Accountability: A Story About Personal Failure?

The LAST shirt has got to be as good as the first. Without exception! 

What in the world are you talking about Tim? Let me explain.

My family owns a T-shirt business. Everyone pitches in and helps. If there’s one thing my boys and my wife get tired of hearing me say, it is this.

We have to focus. The LAST shirt has got to be as good as the first. Without exception!

I’ve been accused of being hyper-focused. I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist. I also understand perfectionism has to be tempered. But…

There is a reason I am hyper-focused when it comes to the work that I do. And it stems from a personal failure in my youth where I was held accountable for my actions.

When I was young, one of the extracurricular activities I participated in was 4H. My favorite category was Electric. I was in the final year of eligibility for Electric and I wanted to achieve the one award that had alluded me, Grand Champion.

I had the perfect project for my final submission, a homemade, electric fan. My Dad monitored me throughout the project. Everything was finished except for adding the plug to the power cord.

Dad had to go to work so I was left to put the plug on by myself. No problem. I had done this before and I was really good at soldering.

The year before I had assembled a short-wave receiver. It required soldering hundreds of components on circuit boards. This was a piece of cake.

The plug is added by tying an underwriter’s knot and then soldering the wires. For whatever reason, and to this day I don’t know why, but I rushed through this step. In hindsight, this had to be the worst soldering job ever!


I submitted my project and anxiously waited for the results. When we went to the fairgrounds to see our projects, I saw a large ribbon on my fan. It was Reserve Grand Champion, second place.

A family friend was assisting the judge for Electric. He told us later that when the judge saw my fan sitting on the table, he said there’s the Grand Champion.

When the judge examined my project, he said everything was great. Then he got to the plug. He told our friend my project would have gotten Grand Champion but he couldn’t award it to me because of the plug.

I missed out on Grand Champion because I had rushed through the easiest part of my project. That was a hard lesson to learn. My Dad blamed himself but there was no one to blame but me.

Did I learn from it? You better believe I did. I had run out of eligibility in Electric but I could still participate in other categories. I took my renewed focus to detail and won Grand Champion in Wildlife.

Since then, I’ve been hyper-focused on everything I do. I never want to repeat that mistake again.

Think about a time where you were held accountable for your actions. It could be a good decision you made that had a positive outcome.

But it’s just as possible and more probable that you were held accountable for a bad decision that you made. And that choice led to a negative outcome.

Daily Doable: It’s easy to be grateful for your successes. But how can you be grateful for your failures? This might require a little thought but be honest with yourself. Don’t play the blame game.

Accept responsibility and be accountable for your actions. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Ask yourself, how can I grow from this so that I won’t repeat it again? How can I do better in the future?

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please SIGN UP BELOW to receive more tips like this.