It is my fault

These may be the four hardest words to say in the English language. I would be curious how they are worded in other languages. A mea culpa, which is means my great fault, makes it sound nicer, but actually increases the burden. We are human. We screw up. To be accountable is to say “mea culpa” or “it is my fault.”

When I have said these four words, it gets an unusual reaction. It is my fault. One place I worked, after I said it to someone, he asked “Are you going to admit that ?”

“Yes, I screwed up,” I responded. “But, I will fix it.” This knocked him for a loop. Apparently, in his view it was the kiss of death to say mea culpa in the organization. His confusion was so obvious it left a lasting impression.

One reason for admitting fault can be traced to playing sports. When you screw up, everyone can see it. Plus, you let your teammates down. In the heat of the action, the four words are often shortened to two – my bad. The key is to make up for  your mistake. It is not uncommon for a chance at redemption to come by soon.

Another reason is being in a relationship. Trust me, you will screw up, especially if you are a guy. Not to generalize, but women tend to be more in tune with interactions, where we guys tend to be less subtle in our communications. So, when you screw up, be accountable. If you have dug yourself a hole, stop digging. It is my fault.

Accountability. I have screwed up many times and will again. Yet, I must be accountable for my mistakes. I read once that when mistakes have been made that end up in the tragic loss of life, the families left behind need some solace. They actually appreciate greatly a sincere apology. This does not erase the pain, but acknowledgement of the mistake helps.

So, let’s be accountable to each other. Let’s demand this from our leaders.



26 thoughts on “It is my fault

  1. I love a good ‘sorry’ especially from hubby! My mother used to say ‘sorry won’t put the teacup back together’ but I think she was wrong… It’s a pretty strong glue!

    • Kim, many thanks. Your mom sounds very down to earth. I would agree with her on an insincere sorry, but one that is heartfelt means much. Keith

  2. Reading your post I gut stuck at the paragraph where you came to relationships. I was so wishing for one day hearing something like: “I apologize, it was my fault.” Instead of being made believe that if I am not fine with something it was “my bad”. Taking responsibility for a “failure” and the intention to make it up or better makes me look up to that person.
    In German it is: “Es ist meine Schuld.” or “Ich bin schuld.” Or colloquial: “Ich habe Mist gebaut.” (I messed it up.)

  3. One of the things I have found as I grow older is that I tend to dwell on my screwups. I look back and wish I had a mulligan! I would do things differently and there would be fewer regrets. You are right: we all screw up and we need to admit it and try to make amends — and not dwell on it (which is the hardest part for me).

    • Hugh, dwelling on past screw ups is its own post. I also relive my less than stellar moments and wish I could turn back the clock on some of them as well. Of course, if I had done some of them better, it may erase much of the future. For example, this is not a screw up but serves the purpose – if I had taken the job in Nashville rather than Charlotte, I may have never met my wife. If an earlier girlfriend had liked me as much as I liked her…or if I had been more mature about some other relationships…

      It becomes a slippery slope to turn back time. Keith

      • It does occur to me that saying “it’s my fault” only takes us part way to a solution. We need to mean it when we say it and be determined not to repeat the offense. One of my pet gripes is the person who glibly says “sorry about that” and doesn’t mean a word of it!

      • Very true Hugh. Insincere or flippant apologies are a disservice to the offended. As you note, this is especially true for repeat offenders, who use apologies as a crutch.

  4. It’s hard to admit when I’m wrong, but I have been consciously working on it. It used to be so rare an occurrence that my husband would pretend to mark the date and time whenever I did it. Now I try to own up to my mistakes immediately, ask sincerely for forgiveness, and pledge to correct my mistake if I can and try not to make it again. What I have encountered at times is that the offended party often isn’t ready to hear my apology and can’t get past his or her anger. I have also been working to accept that this is a possible reaction and to give it time. Sometimes I have to apologize a few times for the same offense. If the other person is just not willing to forgive, I have to accept that as well. THAT is a real struggle! However, it does tend to ease the burden on my mind and heart if I have at least done my best to right a wrong. Time is too short to beat myself up over and over again. Another thing I am learning:) The best part about the whole thing is that my kids witness me making mistakes and trying to fix them. It makes it much easier for them to do the same.

    • Amaya, all good points, especially the last one. Kids emulate us, the good, the bad and the ugly, so we better minimize the latter two categories. A couple of presidential candidates have long forgotten this lesson.

      As for the time is too short to beat yourself up, refer to Hugh’s comment and my reply. I have also found people with higher standards for achievement, tend to beat themselves up the most. Keith

  5. Owning up to your mistakes is always a good thing. Hiding it will only make it harder to fix later. Steve Harvey made a mistake at the Miss America or was it Miss Universe pageant and owned up to it. He got invited to host it next year. He has 3 shows on TV and a commercial where he says he didn’t make the mistake. That mistake seemed to work in his favor. Good thought you shared here.

  6. Note to Readers: One of the best sports lessons I ever learned comes from my high school basketball coach. He was big on defense. His mantra was offense can have an off night, but defense cannot. So, if you messed up on offense, accept it and go play defense. That was where you could make up for your mistakes. If you did not play defense, you did not play. That is what being accountable and responsible is, because you have to want to play good defense.

    • Lisa, it is no contest in that race. Folks that are patting themselves on the back so much are not listening. Not to add politics, but the two fact checking organizations have noted little remorse about the 79% and 76% rate of lies told by candidate who tells us how great he is. Keith

  7. Note to Readers: Hugh’s comment reminded me of the horrible practice of public figures which has been given the appropriate name of the “non-apology apology. Variations are used, but things like “I am sorry you misunderstood me,” or “I am sorry you took what I said the wrong way,” are not what the doctor ordered. These place the blame on you for not understanding.

    I have written before about one of my favorite apologies uttered by former Senator Jon Kyl when caught in a lie, “You mistakenly interpreted my words as the truth.” In essence, he said it is your fault you believed me.

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