Take Responsibility for your Actions

Sometimes writing a weekly blog is a challenge, some weeks it almost writes itself. This week the latter is true.

I heard on the radio yesterday, then read in the paper today, the story of the $ 22 000.00 Cell Phone Bill incurred by the 12 year old son of a family vacationing in Mexico. The son got a sunburn and stayed in the room for three days watching videos and gaming, thereby running up the bill. The father is outraged at the Cell Phone Company.

In a similar vein, I spoke with a business owner a few weeks ago who wanted to sue on an invoice that was 26 months overdue. No payments had been made since the invoice was delivered over two years ago. As a result of the limitation period in Ontario, the business owner was no longer able to sue. The owner told me that it was not fair that a law suit was no longer possible and the debtor had taken advantage of the business.

My answer to both of the above situations is: stop blaming others.

I have a child who has had access to cell phones since 10 years of age. That child has had drilled into them the cost of data and the fact you cannot use anything except WiFi if we are out of Canada. That child has also been taught how to turn off data roaming and the issue is discussed more than once every time we’re about to head south of the border. Not surprisingly, I have never had an unpleasant cell phone surprise.

With respect to the business that didn’t sue for over 2 years, that is just bad financial management. Our firm’s 30-60-90 Sue program wouldn’t let the receivable go that long. Banks won’t finance receivables past 90 days – why should a business? A debtor holding out payment for over two years didn’t take advantage of a business, the business let the debtor not pay for far too long.

When I pointed the above out to the business owner, my sense was I was the first person who had ever told them that they were responsible for their actions. I suppose in the future I may be giving the same shocking revelation to the child who racked up the cell phone bill the father is now complaining about and teaching his child the valuable lesson of “it’s not your fault, blame others.”

Taking responsibility for your personal actions and the actions of your business is important in order to succeed in life and business. The sooner that lesson is learned, the better.

Inga B. Andriessen JD