The 85 Percent Pollution

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If this column isn’t as good as usual, don’t blame me. I had a rotten childhood; my parents would not buy me any GI Joe action figures so my Barbies had to sit home on prom night. Plus, I think I may have the flu — the swine flu and the flu flu, too, and probably both. I am also not that bright, and I have a lot on my mind — important stuff, like who is going to win America’s Top Chef, and America’s Top Model, and whether any of the participants of Doctor Drew’s new Sex Rehab show have dates for New Year’s Eve.

With all these serious problems clogging up my teeny, tiny mind, it’s clear that I can not be responsible for the teeny, tiny words that clog up this column. I hope you understand, because Linda Galindo does not.

Galindo is the author of “The 85 Percent Solution,” a late entry in 2009’s publishing derby of books designed to provide self-help for your self-loathing. The subtitle of the tome, “How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success” is your first clue to the philosophy being espoused and exposed. And if the message is not sufficiently clear, the cluttered cover also features sub-subtitles, including “No Nonsense. No Excuses” and “The Buck Stops Here.” (Actually twenty-two and 95/100th of a buck stop here, unless you live in Canada in which case you have to shell out an additional Lincoln to have the author berate you for your pathetic proclivity to hide behind endless excuses.)

“Acknowledge, believe and act on the fact that you, and you alone, are 100 percent responsible for your own successes, opportunities, and happiness,” the author explains. “Like you, and you alone, are 100 percent responsible for your own failures, problems, and bad mood. You and your choices.”

Now you do have to acknowledge that you have made some bad career choices. Deciding to go to the company Halloween party in a bikini instead of a burka was definitely a bad choice, and, let’s face it, those slim and sleek suits that look so good on Don Draper in Mad Men just don’t look half as stylish with someone whose stomach overflows his belt like a muffin top.

If you refuse to take 100 percent responsibility for your life, author Galindo does offer a compromise. “If 100 percent is “too big a leap,” she writes, “start at 85 percent.”

Galindo, a former “Queen of Victims,” had to learn how to “own it,” and she wants you to “own all of it, even if you’re working for or with someone else.” This won’t be easy for you, since I know you prefer to “lease it.” That way, when work assignments go sour, you can trade in your failures and let someone else take the blame.

The reason you take this cowardly course, of course, is because you live on what Galindo calls “Planet What Should Be,” while she resides on “Planet What Is.” In Galindo’s cosmology you could also live on “Planet Guilt,” or in “the Land of Finger-Pointing and Blaming.” According to The 85 Percent Solution it’s better to take the blame yourself, rather than fingering a friend. No matter how serious and career-ending a situation may be, Galindo insists, stand up and take 85 percent to 100 percent of the blame…and the consequences.

That’s what I call living on Planet Jerk, but don’t fret. You’ll soon inhabit a permanent space station on Planet Unemployed.

Throughout the book Galindo provides handy-dandy self-evaluations so you can calculate just how responsible you are, as well as the degree that you are empowering yourself and taking personal accountability. I’m all for empowerment, but the author’s price is awfully steep. “Do you spend too much time sitting in your chair, watching too much TV, eating too many potato chips,” she asks. Well, of course, you do! What else are you supposed to do at work? Work?

You are also called to “Get Off the Gossip-Go-Round.” “Instead of talking (SET ITAL) about (END ITAL) your colleagues,” she suggests, “talk (SET ITAL) to (END ITAL)them.”   This is truly a silly and dangerous idea. What comes next — listening to them?

I know I’ve been rather negative about The 85 Percent Solution, and I take ownership for my snarky nature. I know you join me in wanting the book to be a huge success. After all, the more people who stand up to take responsibility for all the disasters in our workplace, the less chance management will ever find out the real people to blame is us.


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