Jay Rifenbary

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Whatever - Destroying Accountability

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Over the past several years the use of the word “whatever” has become a national obsession as part of our daily conversation. Unknowing to many, “whatever” is having a very debilitating effect on our behaviors, and resulting attitude towards personal and professional responsibility. To tolerate the use of “whatever” among our children only reinforces their lack of understanding about what it means to be accountable for their actions. Why did you lie? “whatever”. Why did you treat your friend with disrespect? “whatever”, and so on. It also substantiates for many children that it is appropriate to pass on blame, and make excuses for failure and disappointment. In our families it is essential not to tolerate its usage, and for parents to set an example of not allowing “whatever” to be used in regard to a decision being made, or a behavior being disciplined.

In our organizations leaders must recognize that the term “whatever” is having a significant impact on effective leadership and management. Frequent use of “whatever” in the workplace only undermines responsibility for failure and achievement, creates a lack of trust, and generates misunderstanding within the organization. It is extremely difficult for a leader to be effective when a “whatever” attitude exists among those being led. How can an organization be as efficient and profitable when its’ employees lack an understanding of the importance of taking accountability for their behaviors and performance? Can you imagine a board of directors of an organization who are in the throws of making an important decision responding to strategic and budgetary questions with “whatever”?

Young people today are yearning for structure and discipline; and admire leaders who demonstrate strength of character and commitment to principles and core values. Peer pressure in our schools continues to be a formidable force in influencing the direction our children take with their lives. A reason for that is you have adults who do not have any idea what they themselves stand for and believe in, have no consistent core values of their own. So, if I as a parent do not understand what I stand for and believe in, how could I possibly expect my children to have any idea what they should stand for and believe in. As a result, there are no parameters of behavior established, the children go to school, allow their friends to dictate how they should behave, so as to artificially enhance their self-esteem.

It is my wish that parents, teachers, leaders and anyone in a position of responsibility set an example not to tolerate the use of “whatever” at anytime when an important decision must be made; or when an individual must be held accountable for inappropriate behaviors or incorrect decisions. The establishment and reinforcement of personal and professional responsibility within our home and workplace, along with a consistent set of core values that guide our behaviors, provide the foundation for a strong and disciplined family unit; and for a productive and profitable work force.



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