Sooner or later, you’ve got to own your own junk …

The Chief Executive Officer of a company had made a terrible blunder. It wasn’t his first, and this time he knew it would likely cost him his job.

Sure enough, that afternoon he was called before the board of directors and was told he had the remainder of the afternoon to clear out his office, he was being replaced.

The executive packed a box of his personal belongings, and as he sat at the large, opulent desk for the last time, he took out three envelopes and began to make some notes. He then numbered the envelopes one, two, and three.

As he sealed the last envelope, a sharply dressed man entered the office, introduced himself, and explained that he was the new CEO.

“I’m sorry you got sacked,” the new boss said. “But if you don’t mind me asking, do you have any advice for me?”

“I do,” the executive said. “Regardless of how good you are at this job, you will make mistakes. When you do,” he then paused and handed the new boss the three envelopes, “open one of these and follow the advice I’ve left for you.”

The new CEO thanked the executive, then they shook hands and parted ways.

For a while, things not only went well, but improved for the company. The new CEO was a brilliant leader and his leadership helped the company gain new clients and make greater profits.

For a while.

But being human, the CEO finally made his first mistake. When he did, he opened the first envelope the former CEO had left for him and read the simple note that stated, “Blame me.”

“Great advice!” thought the executive, so he went to the board and blamed the leadership of the former CEO for the current problem. The board bought the excuse, and so things went forward without any further discussion.

Eventually, the CEO made another mistake. When he did, he opened the second envelope and read the note, which advised him, “Blame the board.”

“Great advice!” thought the executive, so he met with the board and made an argument that the current problem was really their fault. The board actually accepted the argument, and the CEO was relieved to get past the problem.

But it didn’t take very long before the CEO made a third mistake. When he did, he quickly opened the last envelope the former boss had left for him. The note inside stated, “Prepare three envelopes.”

You may get by blaming others for your mistakes for a while, but that will last only so long before you will inevitably have to own your own junk. The decisions you make and the actions you take are yours, and the responsibility for them will always catch up with you at some point.

You’re more likely to be able to overcome your mistakes and failures if you own them from the start instead of trying to pass the buck. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to focus on our own responsibility …

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct,” Galatians 6:4-5.

Sometimes circumstances interfere in our lives in ways beyond our control. But we can control the decisions we make and the actions we take. Are you taking responsibility for them? Or are you trying to blame others for your mistakes and failures?