September 1, 2001
In this issue:
Newsbrief: Advertisers Invited to Sponsor New Radio Show
Newsbrief: University of San Francisco to Host Dialogues
Editorial: “Who Me? Pinning the Blame on Everyone But Myself,” by John Renesch
Newsbrief: Writers Workshop Offered for First-Time Authors
Next Month: “Learning From Ants: Getting Evolved”
Advertisers Invited to Sponsor New Radio Show
John will be hosting a one-hour weekly radio program on KBZS-AM, the only business, finance and technology-focused radio station in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley market. This weekly show will feature interviews of business leaders, academics and professionals who have experienced some personal transformation which they are willing to share with the show’s listeners. Entitled “Journeys: Stories of Personal Transformation from the Business World” the show will also be available on the Internet and, eventually, syndicated for other markets. Advertisers interested in purchasing commercial airtime for “Journeys” first thirteen week segment should contact John at 415-437-6974
University of San Francisco to Host Dialogues
The Presidio Dialogues – which John founded late last year and hosts each month in the Presidio of San Francisco – will be holding its first public gathering outside of its regular monthly schedule and location. “Spirit Matters at Work” is the theme for the September 12 Dialogues at the U.S.F. campus and guest presenters include U.S.F. President Stephen Privett, Rabbi Michael Lerner (Editor of Tikkun magazine) and Episcopalian priest Whitney Roberson. More information about the program or to signup, call Carol Coltan at 415- 457-3970. The Program starts at 7 PM.
(This editorial is a follow-on to the past two months columns; if you wish to review past issues of Better Future NEWS, go to Archives)
What do children tend to do whenever they get caught red-handed doing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing? Usually, they point their fingers at their sister or brother, or anyone else who’s handy – blaming them in order to escape whatever consequences might in store for them. Or they insist against overwhelming evidence to the contrary that it wasn’t their doing – that something or someone forced them to do it. Phrases like “He made me do it!” or “I couldn’t help it” are commonplace excuses for kids. As we grow up, however, we’re supposed to become accountable for our actions – to accept the consequences of our choices. You know, like adults!
Most of humanity, at least those living in the so-called “civilized” world, still seek someone to blame for circumstances which they created themselves. This adolescent sidestepping of personal responsibility is totally consistent with the maturity level we humans have achieved this far along in our evolution. As a species, we are still in our collective adolescence – as can be observed by watching human behavior throughout the industrialized world. Wars, politics, over-indulgences of all types, and short-term thinking all reflect less than emotionally mature mindstates.
Like children who point fingers and avoid accountability for having done anything “wrong,” humans have a habit of pretending the aren’t making certain choices that they are clearly making every day.
Take the person who complains about their job, or their employer, or their organization, or their client. They talk and act as if they have no choice in the matter – as if they are victims who somehow became enslaved in the relationship. It’s almost as if they were ensnared or trapped or forced into servitude.
Since they have grown older, they have a more “grown-up way” of avoiding responsibility. They resort to cynicism about the state of their lives, or their careers, rationalizing their situation as if they have no choice. Many enroll others in their viewpoint so they feel some camaraderie in their cynicism.
But they do have choices. We all do. And pretending that we don’t is a big lie, a lie that costs us dearly. And every time we don’t choose to improve things, we are in effect choosing the circumstances we claim not to want.
Back in the human potential movement days circa 1975 or so, someone once said that we either have what we want or the reason why we don’t. We humans are terrific at having reasons for everything, especially why our lives aren’t the way we’d like them. Every time we blame our organizations about situations we don’t like, or point to the company leaders and find fault with them, we dis-empower ourselves. Every time we transfer the responsibility of our work lives to another party we are giving away our power, casting our victimhood in bronze. Is it any wonder then that so many people feel powerless over changing their job situations?
This denial is bound to result in reduced self-esteem, lowered self-respect, and all the subsequent behaviors people carry out in order to avoid acknowledging their diminished self-worth. So we over-work, over-eat, over-drink, over-watch TV, over-everything – trying to avoid the truth: we are responsible for our experience. If we want things to be different, then change them. Or leave. If we are choosing a situation and we don’t like it, at least acknowledge we are making the choice and own it! We can admit selling out, or making stupid choices, but at least we are now telling the truth and not pretending we have no role in our own circumstances.
As Gary Zukav reminds us in The Seat of the Soul, every choice has a consequence. All we need to do is realize this and own our choices (and face the consequences) instead of pretending that we didn’t make them.
If we want a “better future” than the “default future” we are headed for, then we need to end this denial of our own roles in our realities – and take responsibility for the choices that we’ve made and continue to make every day that we don’t make new choices.
This may sound harsh, or too strongly worded for some. In my radio commentaries for Wisdom Radio and my various op-ed pieces, I usually get some flack when I talk this way. Some people get really pissed – which is my way of knowing that I’m close to a nerve. Interestingly, most of these people seem to argue passionately for their limitations, explaining why they are in the trap they find themselves in. They tell me that I’m insensitive about people who have children to feed and can’t afford to make waves for fear that they will be fired and end up not being able to provide for their families.
If this is why someone is tolerating a situation, then why not simply own it – tell themselves that this is the trade-off and stop complaining and blaming others. Admit that they made a contract – trading some sense of security for doing something that isn’t ideal – and accept the situation rather than pretending that someone else is doin’ them wrong! It just ain’t so!
If you’d like to take issue with me, I invite your retorts (they may even become fodder for a future issue).
Writers Workshop Offered for First-Time Authors
Rick Benzel, a colleague of John’s from the mid-1990s when he was Publisher at New Leaders Press, will be joining him in co-leading a one-day workshop for new authors. Rick is a former editor with Jeremy Tarcher & Co./Putnam who presently does freelance editing and ghost-writing. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday, November 12, near the San Francisco Airport, and the cost is $250 before October 8, $275 after October 8, and $295 at the door. For more information call John at 415-437-6974 and he’s send you all the details by email.
About John Renesch
Better Future NEWS is prepared monthly by John Renesch, a San Francisco writer, futurist, and consultant/executive coach. John served as Editor-in-Chief of The New Leaders business newsletter from 1990 to 1997 and has created a dozen business anthologies on progressive business subjects, including consciousness, intuition and leadership. These books include New Traditions in Business, Learning Organizations and The New Bottom Line. His latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing.
John is also an international keynote SPEAKER, having addressed audiences in Tokyo, Seoul, London, Brussels, Budapest as well as many cities throughout the U.S. For a list of all the SERVICES John offers, go to Services.