With my fibromyalgia, when I wake up I usually feel hungover, sore all over and the joints in my upper body are painfully stiff. But last Saturday I woke up feeling unusually chipper and my wife, to my surprise, had dropped off the kids at the babysitter for the day. I decided that I was going to take advantage of this and get some stuff done!
I got out of bed, got dressed and went outside to mow my back yard. I started the mower, got moving and after about 15 feet the damn thing stalled on me. So I went to the next thing on my list which was a few errands. I get into my car, try to start it and find that the battery is dead. Then I
Ok, I know I didn’t finish the last sentence. But only because I had tossed my laptop aside when my wife ran in the house carrying our 2 yr. old daughter who was screaming with blood gushing from a puncture wound in her foot caused by an old, rusted, inch long screw. So I’m finishing this article after midnight to make sure it gets to you on time. Given the subject matter of this article, what could be more appropriate? I wish I could make this stuff up!
So let me get to the point.
You are always going to have circumstances and many of them will be legitimately out of your control (like Ava’s bloody foot). At the most inopportune times your car won’t start, there will be a family crisis, your kids will injure themselves, severe weather will do damage to your home or school, your tire will go flat, your internet will be down or you’ll get sick.
As a Taekwon-Do Instructor you might get injured, staff members will move on or quit, students will start playing other sports, go on vacation or move and ultimately quit, uniform shipments won’t arrive on time, prospects will miss their initial intro or upgrade appointments, parents will forget to give thier kids their medication, students will be a distraction in class, parents will be upset (about almost anything) and some days you’ll just chalk up to being “just one of those days”.
On the surface it seems that all of these things have nothing to do with you directly. Another way of saying that is that these things aren’t your fault, they just happened.
And if you made the argument that it wasn’t your fault, you’d be right. The problem with operating in the world of blame and fault is that it gives you no ability to powerfully deal with anything. What normally happens when you relate to things this way is, if something is your fault, you might feel bad about it, try to fix it and hope everyone else involved either forgives you or forgets about it. If something is not your fault then you most likely do nothing about it and blame the person who’s fault you think it is for anything negative that resulted from what happened.
There’s nothing wrong with dealing with things that way, in fact, its how most of the world interacts with each other.
The only catch in dealing with life that way is that, even if you’ve been able to assign blame or fault someone or something, it makes absolutely no difference in your performance or you achieving your goals. Even if you can pinpoint who, what, where, when, why and how your school and your life have gotten to where they are right now, it will make no difference to you.
You could spend a lifetime trying to figure out why you are the way you are, why things are the way they are and why your life is the way that it is. And even if you figured all of that out, then what? Even if you figured all of that out, you’d just have one great big reason, explanation, or excuse for why your life is the way that it is. Figuring it out might make you feel better, but in reality, it won’t make your life any easier or better.
What happens when your rent is due and some students didn’t pay their tuition? What happens when an instructor doesn’t show up to teach class? What happens when your child injures themselves and you can’t be at the school to teach?
What happens when something is someone else’s fault, when there are circumstances beyond your control,
but you are still responsible?
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the blame and fault game are insufficient.
Your landlord, phone company and power company don’t care about who’s fault it is if you don’t pay your bills. It’s your responsibility to pay your bills and if you don’t, they shut you off. Your kids don’t care about who’s fault it is or why they haven’t had dinner yet. They just want to be fed and it’s your responsibility to make that happen.
Your fault or not, you are still responsible for what you are responsible for.
So what do you do? How do you handle things that you seemingly have no control over but are still responsible for?
The secret is declaring yourself RESPONSIBLE.
In every situation you have the opportunity to declare yourself 100% responsible for what happens and the outcome. Not in the way that politicians say, “I take full responsibility for what happened.” (which we all know is bulls#!t). Rather, you can genuinely declare yourself responsible for the situation and start taking actions consistent with that.
Now be careful here… I’m not saying that you are taking blame or that something is your fault. That’s what the politicians do. They use the word responsibility in place of fault and then hope whatever the situation is goes away. Blame and fault are different that responsibility. An aspect of responsibility could be taking blame or accepting fault for certain things, but those are not required for you to declare yourself responsible for something.
For example, in 2008 I was running one of our Taekwon-Do schools in east Phoenix. In the middle of the summer when it was 110-115 degrees out, our air conditioning unit died.
Our lease clearly stated that the landlord was required to replace it, but the landlord said otherwise and wanted to fight us on it, hoping that we’d cave and pay for their 10 ton, $15,000 A/C unit.
We tried using some portable A/C units but it wasn’t enough and we had to do something. There were still about 100 students that had paid to train!
Now, I could have went to them and said, “Sorry, but the landlord isn’t honoring his agreement with us so too bad. It’s their fault and until this is resolved we’ll just have to suffer and not have classes.” It would have been true and most of them probably would have understood.
But I still had a responsibility to them to fulfill on the promise I made to them when they signed up. So rather than blaming the landlord (which might have gotten me some sympathy, but in reality would have been just an excuse) we redesigned our schedule at our central Phoenix school which was only 5 miles away, let everyone know that we’d be training there and that if they couldn’t, or didn’t want to go there then we’d refund them their tuition.
So by taking responsibility for a situation that was not my fault, everyone was taken care of, no one was left hanging and they all had options that they could choose and be satisfied with. Ultimately, we left that location, the landlord had to pay for the new A/C unit and lost the $80,000 or so that was left on our lease. Then the building sat empty for the next four years.
You may have heard the expression S#!T Happens… and I’m sure that by now you know, it does. However, when it does, you need to not look for who’s fault it is or who you can blame. That will become evident and exposed anyway.
What you need to do is deal with the questions:
- What am I going to do about it?
- How am I going to deal with it?
You have a choice. You can either assign fault and blame others for the things that go wrong in your life and be the victim of those people and those things, or you can declare yourself responsible for the situation, choose what to do about it, choose how you are going to deal with it and get in action making sure that your life works!
I’d love to hear your comments below!
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do winning numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org