Quite simply, the concept of 100% responsibility offers that life happens because of me and not to me. Committing to the 100% responsibility challenge is just accepting that it is our relationship to this changing life that determines our happiness or sorrow. As the song says, “Let it be.”
In 1988 a beautiful person by the name of Hyler Bracey introduced the concept 100% responsibility, along with a multitude of other leadership and management tools, to the Adolph Coors Company. Hyler was President of the Atlanta Consulting Group and his team of consultants had been hired by the Coors family to facilitate re-organization and transition from of a number of dependent, vertically organized companies to a few independent, horizontally organized companies.
At the age of 28, Hyler had been in a stock car racing accident and burned over 60% of his body: his face was severely disfigured and his fingers were like burned twigs in a bonfire. Hyler helped me really grasp that “acceptance” is a wonderful gift that enables one to move through pain and suffering and evolve a life that the artist within can create. Hyler modeled that scars only offer a story about where we have been; they do not dictate where we intend to go. Hyler’s blue eyes were like magnets and they drew you into his heart where there was a wellspring of patience, generosity, connection and wisdom.
Have you ever noticed that when something goes wrong there is seldom someone who steps forward to shoulder the responsibility? Have you ever heard a person step forward and admit: I messed up. What needs to be done to fix it? On the contrary, there is normally a great scurrying about to avoid being identified as the culprit. In our culture the intense desire to be off the hook generates many clever and devious actions to avoid punishment or ridicule. However, as a life strategy, my experience is that it is ineffective in creating a result that you truly want. Excuses are not desired results. They may succeed in avoiding a negative consequence, but the desired result has gone begging. Those who accept excuses instead of performance will simply continue to get lots of ingenious excuses and few desired results.
Excuses can take many forms but two of the most popular are blaming and justifying. Blaming is simply a way of placing responsibility somewhere other than the person doing the blaming; and blaming merely places someone else responsible and in control. Justifying needs little explanation: it is easy to justify why things did not turn out as desired. At its most basic level, justifying is really a very subtle way to blame something else for the outcome. It is disabling behavior because it locates the power and control somewhere other than in us.
Why do we blame and justify? I am not able to speak for others, but I know that my perfectionist-reformer, inner-roommate likes to be right; however, being right is a booby prize. The real prize is the desired result. My experience is that being right and blaming and justifying keep me from being as effective as I could be. A really nice, simple option is to accept the 100% responsibility challenge: I am 100% responsible for what happens to me and other people are 0% responsible. Not 50-50; not 100-100. 100-0!! There is no one else to blame. Whatever happens, I did it. Whatever the result, I created it. The only enemy is me! My experience with the concept is that I create more results in my life; that I am a more effective human being; and that my life works better.
This concept is certainly not a panacea. Some things are simply out of our control. Even though I act as if I alone am 100% responsible, I still may not always produce the result wanted because of things beyond my control. However, if one can master and live the concept of 100% responsibility; and resist temptations to make excuses, blame or justify, empowerment and major causal improvements in quality of life can evolve. Just be 100% responsible.