Accountability Avoidance and the 3 Words That Solve No Problems

Wizard pic

Meet “Wizard the Lizard,” an Australian Red Ackie Monitor. Having him as part of my reptile collection has reminded me why it is so easy for humans to avoid PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY.

Wizard is my first Ackie. After he arrived from a Las Vegas reptile store, I learned online that good Ackie care involves keeping their environment moist and hot. When kept dry and cool, there is a permanent consequence:

Their toes fall off—forever. 🙁

So, a little worried I’d get busy and distracted and do it wrong, I worked hard keeping Wizard warm and wet.

I never did count his toes when I got him, though.

Two weeks into owning him, as he relaxed on his fav log, I noticed something …

… a missing toe! When I looked at another foot, I saw it also lacked a toe. Within moments, I realized my beautiful Australian Ackie was missing five toes!

Now, as a caring pet owner, wouldn’t my first thought be, Oh, no! Poor Wizard the Lizard! Damaged for life!


It was more like this:

Not. My. Fault!

But how could I be sure? How could I exonerate myself?

I recalled that on the day Wizard came by FedEx, I took some photos and made a video of him to email to grandkids.

I scrolled through my iPhone till I found them. After expanding each picture, I employed a magnifying glass so I could see his feet even more clearly. Then I grabbed screenshots of that first video and studied each foot intensely.

In other words, I went way out of my way so I could say to myself, in good conscience—

Not. My. Fault!

Finally, I concluded that all of Wizard’s missing toes had been missing the day he’d come into my care. Which meant either the breeder or the Nevada retailer was accountable. Phew!

Not. My. Fault!

Our human need to not be at fault is clearly a major why behind PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY avoidance. But the consequence of those three words is equally clear:

No problems are solved.

In Wizard’s case, the problem is unsolvable since toes don’t grow back. But, because I wanted all accountability lifted from my shoulders, I wasn’t in a problem-solving, difference-making frame of mind anyway.

I was in an accountability avoidance frame of mind and that’s a lousy place to live life.

When people ask me, “What spurred you to create the QBQ! method for practicing personal accountability?” I tell them that I listen to people.

I hired a plumber to install a water softener last Friday. The next day the connecting lines were spewing water. When I texted pictures to Mr. Plumber asking him to come back, I received this response:Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 7.19.36 AM

“Looks like a faulty fitting. I tested it all properly by going through the correct process with GE for over an hour. All parts were inspected and there weren’t any leaks.”

In other words:

Not. My. Fault!

Three words that didn’t solve the problem.

I was also driven to create QBQ! by listening to … myself.

After all, thanks to the arrival of Wizard the Lizard, it’s clear that @QBQGuy still has a deep-seated, way-too-human, all-consuming need to avoid PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY!

I guess it’s time to reread the QBQ! book.

How about you? Share a time when you had an intense need to say/think/believe Not. My. Fault! We’d love to hear about it.

Another reptile-based QBQ! blog worth reading: 17 Things a Good Friend Does Not Do

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One Response

  1. Great post today! I can totally relate to this account of “not my fault” and I came to a personal understanding of it following a very unfortunate situation. During my career as a nurse leader, I had several instances where something happened, unintended of course, and a patient had a bad outcome because of it. In the beginning, I would sit there and try to understand how someone could have made this mistake. Of course, I would be among those to sit with the patient or family and explain the situation. Inside, I would continue to wonder how this could have happened. And then one day, as the Chief Nursing Officer, I was interviewing a nurse who had administered an overdose of pain medication to a patient. She was sure it was not possible, it must have been someone else who had adjusted the volume on the IV pump after she left the room, she was sure about it. My mind drifted for a moment as she continued to point the finger in another direction. During that moment, all of a sudden it hit me. I am just as accountable for this as she is. As the CNO, I am responsible for all patient care rendered by the staff I lead. I took a long, hard look at myself that day and asked this question of myself – “What am I doing to contribute to this error?” I have never looked at accountability the same since. As a leader, I am responsible for my own actions and for the actions of those I lead. It certainly changed the way I have gone about developing solutions. 🙂

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