Call A Spade A Spade or Own Your Shit

Published by Christopher Starr on

My brother calls a spade a spade when he sees it.

He has the uncanny ability to say what he needs to say, when he needs to say it, and consequences be damned. There’s not enough of that going on these days, this brutal honesty. Many of us hide behind political correctness or an aversion to conflict and use noncommittal jargon to smooth things over even when unhappy news needs to be shared. We shy away from saying what should be said, when it needs to be said. When it would be best.

He said something to me I didn’t appreciate. He told me I needed to “own my shit.”

He was right.


I’ve learned that the things people say to us, about us, the stuff that really sticks in our craws (I just wanted to use the word craw), the stuff that burns us up and has us blowing our tops in rage—that stuff tends to stick with us because it’s true. Because it’s true. Because someone had the audacity to highlight the thing about ourselves we like the least. This was one of those times.

I could call it a miscommunication or brush it off as a misunderstanding. What I was trying to do and what actually happened were two different things. I was screwing things up when trying to make them better and the even though my intentions where good…well…I wrote a whole book about what happens with good intentions (you can even buy it here).

Anyway, he told me I needed to own my shit. That I needed to take responsibility for my actions. I took particular exception to that. But after stomping around my house for 3 days, I started to see where he was coming from. Fine. I get it. Take responsibility. Fine. Own your shit. Yeah yeah yeah.

When I was a kid, my mother used to characterize our personalities in terms of ass-kicking (don’t ask me why—if you know my mom, it makes sense). She would say, “Your brother will tell you he’s gonna kick your ass and then do it. Right then. Your sister will tell she’s gonna kick your ass but not tell you when. But you, Chris, you won’t say shit. You’ll just walk up and kick somebody’s ass and they’ll never know why.” I used to think that was compliment. Thought it was some kind of Clint Eastwood-Marshall Dillon-law of the west-cowboy-ride off into the sunset kind of stuff. It’s not. It’s action without reason—there’s no ownership in it. Now I get it.

What’s my point, you ask? At the beginning of this year, I set some goals and made them pretty plain for everyone to see. Write this blog every other day. 2 book reviews per month. Do freaking P90X on a daily basis. Be about my shit. I missed my targets, at least for January. I’ve written 10 blogs but it should be 15, will complete 1 book review, and really don’t want to discuss my love-hate relationship with P90X. Hate is winning right now.

I didn’t own my goals like I should have.

Owning up to something and owning it are two different things. One of them requires an admission of responsibility; the other turns that responsibility into action. It’s both recognizing the error of your ways AND making changes to ensure it never happens again.

I made amends with my brother (well, I’m working on it). And I’m carving out time to be more diligent about my blog postings, my book reviews, and my exercise. And yesterday, after a dog bit my kid, I told the owner that if the Boy and the dog were in the same place at the same time again, I’d kill it myself. Owning my goals, my intentions, and my words.

Owning my shit.


Leslie Smith · January 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Gotta do better myself…I’m with you on this one. Your brother always did speak his mind and leave the world in his wake.

Vonda Norwood · January 30, 2012 at 12:53 am

LOLOL You and that exercise thing!!! Kills me!!! Too funny. 😀 “Owning it”. We all could take a lesson from your brother. Not necessarily exactly like him. Or you, or me or whomever. We all relate to our worlds differently and is needed to make them go ’round. No one way is exactly correct, but it’s nice to see that you can appreciate the excellence in your brother’s “Spade is a spade” qualities.
I’d prefer for someone to tell me that they’re gonna kick my ass and then do it. I like that. It’s straight forward, honest and no bones. Not that I want my ass kicked.
Sometimes it’s not about what you do about the “shit” in life, but it’s about how you go about doing it. Maybe there’s a happy medium in life. I don’t know. But I do love your “Spade is a spade”!!!
You are a great communicator. Can really feel your pain. Which is good. For the reader. 😀
Thank you for sharing!!!
And don’t forget, you gotta write a fictional story in first person. LOLOL
It would be great!!! Really!!!
I gotta go email Amazon again. That’s me owning my shit or at least trying to.

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