Followup to the Epic Fail of the Week: Praise Is A “We” and Accountability Is An “I”

Why is it that humbly owning a mistake is never out of vogue? And why is it that people who deflect accountability seem to grow smaller in character and stature? It almost becomes nauseating.

Image courtesy of George Hodan |
Image courtesy of George Hodan |

I’ve heard enough “blah blah blah” from sports figures and politicians to read between the lines and hear the true underlying message of “If it’s good, I had something to do with it; it it’s not good, please go ask the person at whom I am pointing my finger.”

I like to listen to Michael Hyatt and his podcasts – he is one of the premier leadership gurus and helps shape my thoughts about what genuine leadership looks like. I recently listened to his podcast “Why Accountability Is Vital for Leaders Who Want to Make a Big Difference.” One of the key statements that immediately captured my attention was that…

Praise is a “we” and accountability is an “I”.

Good stuff.

A few weeks back I wrote a post on Kaelin Clay and his epic fumble prior to entering the end zone. Read Three Takeaways From the Fail of the Week.

Now watch the first 1:13 of the follow up interview with Kaelin Clay and tell me what you notice:

“I…take…full…responsibility…for…what…just…happened.” Ahhhh, refreshing, isn’t it?

Are you not attracted to his response? That he almost comes out looking more like the real deal than if the mistake never happened? It is because Kaelin believes accountability is an “I”. He owned his mistake and shouldered the responsibility. And you know what? I really respect that young man.

I have not watched all of his footage or his interviews, but in this one, he simply nailed it.

Now view 1:14 – 1:47 of the same interview. What does Kaelin do? He praises his teammates. He did not talk about the other great plays he made that should have made up for his fumble. He did not pull a “com’on, give me a break!” He simply talked about how his teammates had his back and supported him and tried to encourage him the remainder of the game.

Kaelin must also believe that praise is a “we”. How refreshing.

My guess is that only a few fans are reliving that play and still upset. Fine – they are really not fans worth keeping. But I am also quite certain that Kaelin came out the better for it. And simply because of his character-based response.

In the same podcast, Michael Hyatt says,

As a leader, when you make a mistake, own it. It will restore people’s confidence and increase your influence.

Did you read that? Actually increase your influence.

This young player showed a good dose of humility and ownership and my guess is that it will increase the value of his stock come draft time. And his influence will grow among his teammates.

People want authenticity.

By the way, this mindset is valued and found throughout the Bible. One verse that has radically changed my own paradigm is Isaiah 66:2:

All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LordBut this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

God is omni-aware. He sees all. But it says that He takes special note of a special type of person: the one who is humble, quick to repent, and fears His word.

God notices those who own their mistakes. He notices those who then are quick to make things right. He notices those who do these things because they respect what God has said that He values.

And notice what God says about praise in I Thessalonians 5:11:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Bring others in for praise at every opportunity. Make praise a “we”.

Praise is fitting. It is most fitting for God but it is also fitting toward His own when character is displayed that mirrors something about the Creator.

You want to have influence in your leadership? You want others to follow your example as you follow the example of Jesus? Then let your praise be a “we” and your accountability be an “I”.

Because the truth is that the Gospel frees me – yes, liberates me – from the need to be strong, right, approved, or valued in others’  eyes. Why? Read this quote over carefully:

Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak;

Because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose;

Because Jesus was Someone, I am free to be no one;

Because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary;

Because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.

Resist the temptation to have to make yourself always look good or deflect blame. Make praise a “we” and accountability and “I”.


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