Accountability… Taking Responsibility of Your actions

You may have found yourself thinking that most of the misfortunes in your life are due to someone else’s fault. When faced with a problem, you may have felt you

  • PublishedSeptember 26, 2011

You may have found yourself thinking that most of the misfortunes in your life are due to someone else’s fault. When faced with a problem, you may have felt you could not do much to affect the outcome of the situation you found yourself in. If any of these statements is true of you, you need to learn the virtue of accountability as you may be limiting your capacity to lead a successful life. Accountability is defined as the quality or state of being accountable, which is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility and to account for one’s actions. It is also defined as the requirement or expectation to justify one’s actions or decisions. Two words constitute the word ‘accountability’ – ‘account’ and ‘ability’, thus it is also defined as our ability to account for why we are experiencing life the way we are in the present moment.

Accountability improves our performance, enables our relationships to f lourish and gains us respect and trust. It also makes us great examples for others to follow, and grows our self-esteem.

However, accountability is much easier said than done. That is why it is easy to blame external forces when our lives do not take the intended course. Accountability demands that we take deliberate positive action and full responsibility for the lives we lead. In order to do this, we need to discard the ‘not my fault’ attitude within us.

Todd Smith, author of ‘Little Things Matter’, says that to advance your life personally or professionally, you must hold yourself accountable for your actions, responsibilities, and goals; and it should not be someone else’s job to make sure you are doing the things you know you should be doing. He believes you should be the one to hold yourself to a high standard. He identifies three areas in which you must hold yourself accountable.

The first is in your actions and choices, which include the way you communicate with others, how you spend your time, your behaviour and manners, the consideration and respect you show others, your eating habits and exercise routine, your attitude and thoughts, and the way you respond to challenges. The second area is in your responsibilities, which may include simple tasks like returning calls, emails and texts in a timely manner, being on time for business and personal appointments, keeping your home, car, or workplace clean, spending less than you earn, doing the things you agreed to do when you agreed to do them and doing your job to the best of your ability, among others.

Last one involves remembering your goals, which may include your financial goals, family objectives, career ambitions, personal goals and any other goals you have set for yourself.

There is great power in accountability. Accountability is a choice we make everyday, whether or not we realise it. To cultivate this virtue, we need to refrain from shifting blame and giving excuses. It is up to us to work towards the betterment of our lives through accountability.


Some favourite expressions of small children: “It’s not my fault… They made me do it… I forgot.” Some favourite expressions of adults: “It’s not my job… No one told me… It couldn’t be helped.” True freedom begins and ends with personal accountability.

Dan Zadra, American author

Accountability breeds response-ability.

Stephen R. Covey, Author – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

We are accountable only to ourselves for what happens to us in our lives.

Mildred Newman, American psychologist and author

The ancient Romans had a tradition: whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: he stood under the arch.

C. Michael Armstrong, Former AT&T (American Telecommunications Company) chairman and CEO

When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.

Louis Nizer (1902-1944), Jewish-American trial lawyer

There can be no true response without responsibility; there can be no responsibility without response.

Arthur Vogel (1868–1962), German merchant, photographer and publisher

Your thoughts

I think accountability is of great importance, mainly because a man is only worth their word. I would rather work with someone who is average but can be counted on than someone who is the best but cannot be counted on. Accountability is required in many facets of our lives. At work, we are required to meet deadlines, in our relationships, we are required to be there for our loved ones, and in life we are required to help people.

Michael Onsando, 21, Writer

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