JUST THE FACTS
Dr. Paul Livelli
Have your ever noticed the individual who has the worst luck out there—the one who everything happens to? Many times when I meet this individual and listen to his/her stories, they are convoluted with emotion, and victimization, and uncontrollable events…Many years ago when I was in the military I encountered what I thought to be a strange notion at the time. You see, the military believes there are no accidents. Every event is investigated and a person(s) is made responsible.
I was running late one morning while stationed down in Mississippi and of course First Sergeant had a surprise inspection of the dorm. Needless to say, my roommate and I failed. You see, we had pizza the night before (okay and some beers—hence the lateness). While running out the door I grabbed the pizza box off the unmade bed, spilled crumbs from the box across the floor, my roommate had left toothpaste open and one the sink. It seems silly to most but the military believes in absolute tidiness if nothing else.
My roommate was first to see the First Sergeant. It didn’t go well. He made up a story, blamed some stuff on his roommate (me)… His consequence? Three over-night watches (staying up all night on the weekend and watching the dorm). I was next into the office.
“Livelli,” he screamed, “your room looks like S***!”
“There’s no excuse for my behavior First Sergeant!” I interrupted.
He got out of his seat, “What did you say to me?” he screamed.
While standing at attention, “There’s no excuse for my behavior First Sergeant.”
He paused. (You see my stay in military school sometimes came in handy.) “You’re damn right there’s no excuse. What the hell happened?”
“There’s no excuse for my behavior,” I repeated.
He looked at me. I stayed at attention looking straight forward. He sat back down.
“Get the h**l out of my office, Livelli.”
It was difficult to get used to at first, but eventually I came to the conclusion, as hard as it is to hear sometimes, First Sergeant was right—there are no accidents. It was my fault and by taking ownership of my responsibility I actually escaped the consequences. I can tell you this does not always lead to escaping consequences, but in a work environment, at home, with friends, it often leads to respect and forgiveness.
A plate falls to the floor…oops I’m sorry, it was an accident. Well maybe you were going too fast, maybe you were paying attention to the Morning Show instead of handling the plate carefully…In fact, when one looks at the facts, 99.9% of the time (the other .1% is still denial) one can usually put the finger on what lead to the “accident.” It is really a hard notion to accept, but once you do, you realize that I am the only person responsible for my behavior.
In my career I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of individuals who firmly believed that they were victims, and I have even played that role on occasions. But in hindsight, I realized that I am the one responsible for my behavior—the only one.
At the farm, as a program, they often go through a visual decision tree that leads to an event that we wished did not happen. And more often than not, the guys are usually able to pinpoint a decision (usually as series of many decisions) that leads to that undesired outcome. They go from “It’s not my fault” to “I am the only one responsible for my behavior.” Try it on yourself one day—you will learn about antecedents pretty clearly. Leave the emotion, the assumptions, the feeling and describe just the facts. You won’t like it at first, but it certainly can lead to some growth as an individual. It has for both Andy and Charlie (and yes I know that is an opinion!)
A special thanks to Dr. Paul Livelli for his ongoing contributions to our MCF family