Volume 40,   Issue 10                          October  2005


So, Who's to Blame?

by Lyle R. Hill

Even though he sometimes wears this silly-looking Cleveland Indians jersey around the office … you know the one with the big-toothed Indian smiling at you? I like him. But what can you expect … the guy is from Cleveland and when you’re from a place like Cleveland you have to display your civic pride whenever you get the chance. Cause you see, those chances aren’t gonna come your way very often. I’ve been to Cleveland … twice in fact … and I have no real interest in going back soon. Unless, of course, the Cuyahoga River catches on fire again … that might be worth seeing. 

When I think of Cleveland—and let me state very clearly right here and now that it is not often—I think of two things. First is that toothy Indian … with one feather in his headband, which makes no sense whatsoever to me … and second is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was built, to the shock of virtually every person in the world, in Cleveland. 

Maybe the reason I like him is because he’s one of those guys with a built-in, positive attitude … a little corny sometimes … but overall, kinda refreshing. And once a week, whether things are going good or bad … whether the Indians have beat up on the White Sox or vice-versa … he tapes a little “Thought for the Week” sign in his office window that can be read by all. 

And though I hate to admit it, I have developed the habit of stopping by each week to see what has been posted. And one of those postings, from a few weeks ago, has caused me to do a lot of thinking. It read as follows:

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.” — Wayne Dyer.

After an initial quick read of this, I thought it was somewhat trite. Very Cleveland if you will. But I read it a few more times … his office is between my office and the men’s washroom … and I started thinking about what was really being said. Then it hit me … maybe I was guilty. Guilty of playing the blame game. Maybe I’ve been ignoring my own shortcomings by blaming others. I also thought about the words of Robert Bloch who said “The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone else he can blame it on.” And all of this caused me a great deal of introspection. Even a bit of self doubt.

After a fair amount of pondification … for the uninformed, pondification is the act of pondering a matter with serious discernment … I decided to do further research on the subject of blame. And I was amazed at what I found. Maybe I shouldn’t have been when you stop to think that the practice of blaming has been artfully practiced since that little situation back in the Garden of Eden. It seems that all kinds of people have offered up an opinion on the subject, but, without doubt, the trend of the last decade or two has been to avoid blame. The current thinking seems to be that blame is hurtful, useless and not worthy of our time. Pretty much in keeping with what our friend from Cleveland had posted on his window. 

But now, after several hours of analysis and introspection, I have decided that I need to buck the trend and take a position. And my position is that blame is good! And here’s why. You see, we only get better by solving our problems … and to solve a problem, we need to identify what caused the problem. In other words, we need to identify who or what is responsible … who or what is at fault … and then fix or change it. 

How can this be done if we do not identify the source and affix blame where it belongs? Personally, I’m kinda tired of defensive, pass the buck, “it wasn’t my fault” kinda people. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be patient, shouldn’t be understanding or reasonable. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t continually be forced to put up with mediocrity. We need to identify our problems … affix blame if you will … and then fix them. We all need to become better at being responsive and responsible for our actions and if a little blame helps get that done, then I say let the blame begin. 

OK. There you have it, and if you didn’t like it, blame the guy from Cleveland. He’s the one who got me started on all of this. And why does that Indian only have one feather? Who’s to blame for that? 

The Author:
Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago.  lhill@mthindustries.com

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