”A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” John Burroughs
A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference where I was able to both present and attend sessions – the best kind of speaking gig! As a student I was challenged to examine old ways of thinking and I trust I had the same effect on those who attended my session. Interestingly enough, I found that in each session, and in conversations with other attendees later on, I kept coming back to a central theme, the theme of Accountability.
Now, I personally feel that accountability has gotten a bad rap over the years. Accountability is not synonymous with blame. Blame is an outward action – how can I best deflect this to be sure it doesn’t spill over on me? Accountability is just the opposite – an inward focus. Accountability asks, what actions can I take to improve this situation? It means that we hold something in such high regard that we will give our very best to ensure success.
I recently read that our Western culture is the only one that blames, rather than honors, our ancestors. It has become the easy way out to blame our parents, who either ignored us or coddled us, pushed us or held us back, set bad examples, abandoned or over-protected us. While I think it is wise to examine our parent’s behavior – or anyone else who may have had an impact on our personal development – it should not be used as a way to avoid taking responsibility for our own lives, for holding ourselves accountable.
I am sure that you have met the individual who is forever stuck in the victim cycle, recounting in vivid detail the evils done to them, the litany of misdeeds, the reasons why they are unable to live the life they were meant to live. Not a very attractive picture is it? Sadly, they have handed over control of their life to the person or persons who perpetrated this great injustice on them. Did you hear me? They have handed over control of their life …. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you a victim without your permission.”
Accountability challenges us to hold our lives in such high regard that we will not hand over that control to another. This is not to say that our hurts are not real, that injuries were not unjust, that sometimes outcomes were just not fair. But we can take steps to be sure that we do not give away our power to heal and to rise above our circumstances and live that life we were meant to live.
Imagine a world where every individual took personal responsibility for themselves and for their actions. Instead of looking for ways to deflect – an outward action – we constantly looked inward to see how we could improve the situation. I picture a kinder world – one where we could pull together instead of splitting apart!
Pattie Vargas, Principal and Founder, The Vargas Group, is a frequent conference speaker on the topics of change management, organizational development, personal resilience and issues facing women in the workplace. As a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker, she provides seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching to move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals. Proprietary Communication 2016