“The place we occupy in life is unimportant; the way we fill the place is everything”-Russell H. Conwell, Every Man His Own University

It seems to me these days that the virtue of accountability has been lost. Is it me or have you noticed it too? Merriam-Webster defines accountability as: the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions. This definition just doesn’t do it for me. It seems too lenient; especially when speaking in terms of reputation and relationships.

It is in my opinion that the definition of accountability lies within or around doing what you say and saying what you mean. It’s essentially a verbal contract or commitment that is signed with not your signature but with your reputation. To that effect, accountability must be delivered consistently and valued as your most precious responsibility. Being accountable sometimes and/or to some and not all is not being accountable, it’s being selective. If you say you will do something, you should do it and if you can’t deliver on the commitment, it is also your responsibility to communicate the reasons why along with an explanation of how you plan to rectify the terms of the agreement. 

“Since we must live in society and must depend on the opinions of others, there is nothing to be gained by neglecting your reputation.”-Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

The biggest concern with lacking accountability is that you are almost always letting someone else down and losing trust all at the same time. When you provide a reasonable, agreed upon expectation to another person; personal responsibility has to kick in. There is no exception to this rule! With that, I think it’s reasonable to draw the conclusion that those lacking accountability also lack emotional intelligence; which we know as the ability to recognize one's own and other people's emotions.

To be accountable you must also learn to eliminate procrastination completely. Procrastination is not a quality that garnishes much respect in any circle of life. In fact, procrastination is one of the easiest ways to ruin your reputation both in your personal life and in the workplace. One way to rid yourself of the habit of procrastination is to replace it with initiative. As you develop the habit of initiative, it is sometimes useful to find and hold in your mind some inspirational or motivational factor(s) that help you build your momentum. The goal here is to discipline yourself enough to carry out each and every task that needs to be done, when it needs to be. In other words, “Just Do It.”

“The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for one thing, and that is initiative. What is initiative? It is doing the right thing without being told. But next to doing the right thing without being told is to do it when you are told once.”-Elbert Hubbard

Below are some quick tips to help break the habit and/or start to develop accountability:

  • Take pride in yourself, your word and everything you do!
  • Do something each day that is on your “to do” list.
  • Try your best to break your habitual patterns.
  • Set goals, write them down and tell someone.
  • Ask for help.

A great philosopher once said: “Initiative is the pass key that opens the door to opportunity.” I’d add, “Accountability is what keeps it open.”

Keep an eye out for “Hitting the Reset Button Part 2!” and view Part 1 here