Accountability is defined by the webster’s dictionary as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”. It is a quality that is crucial for your success in anything. It is also a key characteristics to have if you want to gain people’s trust. Managers look for it when hiring, potential partners like to know you have it before going into business with you. I am identifying here five steps you can take to be more accountable.
1. Control your thoughts. You’ve certainly heard the saying, “we become what we think about”. Well, that statement is quite true because, how we think affects how we feel, which has a great deal of influence on the actions we take. That leads to forging our character. We are defeating ourselves if you do not control the conversations that take place in our heads. We are not learning anything, when we refuse to take responsibility and our first reaction to whatever happens to us is to lay the blame on someone else. We can give a lot of reasons as to why we did not get that promotion, or hit that target, but none of that will help us make it better next time. Only taking full responsibility and learning from our mistakes can help us improve. Whining and complaining are for losers. Take charge and press ahead.
2. Stop the blame game: instead of finding fault with people, ask what you can do. No matter how tough times are, concentrate all your energy on making things better for you and other people. When you are busy doing that, you don’t have time to point fingers and say “it is your fault”. Serve the best way you can and keep your word. Always under promise and over deliver whenever it is possible, the opposite will put you in the tough spot. People are not perfect and neither are you. So cut them some slack but be firm with and discipline yourself. When you are wrong be the first one to admit it and do not make excuses. Blaming others will only make them more defensive in justifying their position. Dale Carnegie advices that “the best way to win an argument is to avoid it” and I believe it is a good point.
3. Inspire yourself. Lack of inspiration can lead to poor judgement, to avoid this, take time to learn from the best in your industry, or just in anything you would like to excel at. If you are like most people with hectic schedules, the best way I know to do this, is to turn your commute time into a learning time. Zig Ziglar used to call it the automobile university. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the average American commute time is about 48 minutes a day, Americans are behind Hungarians and Romanians in this study, the Italians being last with 30 minutes. Imagine what spending even 40 minutes a day in a car listening to motivational audios or personal development programs can do for you. In a few years of doing that you could develop some serious and solid knowledge in any area of your choosing. All it takes it to turn off the music and the news in that car and put a CD in.
4. Set up goals. To benefits from the previously mentioned steps you have to set up goals to work on. In other word you need to have a a clear direction of where you are headed to. As Brian Tracy said, you can not hit a target you can not see and when you fail to plan you are planning to fail. Setting up goals is part of any proper planning and it should force you to follow up and follow thru, and that will hone your accountability. Goals alone are not enough, as they are one leg of a three-legged stool to which you need the other two legs to be able to sit firmly on it. Those two legs are purpose and vision. Life without purpose makes much noise but leads to no progress and person without vision shall perish!
5. Evaluate your progress. This step will allow you to know if you are on the right track. Whatever decision you make or whatever action you would like to take should be preceded by the question: “will this help or hurt my goals?” if the answer is ‘yes it helps’, by all means go right ahead. However if the answer is negative, refrain from continuing until you find the right course of actions. Furthermore, you should set aside a few minutes each weekend, to mentally go over the course of that week, to see if you have done the things you said you were going to do, if you have kept the promises you have made. Evaluating your progress will help you be more accountable to yourself and answer but also it will allow you to correct any mistakes before they become too serious.