Responsibility and accountability are more than interesting words; they are principles of life, whether it be in your professional or your personal life. How often have you blamed someone else for the parts of your life that you don’t like? We blame the economy when we overspend, we blame the sports game when we are sleep deprived because we stayed up too late the night before, and we blame our bosses or coworkers when we fail at a task because we didn’t adequately prepare. The list goes on and on. The biggest myth in the American culture today is that someone else is responsible for our quality of life. The real truth is there is only one person responsible for the quality of the life you live. That one person is you.
Accountability is taking ownership for every thought, word and action, as well as experiences, which are the result of those thoughts, words and actions. This ownership has to take place without blaming others and requires giving up all of your excuses, forever. This means you must give up blaming outside circumstances. Instead, if something doesn’t turn out as planned, you have to ask yourself, “How did I create this? What did I say or not say? How did I get the other person to act that way? What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?” You will never become successful as long as you continue to blame something or someone else for your lack of success. Acknowledge the truth and realize that it is you who took the actions, thought the thoughts, created the feelings, and made the choices that got you to where you are now.
Accountability is how we respond to our environment and the events created in it (Event + Response = Outcome). You can choose to blame the event (E) for your lack of results (O) or you can choose to change your response (R) to the event (E) to get the outcome (O) you want. Often times, however we turn to our conditional habits and responses which we have grown accustomed to, and we fail to give up our excuses and once again attribute blame to where it is not warranted.
Another negative behavior you must give up in order to hold yourself accountable is, complaining. Complaining is an ineffective response to an event that does not produce a better outcome. Often times we complain because we think there is a better possibility. We have an image of something that we would prefer but we are unwilling to take the risks to achieve that reality, so we resort to complaining. In all reality, the things we tend to complain about are those things that we can control and change. Have you ever heard someone complain about gravity? When we don’t have control over something, we often accept it and move on.
We also complain because we are uncomfortable and it’s easier to complain to someone else instead of confront the source of the issue. A lot of times we allow things to happen to us by our inaction and our unwillingness to do what is necessary to create or maintain what we want. Why do we do this to ourselves? If we want something, we should strive to achieve it. However, it assumes risk and we are uncomfortable with risk. We need to take responsibility for what happens to us. Taking responsibility means “stepping up” and seeing yourself as the agent of change. Whether it is changing your company or changing the world – it starts with you. In summary, how do we combat the negative behavior of complaining? Learn to replace complaining with making requests and taking action that will achieve your desired outcomes. After all, this is what successful people do.
Be accountable and responsible by taking the steps towards success: face facts squarely; learn to be uncomfortable; be proactive and not reactive; change your behaviors and don’t blame others for your problems. Life becomes much easier when you respond quickly to events as they occur.
Holding yourself accountable requires awareness, discipline, and a willingness to experiment and take risks, but most of all requires the ability to ask and accept feedback from others. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and ask others, “Is what I’m doing working? Could I be doing it better? Is there something more I should be doing that I am not? Is there something I am doing that I should stop doing?” Wouldn’t you rather have the truth then nothing at all? Remember, results don’t lie. Do more of what is working, do less of what isn’t and try on new behaviors to see if they produce better results. Be honest with yourself and once you have done this, you have successfully held yourself accountable.
For more tips on how to address holding yourself accountable, please reference the sources below or call CBS at 785-233-7860. We would be pleased to assist you with your self-development or with any other HR issues your business or organization may be experiencing.
Canfield, Jack. (2015). The Success Principles. New York: HaperCollins.