Jason Lauritsen - Crushing talent dogma to free human potential

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Three Powerful Words

“It’s on me.”

That’s what a leader says when things go wrong.

Earlier this week, the Boston Red Sox lost an important game.  They had been in a position to win when they brought in their ace closing pitcher, Jonathan Papelbon to pitch the last 5 outs of the game.  Papelbon generally closes out the last 3 outs of the game and he had successfully saved the game in 30 or his last 31 chances.  But, this time was different.  Things didn’t go well for Papelbon and the Red Sox lost the game.

After the game, here’s what Papelbon said about the game:

“Unacceptable,” Papelbon said. “The way I’ve been throwing the ball, I’ve got to go out there and execute. I didn’t do that, and by me not going out there and executing 0-2 pitches, I let my team down. I’ll shoulder that and take full responsibility, and I’ll be ready to go tomorrow. It’s plain and simple.” 

Those are the words of a leader.  Certainly, Papelbon’s performance had a major impact on the outcome of the game, but he wasn’t the only reason they lost.  Had the team scored more runs, they would have won.  Had the Rex Sox played a little better defense overall, they would have won.  But, Papelbon didn’t point at any of that.  He pointed to himself and said, “It’s on me.”  He took more than his share of the blame for this loss which is what leaders do.  He took the blame for the loss so the team could move on.  And it makes me respect him as a leader, and I’m guessing his teammates feel the same way.

 Next time things go wrong, instead of looking around for who’s to blame, try these three words.

“It’s on me.”

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  1. Sonia Di Maulo

    Very powerful post, Jason. Taking full responsibility is something a lot of people feel very uncomfortable doing… perhaps we've been conditioned to never take the blame… accepting responsibility without pointing fingers (especially when things go terribly wrong) is very hard and an indication of a true leader. Agreed!

  2. Carol Carter

    Excellent article! True leadership on display.

  3. Shawn Murphy

    Jason, Indeed important words for those who want to lead with integrity and provoke good things within teams, organizations.

    And got to love sports providing great insights on leadership.


Jason Lauritsen