My wife Kristen had a car accident recently. In our driveway. It was not the first time. She expected me to blow up and shower her with blame. I did neither. Why not? Because I “accused myself” first, as recommended by the Persian poet Rumi:
When something goes wrong, accuse yourself first.
Even the wisdom of Plato or Solomon
can wobble and go blind.
We had a friend who parked in our driveway right behind our garage. As I pulled out, I saw the car was there and dodged it. I wondered, “Would she see it?” (We have a steep driveway, and it is hard to see what is behind your car as you back out)…and thought “I should call her” but did not.
So later, when I learned there had been a minor fender bender in our driveway I was as cool as the cucumbers in my garden. I shared a small amount of the responsibility, and it helped us take care of the business of fixing cars, as a team.
I am aware that this is not the natural response, or easy. Blame is as common as dandelions. Taking accountability for our part when something goes wrong is a possibility, for all of us.
If you want to hear other stories of how to manage challenging conversations and accuse yourself first, please consider my book. You can order it here.
And if you can’t get the book, don’t worry, I won’t blame you!