The Power of Accountability

Bill Abbate

Many of us go through our days with more to do than time allows. There is always that next thing, that next project we need to tackle. Our minds can become so preoccupied with all we have to do that we give little time to think about what we could and should do. Why is this? Let’s find out.

The power of accountability

Did you know there is real power in accountability? What is accountability exactly? I love the concise definition of the word in the Oxford Languages dictionary:

“accountability — noun: the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.”

Accountability is more than being responsible for something. It is also about being responsible for ourselves and what we do or do not do. As is true for responsibility, the more you are willing to be accountable, the more mature you become.

Things have not changed much in the last 300 years since a well-known playwright and actor wrote:

“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we areaccountable.” Molière (1622–1673)

Accountable for what?

A great way to view accountability is how it connects with its synonym, responsibility. While similar, they are not the same. You are always accountable for taking care of that for which you are responsible. And you are also always responsible for what you are accountable for, or at least you should be. Unfortunately, it is common for people to shirk their responsibility so they can’t be held accountable and vice versa.

Furthermore, accountability and responsibility give you ownership of whatever “it” is. One of the most winning coaches in college basketball history stated this well.

“Responsibility equals accountability equalsownership. And a sense of ownership is themost powerful weapona team or organization can have.” Pat Summitt (1952–2016)

One way to translate Summitt’s statement is to own the accountability for whatever you are responsible for. This ownership gives you incredible power if you accept it.

Let’s look at some of the more important things we are responsible for and, therefore, accountable to maintain. We may pay little attention to or neglect some altogether. They include our:

  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Finances
  • Home
  • Vehicles
  • Ongoing education
  • Family and friends
  • Career
  • Retirement funding

What would you add to this list?

“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge theconsequencesof dodging our responsibilities.”Josiah Stamp (1880–1941)

Each of the above represents a significant area for which most of us are accountable. While this accountability is about ourselves, the likelihood you will follow through on them becomes stronger when you are accountable to someone else.

Being accountable to someone

If you evade a responsibility, you disown it, whatever “it” is. Many people will not accept responsibility because they do not want to be accountable to themselves or anyone else. By doing this, they attempt to avoid ownership of the outcome created. If there ever was an immature way to be, this is it.

You may get by with being irresponsible when you are a teen, but you are not that young, are you? As an adult, especially if you have a family, it is irresponsible to neglect those things you know you should do and for which you are accountable.

If you are an adult and do not want to be accountable, you may want to seek therapy. Perhaps there is some deep-seated reason you neglect your responsibility and accountability for the important things in life. If there is no such problem, and you neglect your responsibilities, I suggest you grow up.Yes, I am challenging some of you to become a mature adult. All of us must do so at some point or suffer the consequences!

The simple steps to changing from not doing those things you need to do are to:

  • Become aware of what you are neglecting.
  • Commit to doing something about it.
  • Hold yourself accountable, or even better, find someone who will help you remain accountable.
  • Firmly commit to becoming responsible, mature, and taking charge of your life!

Yes, I mention committing twice. The most crucial thing you can do is make a firm commitment. Without committing to do something, you will do nothing. Unfortunately, this is just human nature.

Put some teeth in your actions by committing and taking a bite out of at least one of those significant areas listed above today! Find someone, such as your spouse, boss, colleague, friend, or other accountability partner, who will hold you accountable.

“There are only two options regarding commitment; you’re eitherinor you’reout.” Pat Riley (1945-present)

Doing the things you have been ignoring is not something you can wish yourself into. The only way to get it done is to develop a fuller understanding of its importance, doing the mature thing of accepting responsibility, owning it, and becoming accountable to yourself and someone else.

“No individual can achieve worthy goals without accepting accountability for his or her own actions.” Dan Miller (c. 1954-present)

Final thoughts

For my regular readers, I believe you are responsible, accountable people. This article is for those on the fence who have not fully matured. If you are one of them, I hope it will move you to the mature side of life. If you wish to remain immature, that is your right.

For everyone, there comes a time when they must fish or cut bait. There is no better time than now to decide to be mature.

I leave you with some wisdom from America’s foremost business philosopher. May you heed his advice!

“You must takepersonal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, butyou can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” Jim Rohn (1930–2009)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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