It really wasn’t my fault. It probably isn’t your fault either.
I always joke i was born 9 pounds and never looked back. I gained weight from the moment I was born until I was over 300 pounds. Say what you want, I don’t blame myself. I was raised in a home that considered cream-corn a vegetable and hot chocolate with white toast a solid breakfast. I grew up going to grocery stores where whole fruit and vegetables were completely out of reach while boxes of rainbow-colored surgery cereals with cartoons on the box and prizes inside sat at arms reach for me to easily grab and put in the cart for mom (who always let me have a box).
I was born into a system that created my sugar/fat/salt addiction. That isn’t my fault. The fact that it wasn’t my fault didn’t preclude me from receiving the consequences of my poor health (high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, etc.).
Our lack of health may not be our fault, but we still will reap the consequences no matter how good of a person we are and how much we desire to make the world a better place. True in life and true in leadership.
I used to get frustrated around dysfunctional leadership, but now I can see that many leaders are simply the 300 pound version of me–taught very early to believe their dysfunctional ways are actually “best practices,” and completely ignorant of the destructive wake they leave, all while full of good intentions.
No need to blame them any more, because after losing nearly 150 pounds I have empathy. I believe anyone can change. I believe dysfunctional leaders who have never known any other way, can learn to lead a new way. Most will try a leadership development fad, fail, and return to their dysfunctional ways because it was easier. Blaming the book, the program or the conference as not being “practical enough” or “too fluffy.”
The problem is much more simple and yet ruthlessly difficult, the fact is that it isn’t your fault, and yet still the problem is you.