Monday, July 2, 2012


"There wasn't enough time."

"Nobody reminded me."

"My homework got left at home."

"My alarm clock didn't go off."

Each of these excuses has something in common. None of them insinuate that the person who is giving the excuse is actually at fault. The blame all rests on someone or something else. In Spanish, when someone forgets their keys at home, the literal translation would have the person say, "My keys forgot me." As ridiculous as that sounds, people use phrases that give the same message using different words all the time. Most people don't even realize they are doing it, but it makes mistakes easier for people to swallow. The problem is, it feeds attitudes in people that they can do no wrong.

If there is one common issue I see with the majority of recruits entering the academy, it is that they have not been taught to take responsibility for their mistakes. Because of the economy, a lot of young people are living with their parents for much longer. It's not uncommon anymore for someone to live with their parents into their mid to late twenties. The problem is, these young adults don't get out of the mode of being a son or daughter and their parents treat them just like they did when they were 17. The younger generation doesn't spend a lot of time working through hardship and challenges because their parents bail them out.

Does it sound like I'm making unfair generalizations? I am. I realize this isn't the case with everyone and there are plenty of young people who have fought through challenges and experienced plenty of hardship in their lives without the support of parents at all. So where am I coming from? personal experiences with academy classes. In my classes, those recruits who haven't learned personal accountability far outnumber those who have. It's frustrating for both recruit and RTO. The recruit fights it intensely because they don't see what the big deal is and don't think they are in the wrong (go figure). When the recruit finally starts growing up and realizing it's ok to be wrong and they don't die when they can openly admit it, real learning can start taking place.

So my advice? As you expect, I advise you to start owning up to your mistakes. Stop blaming other people. Stop trying to dilute your responsibility by dragging other people into it. Own it! People will start respecting you more and be more willing to help and train you when they know you aren't arrogant and unteachable.

Start leaving behind the phrases I included at the beginning of this post and start changing them to:

"I didn't manage my time well."

"I forgot."

"I am disorganized and left my homework at home when I left the house."

"I didn't pay close enough attention and didn't set my alarm clock correctly."

Notice they all start with "I" and they all own the mistake!

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