>.



Interestingly studies have been conducted which show characteristics of people who have a well defined self regulation:



– an inclination towards reflection and thoughtfulness


– acceptance of uncertainty and change


– Integrity, specifically, the ability to say no to impulsive urges.



In today’s world self-regulation is a pretty underrated skill. For example … if you have great self regulation people will most likely see you as dispassionate or maybe aloof – not particularly the qualities desired to build connections with people. .


In addition … we have a tendency to glorify the passionate ‘authentic’ leader.


Sometimes this authentic passion is mistaken for ‘characteristic of brilliance.’



Anyone who says that is … well … nuts.


Just batty.



self regulation motivation
At no time in business history have we needed less unrestrained passion from our leaders and more self regulation.


Under the guise of ‘being authentic’ and ‘showing your human side’ we have permitted leaders to be less leaderly and more like us every day schmucks.







If I wanted an everyday passionate schmuck to lead I would raise my hand and say “I will lead.’


But I want … well … a leader.



I want someone who will criticize and judge fairly.



I want reasonable people making reasonable decisions and … well … being reasonable as they do so. I want someone who can self-regulate well because as they have the ability to maintain control over their own emotions I have a tendency to believe they will be more likely to maintain control over the natural ebbs & flows of the organizational emotions.


I want environments low on drama and high in productivity.


Frankly … if a leader can create that environment the best of the best employees have a tendency to flock to those organizations and prosper <and not leave>.



Self-regulation actually has a ripple effect. It creates stability at the core of the work environment. It also sets an example for organizational behavior and organizational attitude and organizational expectations.


The even handed nature of a self-regulated leader in combination with the measured positive attitudes <that have a tendency to be intertwined in that type of environment> tends to translate into a more positively measured-in-its-actions organization.



Even better?who dares strong possible


Self-regulation leads to a more measured criticism and measured judgment.







What a great word.


And what an undervalued characteristic.





Because it has tinges of ‘not spontaneous’ and ‘not instinctual’ and ‘lack of passion.’ And when all those tinges come together it becomes the hue of ‘slow & unsure.’



What crap.



Every person, every employee, deserves to be judged by their best moments and not their worst.



Every person, every employee, deserves to be criticized with measured self-regulated responses and not by some spontaneous feeling.



Every person, every employee, deserves to be led by someone who can self-regulate.



Let me end with one thought.



It is easy to be a crappy leader.


Really easy.


And very easy to judge your own success solely on outcomes and objectives reached and sales and ignore a lack of emotional intelligence along the way.


It would also be easy to suggest this self-regulation is ‘maturity.’

It is not. inside out leadership

A lack of emotional intelligence and lack of self regulation early on … and then that person is promoted … has been rewarded.

No increase in maturity will suddenly suggest to the crappy self-regulated business person that they should act differently.



It is hard to be a good leader. It takes a … well … measured self-regulated approach to provide the stability which empowers employees to be the best they can be.



I wish we would praise self-regulation more often … we may have more happy & productive business environments <without having to bribe employees to do the right things> if we did.

personal responsibility personal acceptance

December 1st, 2015


accountable point


“You’ll have to help yourself.”

Lemony Snicket


“It may be the wrong decision, but fuck it, it’s mine.”

Mark Z. Danielewski


“More than anything, to me, he was dad. And what a dad. He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life. He taught us to believe in ourselves, to stand up for ourselves, to know ourselves and to accept responsibility for ourselves.


Justin Trudeau at his father’s funeral




Personal responsibility is hard.



Much much harder than conceptually it sounds like it should be.

accountability actions consequences


I do not have any research today to show how people who have a strong sense of personal responsibility attained that character trait <although if you google it there are gobs of people with an opinion on it>.




For everyone who had great parents who taught them I can give you a dozen examples of people with crappy parents who have a strong sense of personal responsibility.


For every victim mentality person I can show different contextual situations that got them into that state of mind and, just as well, the path to a strong sense of personal responsibility is numerous and rarely a straight path.



But, even without research I will suggest a couple of things:



1. Personal acceptance.


letters to myself post it

To have personal responsibility you almost have to have a strong foundation of personal acceptance.

I imagine I could suggest that if it doesn’t than you are simply ‘posing’ in an attempt to look like you are responsible <and that rarely can stand the test of time>.




Somehow, someway people with a strong sense of personal responsibility have developed a strong sense of self. Not necessarily confidence … just self. They recognize ‘they is what they is’ and accept the flaws <and try to improve in some way> and accept their strengths <but never take them for granted>.


In their personal acceptance we, around them, see ‘solid.’ We love these people on our business teams and friend teams … as peers or as leaders … because regardless of their IQ or leadership skills or professional skills … they are lighthouse people in their own right.


These people can also be baffling to the perfectionists in the world because part of ‘personal acceptance’ is understanding, if not embracing, imperfections.




2. Lucky to be here but many others are just as deserving.



Let me suggest that people with an incredibly strong sense of personal fate waiters luckresponsibility will also most likely be the people who suggest they had a little luck along the way – lucky in life situations, lucky with mentors, lucky in opportunities – and even though they had worked hard they had done nothing to actually deserve the luck.

As a corollary to this thinking they would also believe, as part of the luck aspect, that there are many others just as deserving. This attitude creates a sense of responsibility for actions, behavior and attitudes. Mistakes are owned and successes are shared.


Some people may suggest that personal responsibility and accountability is a reflection of integrity or humility.


It may be.

But I rather believe it is more a sense of understanding that successes are more often than not a reflection of just hard work but also circumstances.

And, to that point, inherently someone with a strong sense of accountability balances success with the understanding that a portion of success is luck – luck of circumstance & luck of being the one where many were just as deserving if provided the opportunity.




Like I said in the beginning.



This is not based on research and you can toss this into your ‘Bruce bullshit bin’ if you want.



But I do not need research to state that personal responsibility and personal acceptance takes work. Lots of work. And lots of fortitude.


It is the kind of thing you spend your entire life working hard to not only ‘be’ but to live up to the character standard you have set for yourself. A standard which you will never measure others against because … well … it is personal.


You are accountable to your own standard and responsible to meet it. And everyone not only has the ability to set their own but they also have an unequivocal right to do so without anyone else telling them “how to be accountable.”




“It was instead something that we would have to spend the rest of our lives to work very hard to live up to.”


Spike Leeself unpronounceable






Personal responsibility is actually one of Life’s lightest burdens if you choose to accept it. That is why I am so often surprised by how many people actually do not accept this burden.


But, in the end, personal responsibility is a personal choice. No one can convince you to do it or be that way. You have to help yourself on this one because no one else can.

Enlightened Conflict