I cut two chapters out of my book because they were too nasty.
They vented all the awful details about how my terrible employees staged a mutiny to try to get rid of me, and corrupted the culture of the company into a festering pool of entitlement, focused only on their benefits instead of our clients.
Afterwards, I spent a few years still mad at those evil brats for what they did. So, like anyone feeling victimized and wronged, I needed to vent - to tell my side of the story. Or so I thought.
So do you want to know the real reason I cut those chapters?
I realized it was all my fault.
- I let the culture of the company get corrupted.
- I ignored problems instead of nipping them in the bud.
- I was aloof and away instead of managing or training managers.
- I confused everyone by sharing my daily thoughts before they had cemented into decisions.
- I announced decisions, then assumed they were being done, without following-up to ensure.
- I whimsically delegated to the wrong people, avoiding the mental work of choosing wisely.
- (I could list another 20 of these, but you get the idea.)
It felt so SO good to realize it was my fault!
This is way better than forgiving. When you forgive, you’re still playing the victim, and they’re still wrong, but you’re charitably pardoning their horrible deeds.
But to decide it’s your fault feels amazing! Now you weren’t wronged. They were just playing their part in the situation you created. They’re just delivering the punch-line to the joke you set up.
What power! Now you’re like a new super-hero, just discovering your strength. Now you’re the powerful person that made things happen, made a mistake, and can learn from it. Now you’re in control and there’s nothing to complain about.
This philosophy feels so good that I’ve playfully decided to apply this “EVERYTHING IS MY FAULT” rule to the rest of my life.
It's one of those base rules like “people mean well” that's more fun to believe, and have a few exceptions, than to not believe at all.
- The guy that stole $9000 from me? My fault. I should have verified his claims.
- The love of my life that dumped me out of the blue (by email!) after 6 years? My fault. I let our relationship plateau.
- Someone was rude to me today? My fault. I could have lightened their mood beforehand.
- Don’t like my government? My fault. I could get involved and change the world.
See what power it is?
Yes, the word “responsibility” is more accurate, but it's such a serious 6-syllable word, whereas “everything’s my fault” is a fun rule-of-thumb, and gets me singing Nirvana’s “All Apologies”.
Try it on. Stand up, open the window, look out at the world and shout, “Everything is my fault!”
Think of every bad thing that happened to you, and say it again.
That power looks good on you.
(Photo by Nathan Rupert.)
P.S. Also see “Happiness is letting someone make you the villain.”