From Shame to Responsibility—How a CIO Finds Freedom

Last week in Mexico a CIO courageously told me and the roomful of people I had just introduced to Responsibility Redefined™ that my presentation showed him the way to freedom from his shame. Out of respect, I won’t tell you which presentation in which city (I addressed four groups in three days), but here’s his story…

I’ll repeat his words as best I remember them. He spoke English for my benefit rather than his native Spanish. He began speaking with a gentle, satisfied smile on his face:

I want to share a personal story with you. I have enjoyed a very successful 18-year career. Four months ago I suffered the worst failure of my career—a major mistake.

As he acknowledged this failure, he did not look like a failure. His smile actually expanded, his eyes twinkled, and he beamed expressions of freedom and joy:

Until this morning I had not known how to deal with my failure except through Shame. I assumed there was something wrong with me and I deserved punishment.

After learning about the Responsibility Process™ and the Keys to Responsibility™, and seeing you Christopher demonstrate the ‘pseudo-responsibility’ behaviors of Shame and the behaviors of true Responsibility, I realized I had been stuck in Shame for 4 months.

And I realized I was the one keeping myself there.

I am happy because now I am freed. I can take complete ownership of my mistake.

And then he proudly announced new choices immediately available to him:

My team has been hurting for 4 months. Now I know what to do to help them release their Shame. We will clean up this mess I led us into. We will learn our lessons and we will make amends.

We will be stronger, not as a result of failing, but as a result of acknowledging our honest mistake, and  learning, correcting, and improving as a result.

As you can imagine, you could hear a pin drop on the plush carpet in that room.

I smiled back and said “thank you.” And then I did something else. I beamed a broad smile and I shouted “Congratulations!” I crossed the room to where he was sitting and, standing in front of him, offered two high-fives. He slapped my hands and we laughed together.

I don’t know that everyone in the room understood why the high-fives. Here’s why. Getting yourself over the top from Shame to Responsibility is a huge win, and it deserves acknowledgment, celebration, and even congratulations. This man was reporting a wonderful win to us—a win that happened right there in the room that hour as he learned about Responsibility Redefined™. That deserves more than a mere “thanks for your story.”

Many people are teaching Responsibility Redefined™ now in a variety of settings. If you have similar stories to share, I’d love to read them. Please comment.

Posted in Responsibility on 06/30/2008 05:16 pm
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