Accountability is something often talked about in business and expected between workers yet it is ignored by most in the rest of our lives. We do whatever we want in our independent little pieces of this world yet do a lot of complaining and arguing about all the bad things going on in the world. People fight for big items like rights and environmental issues and politics yet we don’t bother looking at how we can be more directly accountable for everyday things going on around us! I want this article to bring more attention to the little areas that we can look for with accountability and some specifics about learning to use it more often.

Things You Can Do

People have a common moral system and even though there are varying levels of it, everyone still generally knows right and wrong and knows what it takes to not hurt others. There are little things going on everyday around us that we should each be more accountable for.  It starts with being more accountable to yourself!  Here are some of the ideas that you can use to be more accountable to yourself and to others:

  • Don’t use excuses if you simply don’t want to do something. If you are asked to do something, go out, or help someone, don’t make up an excuse to make it sound like you would like to do it but just can’t because of other things or someone else. Just be honest and say that you would rather not and you have other things you want to do instead.  Its quite easy to tell when someone is making up an excuse anyway.
  • Set commitments and promises that you will make, not that you want to make. There is a big difference.  Be true to the things you say you will do and actually do them. Be accountable to yourself to ensure you meet those expectations you give to yourself and others.
  • Make a habit of setting fewer, smaller and easier goals to ensure you can actually meet them. Its good to still push yourself, just ensure you will have success to build on and practice accountability for those areas.  Getting into a habit of accountability requires these successes so help yourself out by setting some easy to meet objectives that you can focus on completing. Repeatedly missing or breaking your word for accountability will just build up more negative feelings towards it so its important to break this and learn that you can be accountable for your actions!

Be Accountable to Others

  • An accountability partner that agrees to work with you on holding on another accountable is a great start. Meet regularly to review your commitments and hold each other to them.
  • Don’t let others off the hook when they have made a commitment to you or someone else. Hold them accountable and discuss it when they let you down. Tell them that they’ve disappointed you or emphasize some other important impact their not seeing through on a commitment has caused. Ask them what they will do to correct the problem now going forward and to make a new commitment that you can again hold them accountable to.
  • Admit to others when you let them down for something you were accountable for. Kill the temptation to make excuses, give a simple apology and make a new commitment that you want to be held accountable for.  The last thing you need is to use blame to excuse your lack of commitment.  Take the blame yourself, hopefully it will impact you enough to put more effort in on your next commitment and that you’ll make good on being accountable for that.

Look for Accountability with Others

Once you begin to practice accountability it’s easier to see around us and in others as well. You may want to hold someone accountable for littering, pushing into a lineup, interrupting others, being purposefully rude or mean, not treating a child fairly. Simply letting that person know that what they did isn’t acceptable or that its disrespectful to others and you are not happy to see it occur. This is often enough to just point it out, however, you may want to ask them to make a change to avoid doing the same thing again next time. How far you take this discussion should depend on their initial response and also how comfortable you are with them or if you even know them at all. I don’t recommend doing this unless you do it in a caring way where you truly want to help and can talk to them calmly and in a positive manner. Don’t be mean or rude yourself in the discussion, especially if its a stranger as they could become angry with you since people are so accustomed to having everyone mind their own business.

Another part of accountability with others is to recognize and appreciate them when they deliver on what they are accountable for. Make sure to encourage them and show your appreciation when they complete something they were accountable for. This reinforces their behavior and also helps others to see the value in staying accountable. Accept any appreciation you receive and accept it unconditionally.

So, look for the ways you can improve your own accountability and practice it by simplifying your commitments and then carrying through on them, use others to hold you accountable and expect their help doing so, and look at ways to see accountability with others and show appreciation when you see someone complete what they were accountable for.

Make a Difference

I believe that every person can make a big impact in the world and improve it by being more accountable to themselves, to each other and by actually expecting things of others. Its important to have conversations with others about accountability instead of simply letting things that affect others go by without mention. Simple things like doing good in public, improving the way we treat others and what we expect of our friends and family can be improved by practicing more accountability and appreciation for it. What are some of the things that you notice others accountable for or would like to?



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