• Tami McCandlish

It's My Fault


I pursed my lips when I heard clink-clinking in the dryer.


"Did you leave a jump drive in your pocket again?” I snapped at my husband, Charlie. “How many times have I told you—"


"I'm sorry," he said. "It's my fault."


I wanted to jaw at him some more, but his unhesitating forthrightness defused me. I rotated my shoulder as if to move a little pride monkey off my back.


Charlie’s response reminded me that if there’s a jump drive in the dryer, it’s my fault. I do the laundry.


“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m the one who didn’t check your pockets.”


It isn’t natural for any of us to admit failure and apologize. We’ve been passing the buck ever since Eve ate the forbidden fruit and blamed Adam, who blamed the serpent.


The world is full of blame, and many people won't accept responsibility for their circumstances. I write this to hold myself accountable as much as anyone.


Recently, my editor asked me about one of my sentences. “Are you being sarcastic or genuine?”


I deliberated. “Both,” I said.


“You can’t be both. It’s one or the other.”


Ouch.


I thought I was right. I liked that sentence. I wanted to keep it and felt entitled to write it. Self-pity threatened my mind. Maybe she just doesn't understand me. But as I thought about what I truly meant, I realized I needed to take ownership of my feelings. I needed to admit to my readers the sarcasm behind my words. If my readers view me as insincere, it's my fault because something is lacking in my writing.


Whenever I find myself blaming someone else for a problem, I think of the expression, “If it's always someone else's fault, chances are it's your fault.”


Ouch again.


If we’re not a little uncomfortable in our pursuit of growth, we aren’t doing it right.


We can’t expect anyone else to take ownership if we’re unwilling ourselves.


When we take responsibility and respond in a way that catches others off guard, as Charlie did with me, others are more likely to consider self-improvement.


Four years later, there’s never been another jump drive, Chapstick, or quarter in our dryer, because we both recognized our roles and accepted responsibility.


It’s a small victory, but I've found that practicing extreme ownership can end a cycle of complaint and positively impact the results.


The more I take ownership of minor things, the more I’m able to gut check myself when it comes to the big stuff.


How much better would our lives be if we took ownership of everything?