Blame vs. Responsibility

This is a must to teach your kids. We all need to hear this.

Probably the best book I have read in the last 15 years (and I’ve read thousands) is Jeff Olsen’s “Slight Edge.” (with permission from author) -Natalie, maybe we get him to share this one on his social media when we’re ready to move!

One of his main concepts is the idea of blame vs responsibility.

My daily ritual is the drive to drop the kids off at school every morning. It takes about 7 minutes. No not every drive, but on most days, we talk about concepts of life. I sneak it in with fun or silly stories, but I love that drive for the simple fact that our family ideas, mottos and traditions have this osmotic way of trickling in. It’s not drudgery to get them a concept and to just let it sink in.

I would guess most of the things that I talk about is something that rarely makes a giant impact instantly with my kids, but I know that as we discuss these life concepts or what Nikki and I called “Pillars of Life”, over time, they do stick. They become a part of their personality and their judgment as they grow through life.

The concept of “blame versus responsibility” is one of these that they immediately understood.

It is a key concept that we use as a family and perhaps one of the best lessons I’ll pass on to my own kids. In my opinion, it’s…(grumpy old man voice) “It’s what’s wrong with the world today!” (fists shaking in the air) 

 Allow me to share Jeff’s idea.

Basically, he recalls research over decades, looking into how and where people feel like they are in their life. Measured simply, in terms of “successful or unsuccessful.” Yep, it all boils down to two words, which just so happen to translate directly to happy or not happy.

Those that consider themselves successful repeatedly used the word responsible as they described how they got to where they were. 

As opposed to those that described life aspects as unsuccessful and unhappy repeatedly laid blame on others or other events.

Two words.  Basically, a mindset.

The entirety of life was due directly to their responsibility or the fault of other people in their lives.

The concept really stuck.  I can think of at least two people in my life that are 100% stuck in this quandary right now. They are blaming others for their misery. They refuse to take responsibility for their spot in life.

And by two I mean about 2000.

Recall, I’m a sports-based chiropractor. People come to me for their pains and stresses. My back hurts, I have a sore elbow, etc. But we talk. There is a lot of psychology that happens in my clinic. My clients talk about everything!  -so many aspects of life. Health, money, relationships, sports performance. This idea is broad-spectrum and applies to everything.

Here’s an easy example from today in the clinic:

Does your bum knee really hurt because you had a crappy therapist, terrible surgeon, and rehab was a joke? Will it always just be your crutch to bear? Or is it because you never did a thing yourself to help your own recovery. You went three times a week to rehab but never did the stuff you were told to do at home and just basically gave up? I often say in our clinic, “It’s truly not about the 30 minutes you spend with me, it’s about the 16 hours a day you’re awake. Are you making yourself better, or undoing what I’m trying to help you with?”

I don’t know?  I’m just asking.    

Are you broke because you have a crappy job and your boss is an idiot and your co-workers are backstabbers and keep you from getting noticed or are you in a rut and just never shop around for something better and spend your money on lattes, red bull and six-packs every day?

Are you riding the bench during football games because the coach doesn’t notice you and the popular kids get the positions and the mayor’s kid gets special favors from the staff or did you not pick up a weight all summer and some stud Sophomore kid is driven and pushed himself to get better?

Look, I get it – crazy terrible stuff happens in life. Things I can’t imagine or put myself in your shoes about. Accidents, disease, war, bankruptcy…life happens differently to different people.

But how do you handle it?

Some of the most successful and “making it rain” hand gesture cash-making fools have gone bankrupt.

Presidents have emerged from war.

Some of the strongest humans I’ve ever met have been in horrible accidents.

Even when it truly was someone else’s fault or a random act of nature…

It’s how they handle what life dishes out to them that directs their next steps and consequently sets the course of their entire path.

You’ve heard of “the path called life?”  Exactly. A path with lots of steps and decisions.

This idea makes a huge impact on kids. Although my kids don’t immediately digest this, I think it innately made sense. Nikki and I have gone back to this concept with our kids dozens of times while discussing the tough parts of their life. It’s one of the pillars of our family. And although it doesn’t work trying to discuss concepts such as this when something horrible or sad has just happened, it’s a foundation the kids need to have in their life.

As parents, we need to check ourselves and see what sort of example we are setting for our kids. Our happiness. Our success.  It’s completely based on how we blame and our responsibility.   

I’ve heard it a million times in sports. I’ve heard parents say, “The referee totally screwed us on that last call.”  

Typically, another parent will say, “I agree, but if we had played better it wouldn’t have come down to last play anyway.”

Blame is easy.

Responsibility is equally… just as easy.

It’s such a simple applicable tool to teach our kids. And ourselves. 

And it is the application that makes all the difference.  The difference in what direction you progress, your point of view and most importantly in results.

It applies to a lot…of life.

Simple yet effective. Be True to your family, ask yourself are you being responsible for your own life and that of your family.

Or don’t do anything…you can always blame me for never having any good info on my page.

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