I believe that accountability often gets overlooked as one of the truly important qualities that we should all display at home, in family life, and in our places of work. Instead, accountability is a word we often associate with leaders. This is because a good leader always takes responsibility for their actions and the consequences of their decisions. When you consider the full meaning of this, it is easy to see why accountability is important both for leaders and for all individuals. We all have to take accountability and be responsible for ourselves if we want to be able to see our mistakes and improve ourselves.
The importance of accountability lies in the fact that when you refuse to be held responsible for your actions or decisions, you give away your power to improve things. You should not try to shift the blame because you understand that in shifting the blame, you also shift the ability to fix things. If you don’t take accountability, you lose the power to make things right. If everything is someone else’s fault, then you are helpless. Part of why accountability is important is because it means you take ownership and in so doing, you control your outcomes- good or bad. Then you can make plans to keep improving.
Accountability In Family
Naturally, accountability is an important part of parenting as well. As parents, we are accountable for our actions and for those of our children. We may not be directly responsible for their actions but we are still accountable. This accountability is something we must teach our children to begin to own for themselves slowly as they get older because ultimately, accountability is important for all.
Accountability Example (For Parenting)
If our toddler snatched a toy that did not belong to them way from another toddler, we are accountable. We are not directly responsible as parents since we did not snatch the toy ourselves. However, we have accountability because we are responsible for teaching our child appropriate manners and social decorum. We have the responsibility to respond to the situation and help our child do the right thing and return the toy. We have to teach our child how to ask for a turn and how to say please, and sorry, and thank you. They do not know these things without being taught.
We may begin to teach a toddler the right ways to interact and respond. It is a good idea to begin to teach them about the consequences of their actions. However, they are too young to have accountability for their actions yet. We have to have developmentally appropriate behavioral expectations. But as time goes by, you have to start teaching your kids to become accountable for themselves.
If your son is in high school and you are checking each day on the school software to make sure he has done all of his assignments and you are emailing his teachers for him about his work, you probably aren’t teaching him accountability. It is a process. In kindergarten you are asking the child what their homework is and looking at them doing it and helping them if they have questions. As time goes by in elementary school, you are just asking if they have done it and if they need any help. You are transferring to them some trust as you begin to just ask instead of see it for yourself. They are learning that you will find out the truth sooner or later as you see their grades. They should be slowly learning to be more and more accountable for their actions and their decisions. This accountability at home extends outside of academics as well.
Today, I am very pleased to share some tips from JM Ryerson, on accepting accountability ourselves and these same tips can be used for teaching your child to become more accountable as well. JM Ryerson is a Performance Coach and the CEO of Let’s Go Win, a company dedicated to helping people, families, and professionals transcend in life. He is also the author of Amazon best selling book “Let’s Go Win, the Keys to Living Your Best Life”.
Steps to Becoming Accountable
by JM Ryerson. An excerpt of “Let’s Go Win, the Keys to Living Your Best Life”, D M Bass Publications (January 23, 2020). Reprinted with permission granted.
I stumbled across this quote about accountability by Shelby Martin, and it really sums up the idea perfectly: “Personal accountability requires mindfulness, acceptance, honesty, and courage.”
There will always be circumstances outside of our control. You can either complain about them or accept them.
You may think you’ve been dealt more than your fair share and have earned the right to play your victim’s card. Oprah Winfrey experienced tremendous hardship in her youth. I doubt anyone would have thought twice if she stayed in the shadows and remained a victim her entire life.
As we know, that’s not what happened.
She didn’t let circumstances out of her control dictate her life or the responsibility she had to be held accountable for her own actions. Instead, she decided not to let things outside of her control define her.
What has happened to you in life may not be your fault. However, the way you allow those events to shape you is undoubtedly up to you.
Take full responsibility for your life, and in this way, instead of life happening to you, life can start happening for you.
Maybe you have struggled with keeping your word. You can fix that. It’s really never too late. Here are the four simple steps to becoming more accountable in your life:
1. Write it down.
From the big goals to the daily chores, writing down your responsibilities is proven to be effective. Take that a step further by placing them where you can see them daily. I put my biggest goals on my bathroom mirror so I will see them at least two times a day. I have heard that New Year’s resolutions are 80 percent more likely to be kept when they are written down. Life throws us endless distractions our way. Don’t force your brain to remember it all. Just write it down.
2. Don’t overcommit.
Keep your promises realistic and straightforward. If you can’t get a task done by a specific date, don’t say you can and just expect forgiveness when you fail.
3. Give others permission to hold you accountable.
Freely empower others to hold you accountable. Give your spouse and co-workers permission to hold you to your word by saying, “Hey, please call me out on this if I don’t do what I say.” When you give somebody permission to hold you accountable, then whatever advice they provide on the topic is no longer the unsolicited (and therefore more positively received). Tell people, “I want to get better. So, please hold me accountable.”
4. Inspect what you expect.
Billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist Ray Dalio talks about the importance of “radical transparency” in his New York Time bestselling book, Principles. In his business, after every meeting, they do a critique of what they did right and what they needed to improve. How freeing would it be to be able to point it out when you see something wrong? It’s truly a game changer.
You get a fresh opportunity every day and do things a little bit better than you did the day before. Your partner, your kids, your friends, and your co-workers deserve for you to keep your word.
I don’t know anyone who enjoys letting people down by not keeping their word. Your word is the only thing that you have over which you have complete control—and you have a chance to honor it or screw it up.
When you do screw up, own it.
We should all be trying to put ourselves in the position to win. Let other people help you become more accountable and help them in return.
Accountability in family is so important for each one of us to learn so that we can take ownership and improve our lives. It is a something we can teach ourselves even if we weren’t taught it. We can step outside our comfort zone and say we know this happened and we understand the results and take responsibility without shifting the blame. Then we can make it right. Accountability is a gift we can give our children too through modeling it and helping them understand that accountability gives them power to do better.