Australians are notoriously frank in their communications. If you’re not used to the directness of their language, it may seem a bit jarring
I remember the first time I heard Phil Kells ask the following question, “How do you eat a shit sandwich, Jeffery?” (It’s best if you try to hear that with an NSW Australian accent.) It was in the wake of a mistake we had made with a client, a miscommunication, one that was clearly our fault and needed to be 100% owned by our team, and one that would create a lot more work for us.
I replied, “I don’t know, Phil, how do you eat a shit sandwich?” His response was simple and communicated clearly that we shared the same values around this topic.
“You don’t nibble.”
I wish more people felt the same way. We seem to be living in a time of increased lack of personal accountability. Highly visible leaders are consistently shown passing the buck in attempts to rid themselves of any responsibility for the problems they cause, regardless of role.
Yesterday I missed a 6 pm call with a company in China. I wasn’t late. I missed the meeting entirely. I didn’t realize it until I got out of bed at 4 am this morning.
I’ll admit it was tempting to go into the all of the mitigating details of why I missed the call, to deflect my complete responsibility. There was an array. The call was “below the fold” on my computer screen when I checked my calendar one last time before heading to help with dinner. I don’t take a lot of late afternoon calls, because my clients are mostly based in Europe now. I didn’t see the Skype notification, because I turn my notifications off when I’m helping with the family stuff. Does any of that really matter?
No. And even though it was just a tiny sandwich, something more akin to a shit slider, I knew that explaining any of that without taking full responsibility was not the right play. It never is. That’s nibbling. Nibbling can’t become a habit.
“This is 100% my fault.”
Those are some of the most powerful words in the English language. They should probably be preceded by, I’m sorry. Those words instantly send a message that you’re willing
I’ve never seen a perfect project. I’ve never worked on a perfect team. I make mistakes every single day. I expect that others will as well. And one thing I know for sure when I hear a string of excuses coming from the other side of the table – the relationship is changed. Even the tiny excuses, absent full ownership, alter the depth of the communication and the quality of the relationship moving forward.
Have you made yourself a shit sandwich lately? Don’t try to pass it off for something it’s not. Just pick it up and eat it. And I’d recommend taking