A Wisdom Story of Blame

wisdom story Aug 12, 2019

When something goes wrong, we seek for reasons WHY it went wrong.  It's only natural.  In consulting, we called it Root Cause Analysis.  Unfortunately, in our attention deficit world, we don't have the patience or the time to dig deep and find root causes.  Instead we rely on easy. 

Blame is Easy

Too easy.  When someone cuts you off in traffic, you ASSUME the person is a jerk and that's what they ALWAYS do.  Your blood boils.  Maybe a few choice words spew out of your mouth.  In that moment, when your attention is consumed, did you just cut someone else off? 

A Wisdom Story of Driving Like a Lunatic

What was the root cause of that person cutting you off?  Are they having a bad day?  Are they late for their wedding?  Did they come out of the womb, born a jerk with a capital "J"?  You don't know.  You can't know.  So why assume the worst?

I remember an exact moment I was that guy.  That speeding nut, weaving in and out of traffic.  I just got out of a client meeting.  It ran 20 minutes long.  I allocated 30 minutes for the 20 mile drive downtown for my next client meeting.  My next meeting starts in 10 minutes.  Oops!

As I jump into car and speed off through the parking lot and onto the highway, I'm thinking, "I'm going to be soooo late.  15 upset clients."  As my nervousness escalates, I jump to 75 mph in the 65 mph zone through crowded traffic. 

And then…the engineer in me kicked in.  I calculated:  if I drive 20 miles at 60 miles an hour, I'll get there in 20 minutes.  10 minutes late.  Yikes!   If I want to get there on time, I would have to drive … 120 miles an hour!  I don't think my Ford Explorer goes that fast! 

Okay, 80 miles per hour.  15 minutes.  5 minutes late. 

Face it.  I'm 5-10 minutes late.  If I calmly drive speed limit at 60 miles per hour, I'll be 10 minutes late.  Use 10 minutes to strategize my sincere apology to 15 people waiting AND figure out how to add even MORE value to the meeting.

I wonder how many people judged me a jerk with a capital "J" before I adopted a better mindset and strategy?

We live in self-defined reality bubbles.  We seek easy, fast answers to get immediate closure.  Blame is easy closure … and not wise.

Wisdom = Good Judgment

Wisdom is the soundness of act or decision based on knowledge, experience and good judgment.  Webster dictionary tells us judgment is 'a position arrived at after consideration.'  How much consideration goes into blame?

In our world of fast food and fast news, let's NOT add Fast Blame to the list!  It provides a false sense of closure and it's like empty calories – satisfying in the moment but with routine consumption, leaves us unsatisfied and unhealthy!

If we blamed after careful considering root causes, we would RARELY assign blame.  Imagine THAT world!

Blame Steals

This morning I read The Blame Instinct, a chapter in Hans Roesling's book Factfulness.  He provides two pieces of advice when we feel like blaming: 

  1. Resist finding a scapegoat;
  2. Look for causes, not villains.

"Blaming an individual often steals the focus from other possible explanations and blocks our ability to prevent similar problems in the future."

Blame is easy.  It steals our ability to learn, to improve, to get better.  It steals a future better world.

Let's Stop Blame so we can Change the World for Good!


Thank you for Subscribing to our Weekly Broadcast