What I’ve Learned About Accountability: It’s Being Your Best

by Enoon Gnihton

Would you enjoy having more peace of mind and fulfillment in your life? If so, are you prepared to be accountable for making it happen? Peace and fulfillment do not come about by waiting for the right circumstance, the right person, or the right time. It requires a proactive comment to realizing your personal vision of a fulfilling life. A commitment to being accountable (committing to a commitment) means that you have the courage to assume full responsibility for your own happiness. It means that there is no finger pointing, faulting, or blaming anyone or anything for your life situation. It means no excuses, no passing the buck, and no being a victim of circumstances.

Being self-accountable requires the courage to look into the mirror and assign responsibility to the face that you see staring back at you. The most important commitment that a person can make is to be accountable to themselves for their lives, their achievements, their successes, and their failures. It requires the bravery to admit mistakes, the wisdom to learn from them, and the satisfaction of knowing that you gave it your absolutely best effort.

Accountability for Failure

Being accountable does not mean that you will be able to successfully complete every commitment that you make. It is not at all unusual for unforeseen circumstances to interfere with or to completely nullify our ability to fulfill our obligations to ourselves and to others. It is up to us to ensure that If circumstances prevent us from keeping a promise that it was not due to a failure of effort. The greatest obligation for us is to ensure that we have done everything within our power and abilities to honor our promises.

Every commitment “failure” contains both a lesson and an opportunity. An important aspect of accountability is the use of good judgment in making commitments. Before we commit to do something we need to ensure that we have the sincere desire, the resources, and the ability to fulfill our commitment. Making a commitment simply because it was expected or because we were reluctant to say “no” does not inspire the dedication, enthusiasm, and energy that are required to follow through and make good on our pledge. Being accountable requires integrity, credibility, and trustworthiness. It demands the fostering of an attitude of confidence in our ability to be honest and true to ourselves and to others.

It means that even if you fail in keeping your commitment that you hold yourself answerable to yourself for understanding the reason for the failure. If the failure was beyond your control, learn to fully appreciate and to anticipate any circumstances that can intervene to prevent your success. If the failure was under your control we need to understand whether it was due to making an inappropriate commitment, or any other reason why we failed to make good. Be very aware of any tendency to resort to excuses, blame, or finger pointing. If there is an opportunity to make good on the same commitment, be sure that you have learned how to prevent a recurrence of failure. Even if we fail, knowing and acknowledging that we did out best is being accountable.

An Accountability Test

An excellent way to assess your level of accountability is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I consistently keep my commitments and promises to others and myself?

  • If I fail to keep a promise or commitment to what or whom do I attribute the failure.

  • Am I reliable and trustworthy? Can people count on me to keep my word? Can I count on me?

Being Accountable is Empowering

The good news is that we are also accountable for our successes and achievements. Virtually no one is averse to being accountable for success. When we succeed in keeping our commitments it enhances our self-esteem and confidence. It also enhances our out ability to keep our promises in the future.

 “It wasn’t my fault” may get you off the hook this time, but you do so at the cost of surrendering your personal power to situations and circumstances. Accountable people are empowered by the fact that “The buck stops here”. Accountability inspires a sense of control over your destiny and a commitment to do your best to follow through on your promises.

Avoiding a Victim Mentality

Being accountable is the opposite of being a victim. A victim mentality gives away your power to other people, circumstances, and situations.

One definition of victim describes the state of “suffering harm by someone or something”. Certainly harm can come to us from various sources. The difference between a victim and a committed and empowered person is that the empowered person desires to understand their own contribution to the situation that caused harm in order to prevent future occurrences. Things happen. But be sure that you are not contributing to the situation that caused harm.

Another definition of a victim describes “a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance”. The greatest emotional barrier to commitment is fear - being afraid to make a commitment due to a dread of failing to deliver on our promise. Ignorance can cause us to make commitments that are not in our best interest. Ignorance of the possible barriers to keeping our commitment can generate failures simply because we failed to foresee obvious pitfalls lying in our path. It is a failure if we neglect to ask “what will happen if…” We can easily become victims of our uninformed desire to please or satisfy someone without full consideration of the possible adverse consequences to ourselves.

How to be More Accountable

Being accountable is not conditional (“I will be accountable if…..”). You are either accountable or you are not accountable. You are responsible or you are not responsible. If you are not responsible for your happiness, then what or whom is responsible. To whom or what are you giving away your power to succeed. If it is someone or something other than yourself, you have given away your power to situations and circumstances. This does not mean that you will fail. It only means that if you succeed, it is not your fault. You succeeded in spite of your lack of commitment. That kind of success is usually short-lived and is difficult to repeat. A core element of accountability is reliability. It is being someone whom you can consistently count on.

Measure yourself by your actions, and intentions. If you fail to keep a commitment to yourself or to someone else you must understand why. Did you really desire to make the commitment, or was it the result of compulsion, coercion, or pressure? Did you really understand your ability and desire to fulfill the commitment? Did you fully assess the consequences and costs of not keeping your commitment?

If you would like to improve your ability to keep your commitments consider the following:

  • Cultivate within yourself an attitude of trust and accountability for fulfilling your life vision and goals

  • Develop self-confidence, assurance, and self-reliance by being a trustworthy and reliable resource to yourself and to others

  • Do not make significant commitments lightly. Be fully aware of what will be required to fulfill your promise, and be sure that you are prepared to follow through to make it happen

  • Start small - Confidence builds with success. If you find that you have difficulty keeping commitments, start making small, easy to meet commitments and build from there.

  • Discipline - Train yourself to recognize opportunities to enhance your accountability; be fully aware of the consequences of failing to meet your commitments to yourself.

  • Trust yourself and your integrity - Trust is the foundation of confidence resulting from being good to your word; it requires an adherence to moral and ethical principles and soundness of moral character and honesty

Accountability is Being Your Best

Being accountable for fulfilling your vision of a fulfilling life firstly means having a clear mental picture of what a fulfilling life means to you. A fulfilling life should not be about getting. A fulfilling life is about being. It is personifying the qualities and values of sincerity, integrity, dependability, and honesty. A true commitment to these values will never leave you disappointed. It is about making and keeping your commitments to yourself and to others. Accountability is not just doing your best, but being your best. You owe it to yourself.

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