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Real Men Accept Responsibility








“Mr. Campbell!” the upperclassman bellowed.  “Yes, Sir!” Campbell, the doolie (first year cadet) responded.  “Why didn’t you shine your shoes?”  Out of habit the doolie begins explaining only to be abruptly stopped by the upperclassman.  “Campbell, what’s the answer to a ‘Why?’ question?”  “No excuse, Sir!” Campbell shouted.  “That’s right Mr. Campbell, carry on.” 

No Excuses

“No excuse, Sir” was one of my five basic responses as a doolie at the Air Force Academy.  Doolie is a rough derivative of the Greek word doulos which means slave.  “No excuse, Sir.”  was the only authorized response to a “Why?” question. 

After several more repeat scenarios like the one above.  The light eventually came on.  Leaders take responsibility for their own decisions and actions as well as the actions of those under their leadership.  Responsibility starts and ends with the leader – no excuses are allowed when mistakes are made or unintended results occur.

Some of Today’s Leaders

Almost daily we see and hear stories of a leader not accepting accepting responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.

  • Josh Pastner, University of Memphis basketball coach, blaming his wife after he committed a minor NCAA violation.
  • Captain Francesco Schettino of the Italian cruise liner, Costa Concordia.   After his ship’s hull was breeched after running aground, the Captain “accidently” tripped into a life boat before ensuring his passengers were safely off board. 
    • Captain Schettino repeatedly ignored the orders of the Italian Coast Guard to get back on the ship.
  • The failure of Penn State football program and school officials to take decisive action to end the sexual abuse perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky from 1998 to 2011.


Seeds of Irresponsibility

What makes us make decisions and then not accept responsibility for them if they turn out to be the wrong ones? 

  • Seems Easier at the Time. 
    • Much easier to blame someone else than admit we are wrong.
    • No one likes to be wrong especially if there are flaws in our decision making process.
  • Lack of Courage and Self-Discipline.
    • Makes it extremely difficult to accept responsibility for our actions when it means we have to own up to something that was a mistake and especially if it hurt someone else. 
  • Hide Weakness and Mistakes
    • Leaders especially aspiring leaders are frequently taught to hide their weaknesses and mistakes.
  • Fear of Accountability 
    • Accountability means accepting the consequences of your actions.
      • Seems to have taken on the sole meaning of needing to punish someone when something goes wrong.
      • It has become something to fear rather than embrace with courage.

 Benefits of Being Responsible

  • Self-Esteem
    • We all like to feel we’re capable of doing things on our own.  This feeling increases our self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Provides Evidence of Emotional Maturity
  • Leads to Positions of Increased Responsibility
    • Being a trusted employee can get you work of increasing responsibility which may lead to bonuses, promotions and pay raises.
  • Admirable Trait
    • Most of us dislike dealing with people who are irresponsible or who blame others. Being responsible is a character trait we should all desire.  You get a good reputation.  You also feel good about yourself by having such character.
  • Changes focus from outward to inward.
    •  Away from justifying, blaming and excuse making.
    •  Leads to understanding.

Examples of Men Who Take Responsibility

They’re names are Jon Blunk, John Larimer, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves.   These men unhesitatingly made the ultimate sacrifice in response to their strong sense of responsibility. 
While waiting to the see the premier of “Dark Knight” in Aurora, Colorado these men recognized and responded to their responsibility to protect their girlfriends from harm.  In the process, they became heroes and gave their lives. 
When the shooting began Jon Blunk, John Larimer, Matt McQuinn, and John Larimer pushed their girlfriends to floor and shielded them with their bodies.  Because of their sense of responsibility toward protecting their girlfriends, the four women survived the Colorado movie-theater massacre with only minor wounds.
As a parent would you want to know your daughter is with a man who considers responsibility an obligation?

On the other extreme, at the “Dark Knight” premier there was a “man” with his girlfriend and her two children.  When the shooting started this man raced out the theater driving off in his girlfriend’s car and leaving her and her two children behind.  The girlfriend eventually called the boyfriend to let him know they were safe.  When interviewed the boyfriend thought his behavior was comical and made light of it with reporters. 

Would you want your daughter to date this “man” who considers responsibility an option?

 Take Aways

  •  Real men view responsibility as an obligation, and not an option.
  •  We and only we are responsible for our actions.  If you make a mistake, take responsibility for your actions.
  • Our decisions are made by us and no one else.
  • Don’t do things you know are wrong and then blame someone else.
  • Don’t place blame for the problem, fix it.
  • “The price of greatness is responsibility.” ~ Winston Churchill

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