Dear KES Family:
Years ago I read a book by the Canadian author William Bell entitled Crabbe. The central character is an angst-riddled teenager who discovers strength and truth while struggling to survive in our northern wilderness. At one point he is told that as long as he blames other people (parents, teachers, coaches, the weather, etc.) for the things that happen to him in life, he will never truly grow up. He has to get rid of his “blame list”.
Having a “blame list” is really seductive. Life is so much easier to bear when its hardships are not one’s fault. One does not have to be accountable or responsible if everything that goes wrong can be blamed on someone or something else. To me, this is the difference between being grown up and being stuck in perpetual childhood. It’s the difference between owning and dis-owning our own lives. It is the difference between being a sore loser and a good sport.
With an enviable corporate and personal client list, alumna Jill Payne (1996-02) is a performance coach. This week she had an excellent session with our boarding students and then in a separate session worked with our faculty. She had some transformational things to share with us. At one point she declared: “When weird sh*** is happening to you, you need to look at yourself.” I love this statement because it asks us not to assign blame. It is all about being accountable and taking charge of one’s life, of one’s energy, of one’s path. Of course, random bad and tragic things come our way. That is not our “fault”. However, it is at these times when, more than ever, we need to look at ourselves and how we are going to react and deal with the situation.
At different times this week, seven boys sought me out to apologise for something they had done and to promise me that they would not do it again. They owned their mistake and did not blame anyone else for their actions. They were being accountable and responsible. There was something honorable and adult in their heartfelt words. I was impressed by their response.