How To Own Your Sh*t.
I have only about a thousand blog posts swirling in my head currently, but I'll start with this one. When you make a mistake, there's a way to handle it and a way NOT to handle it and it seems as though people struggle with this (people being ME) so let's talk about it.
#1 When you make a mistake, the very first thing that comes up typically is, "OH NO. I made a mistake and someone found out. Someone found out and someone called me out. F*CK!" We experience shame. It's a sense of being discovered and we want to hide.
#2 The second thing that often happens is that we get defensive. "That's not what I meant..." and other versions of denial or side stepping. This is super easy to do because it removes us of responsibility for what occurred.
#3 We blame the person who called us out for our mistake. "YOU ARE A GIANT MEANY!" Regardless of how you were called out or whether or not you agree with the method - it doesn't change the fact that there may be truth in there somewhere that you're avoiding looking in the eye. It's typically never going to feel good to have someone say, "Hey, you did this and it's not o.k. with me." There's just not really an easy way to say that to someone and you'll almost always "do it wrong" in their eyes. If you focus on HOW you were called out then you never have to look at the fact that you may have done something worthy of a call out. I once wrote an email to a person who had treated me poorly and told them how it made me feel and they responded with, "Well, that was really hurtful." I was sort of shocked. Like I just wrote to you about how your actions have affected me and the people around you/me and your response was, "THAT WAS HURTFUL"??? It was instantly turned around into how I was a mean person and then the contents of the original email were never actually addressed.
#4 We refuse to say, "I'm sorry. That sucked. I wish I hadn't hurt you." or, "I was wrong. Period. I want to do better." Instead we put our fingers in our earns and go, "La, la, la..." to anything coming our way that makes us feel gross and responsible and "wrong" and we spend all of our energy putting the other person down so we don't have to feel that thing we don't want to feel.
There's a girl I follow on IG who recently put out a cookbook that was almost instantly pulled off the shelves for having toxic ingredients included in some of the recipes that could cause serious illness. Her response on IG was that people "were mean" and there was no apology or owning of the experience whatsoever. In addition, she got defensive and said, "people should do their own research". I won't pretend to know all of the inner workings of that situation and I'm sure she was doing the best she could, but sometimes a simple, "That sucked. I'm human. I made a mistake. I'm sorry." can go a long way in restoring integrity.
Recently a girl reached out to me on IG in my DM's and called me out (really kindly) for using a term she felt was offensive. I took time before replying and thanked her for sharing her thoughts and told her that though I disagreed with her premise, I wanted to honor her feelings and so I removed the word. I wrote, "I see you and I hear you." It was a tough pill for me to swallow because I don't like to be called out. I also realized, at the same time, that the only way I'm going to grow and get better is if I hear other people's thoughts and feelings and join a really uncomfortable dialogues sometimes. It won't always come across gently from others. Sometimes it comes across like a slap in the face. I certainly prefer a gentle DM over a slap in the face, but at the end of the day, I don't get to control how it's delivered. I just get to control how I respond.
The things I'm working on currently around this:
#1 Noticing when I feel shame as a first response and allowing that feeling to come and then go without responding from that place.
#2 Accepting responsibility if there is any rather than jumping to defense. I ask myself, "What is true for me here?"
#3 Never blaming the other person for sharing their truth... even if it hurt to hear it/feel it. They have a right to their truth and they can share it however they like. I don't have to like it. I don't have to condone it. I don't have to respond to it.
#4 If I have ownership, then I say, "I'm sorry." I don't wait. I don't side step. I just say it.
None of these things are easy but all of these things are worth it. I want to become a person who is willing to take personal responsibility for my actions and own when I am in the wrong. And here's the thing: sometimes one person is actually in the wrong. It's not always a case of "we both did things". Sometimes one person acted poorly and that's that. The person who stands up and says, "That wasn't cool" is not the asshole. We all agree on that, right?
Communication is tricky but it's so important for leaders to practice getting it right. If you're someone who could use help with this, email me to schedule a Pep Talk. We're in it together.