Personal accountability and ownership are impossible to separate. Tough to have one without the other.
In our home Karen schedules doctors and dentists and provides our adult kids a most patient ear when they call from four states away. I check bank balances, set up airline reservations, and pick up dog mess in the yard (TMI? Sorry). We simply have defined parental and household duties.
So when the next Miller teen hit the WHEN AM I GONNA GET MY DRIVER’S LICENSE?!? stage, we all knew the job would fall to me. I handle the driver training and always have. Done it four times now. I’ve got experience!
But, this time, I blew it.
On Saturday afternoon, the teen daughter who hardly knows the difference between the brake and gas pedals and I were heading home. We live out in the Colorado country where young people have practiced driving on back roads since the dawn of the automobile. So, a half mile from our house, I put her in the driver’s seat and after thirty seconds of “training” said, “Go!”
She went—and did fine all the way to our driveway. Well, there was some swerving, but no harm done since we didn’t see another vehicle. But as we got to our drive, flanked by two huge boulders, I thought, Hmm, I should take the wheel now and turn into the driveway and park.
But I didn’t. I had a mental lapse. I assumed too much. And I got lazy. I mean, it’d be too much work to switch seats now. So I said, ”Go ahead and turn in. You can do it.”
Boy, do I ever wish I had a “do over.”
At first she wasn’t turning sharply enough, so I somewhat tensely instructed, “Turn, turn, turn!”
I felt like I was singing very poorly The Byrd’s 1960’s folk song!
So she corrected, but way too much, turning so hard that my two-year-old Tacoma abruptly shook hands with a much older and far less flexible opponent: A one ton rock we’d bought at a Boulder, Colorado quarry in 1999.
The Boulder boulder won. My truck lost. Any idea what happens when today’s modern fender runs into last millennium’s rock???
What a mess!
The teen felt terrible, fearing Dad would be mad. But how could I be mad—it was my bad. To be truthful, I was mad at … me.
When Kristin—another daughter—speaks at a client event on “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” she tells the last story in the QBQ! book. And she tells it well because she was there when it happened. I won’t share it here, but I will give you the punch line because it’s so perfect for my Truck Meets Rock story:
It’s my mess.
- My child is struggling in school. It’s my mess.
- The department I manage isn’t performing. It’s my mess.
- I’m 35 pounds overweight. It’s my mess.
- My marriage is on the rocks. It’s my mess.
- My sales numbers are down. It’s my mess.
- I’m really really stressed out! It’s my mess.
- My life isn’t turning out the way I’d hoped. It’s my mess!
And, of course, my pick-up truck requires thousands of dollars of repairs now and it is totally, completely, and unequivocally my mess.
This is, of course, the essence of personal accountability, responsibility, and ownership. Those who can and do say “It’s my mess!” are far ahead of those who don’t. Without these words and the attitude that comes with them, I can’t solve problems—or learn, grow, and change. Personal accountability is foundational to all success. It’s an amazing rock to stand on.
What is one problem I have where approaching it with an “It’s my mess!” mindset will help me move forward? What will be the value to me?
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below and we’ll have some outstanding dialogue!