3 Envelopes

The story goes that the new CEO was taking over and meeting with the exiting CEO about some final details. The former CEO said he had 3 sealed envelopes prepared, numbered and placed in the desk of the new CEO.  Only upon any major mistakes as CEO was he to open them, and then in order. Well, after a few months, it happened – first big mistake!  He went to the desk, pulled out the first envelope, opened it, and it said, “Blame me.”  So, he put it all on the decisions of the previous leadership, and everyone bought it.

About six months later, he made his second major mistake and again proceeded to the desk for wisdom.  The second envelope read, “Blame the board,” and he did. After all, much like the former CEOs policies, the existing board members were also inherited.  This advice worked just as well.

Then, about a year later, he made his third major mistake.  That last envelope was opened and provided the following masterful advice:  “Prepare three envelopes!”

Perhaps if he didn’t open that first envelope, he wouldn’t have had the need to apply the wisdom of the third envelope! The blame game rarely works, and when it does, it really doesn’t.  Instead of blaming, denying or giving excuses – the latter of which may be the worst – it’s time to lead. It’s time to accept ownership, take responsibility and be accountable.  Choose that path, and you’ll feel better, grow faster, and ultimately gain the respect of those around you.

Here are three great answers to memorize and watch for: “Yes, sir!”; “No, sir!”; “No excuse, sir!”