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Fault Vs. Responsibility

by | Nov 23, 2020 | Life Lessons & Leadership | 0 comments

Fault vs Responsibility Shawn Trautman Lessons in Leadership

“It wasn’t my FAULT!!!’”

We had a long conversation, as a family, that started last night and made it’s way to the breakfast table this morning, and then to the couch.

Our talks was on the difference between fault and responsibility.

Let me first explain the picture.

Yesterday, my youngest went out to our car and opened the back to get her suitcase out. In doing so a bag of mason jars fell out and crashed into the ground, breaking into hundreds of little (and big) pieces.

We all heard the crash and didn’t think much of it….

Until an hour later.

A passerby notified us to the fact that there was broken glass all behind our car and into the street.

“What? Again?” I thought.

I assumed my daughter had taken care of the problem, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Turns out, she did absolutely nothing. She said “It wasn’t my FAULT!!!”

She was correct. I take the blame as I was the one who put that final bag in and I was fully prepared to remove it first before opening the back. I meant to tell the others but forgot. So be it.

But, this is where the discussion came in. Fault is past tense. Responsibility is future tense. Responsibility is our ability to respond.

Sometimes the two can go together, but they’re not necessarily linked.

In this case, it wasn’t her fault that the jars fell out when she opened the back, but it became her responsibility to take care of the mess.

If we’re out walking and come across a person laying on the ground injured, chances are it’s not our fault (I’m sure some of you are thinking of exceptions). Most people would take some sort of responsibility for helping (again, our response based on our ability).

Maybe we call for help. Maybe we just assess the situation and talk to the person to decide the next course of action. Maybe we provide some sort of first aid. Again, it’s our ability to respond. Not our fault, but we can respond with ability.

When someone steals something from us or hurts us in some way, it may not be our fault, but it’s darn sure our responsibility to handle how we react and what we do with it.

If we make a mistake and crash our car into a building, it’s most like a situation where we’re both at fault and we have to take responsibility. It happened and now here’s how we’re going to make it right.

After a long talk, my youngest got up and got a broom and finished cleaning up the mess that others had started cleaning for her.

The more we accept responsibility for situations we’re in on a daily basis, the greater our power becomes. If we choose to take no responsibility, the more we develop a victim mentality.

One is empowering and the other is limiting.

Sometimes things just happen to us or around us, but how we choose to respond defines the type of person we ultimately become.

The more responsibility you take for things around you, the more empowered you become.


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