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What does taking accountability mean?

Failure (in every sense of the word), while sometimes scary, is a natural part of life. Everyone experiences it at one point or another, but not everyone knows how to handle it in a healthy way.

However, not only should you view "mistakes" as an opportunity for growth and experience, but you should recognize when to take responsibility for those actions. Not every mistake is “negative” or “positive”, but your ownership of that mistake is what really matters.

Taking responsibility for your actions means acknowledging the role you play in your own life– both the good and the bad. It means holding yourself accountable for the decisions you make and realizing that you are in charge of your own course in life.

accountability: the quality or state of being accountable especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions [X]

So, while other people obviously have an influence on your life, taking accountability means accepting your own role in what’s happening, instead of looking for others to blame.

Here are some examples of accountability in action:

  • People recognize and own up to their part of what is occurring

  • If their message is hurtful to someone, they are willing to examine how their communication may have been unhealthy or damaging

  • If they feel hurt or angry, they understand it is their choice to feel that way

  • They don't blame others when they're at fault

  • They don't make excuses for why things are happening

  • They don't pawn off all the responsibility (or all the failure) onto their teams or subordinates

  • If they continually miss deadlines or essential project parameters, they don't pretend that it is all out of their control

  • If their business is failing, they don't hide their head in the sand and stay in denial - they DO something proactive about it

  • If their relationships are faltering, they're open to seeing how they are contributing to (and even exacerbating) the challenges and conflict

  • In hard discussions, they can see and understand the other person's perspective even if they vehemently disagree

  • And finally, they recognize that what is happening in their world, their lives and careers is being actively shaped by their beliefs and actions

Instead of blaming outer sources for your feelings or the things in your life, try seeing it as an opportunity. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing! It just means you have more room for growth, which is essential to our lives. Besides, putting the blame on someone else doesn’t mean the problem is gone, it simply means you’ve swept it under the rug to avoid facing it. And, sooner or later, that problem will resurface until you do something about it.

You are the captain of your own ship. And yes, sometimes things can happen that are outside of our control (health problems, natural disasters, etc.), but we can still take responsibility for how we react to those problems. Blaming causes you to be stuck, and it isn’t really helpful for moving forward!

And sometimes, it really is our fault!

A boundary we overstep, a mistake we make at work, a hurtful comment we say to someone else or simply how you chose to react to someone else's comments. You could easily blame it on your upbringing, a coworker who hindered you, time constraints, etc.– but would that really help? Would both parties leave feeling good about the situation? Would you feel good about yourself? What would happen if, instead, you owned up to your mistake, genuinely apologized, and actively worked towards becoming better in the future?

“One of the most common tendencies of human nature is that of placing responsibility on some external agency for mistakes we have made. We are forever attempting to find some scapegoat on which we cast responsibility for our actions.” - Martin Luther King Jr. [X]

It can also help to grow your self-esteem to take ownership of your decisions in life. You learn more about yourself, become a better person, develop better critical thinking skills. You learn to respect yourself, and others follow suit.

Even if that moment might be awkward or uncomfortable to be in, the long-term benefits greatly outweigh the moment of icky feelings. Not to mention, others will respect you more if you become a genuine person who takes ownership of their actions, feelings and consequences. And with their respect, yours grows in return. It also creates a stronger sense of connectedness with your peers.

It’s never too late to start living authentically and honestly. The key is a sense of self and an open, non-judgmental outlook. Z Form is here to help.

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