Myths and Realities of Accountability

Accountability.

We’re all just a little sick of talking about it, aren’t we?

If I asked you, “are you an accountable person?” You’d say “yes.” If you asked me, I’d say the same. In fact, if you asked the least accountable person you know, they would likely reply in the shocked, and slightly put out, affirmative.

We all think we (ourselves) are accountable people. And we are. Sometimes. Which makes us not really that accountable overall.

Let’s talk about the myths and realities of accountability, so we can all do a synchronized slink off our collective high horse on this one.

Myth #1: Some of us are accountable (me), and some of ‘us’ aren’t (everybody else).

Reality: There is no accountability gene. We aren’t born with or without it—it can’t be recessive; you can’t be sort of “accountable,” or accountable for only some of your mindsets, words, behaviors, and actions, and not for others. 100% accountability for your own mindsets, words, behaviors, and actions is a choice. It is a lifestance, a values driven position, a moral code. It’s not simple, or easy. However, you can choose to be an accountable person. No one can screw it up for you, unless you let them (= not accountable). It’s on you.

“He made me so mad.”

No, he didn’t.

He may have acted like an a$$, but you chose to take his behavior in, roll it around in your head and heart, and spit out anger. You could have ignored it. You could have laughed at his attempt to foil your power and question your essence, but you didn’t. You chose “mad.” Own it. Do “mad” really well. You are allowed to be angry, just not to blame it on someone else. Being accountable means accepting your power to choose how you react to everything, every time.

“She makes me so happy!”

No, she doesn’t.

You choose joy in her presence. You see the best in yourself, through her eyes, and you feel happy all on your merry own. That’s beautiful! Enjoy it, love it. Own it as your own inside-out happiness.

Myth #2: We can “hold other people accountable.”

Reality: What does that even mean? Roll it off your tongue a few times. Does it make sense? No, no, it does not. If we are “holding others accountable,” then they are not accountable for themselves. We are accountable for them and their mindsets, words, behaviors, and actions. And that makes us accountable for someone else while we should be accountable for ourselves. A total copout.

Hate this? I do too. Because being truly accountable for ourselves is way harder than pretending to be accountable for another person. If your resistance-o-meter is jogging toward the red zone, read on to Myth #3 (quickly).

Holding others accountable = Not. A. Thing.

Myth #3: We can be accountable for another person’s mindsets, words, behaviors, and actions.

Reality: No, we can’t. Of course, there’s the extreme—babies, for example. The first moments I held my oldest daughter and realized it was my job to keep her alive—and dry, no less—I was like “Whoa.  This is some serious shit right here.” And yes, we’re accountable for even the mightiest of antics our offspring can dream up--and for longer than we may like. But adults? Nope. They are all on their own.

When I choose the “exit row seating,” I am accountable to do my part safely and accurately--but I am not accountable for the choices, behaviors, decisions other passengers may make. We can only be accountable for ourselves. What a relief. A big thank you to one of the many “Good Books,” for clarifying early on that I am, in fact, not my brother’s keeper. Because that would be a seriously big job, and a volunteer one at that.

Ready for another painful truth? Come closer, so I can pretend I am going to whisper this into your denying little eardrum, when I’m actually going to shout at the top of my lungs…. READY?! When we act like we’re accountable for others, we are not martyrs, we are not honorable, or tending to the humanity of our (not actual) sisters and brothers. WE ARE CONTROLLING! We are CONTROL FREAKS! We are serving our own needs, not serving others.

Want to be a great leader of people?

Stop acting like you’re “holding others accountable,” because it’s not working; they’re not developing and growing, and you’ll never be more than a middle manager of transactional tales. Model 100% Accountability for your mindsets, words, behaviors, and actions. Own the good, the bad, the bitter, and the fantastic. Be genuine, flawed, and funny about how you’re continuously improving the most complicated process of all—you. Choose accountability over control, freedom over limitation.