Have you ever noticed that when you attempt to focus on one area of your life, with an eye toward improvement, you tend to notice other areas that could use a little tightening up as well? The process of learning about and altering your behaviors, habits and reactions is a lifelong endeavor. As you become accountable to others, whether personally, professionally or both, you make changes for the better and acknowledge areas of your life that need more attention. You begin crafting a custom garment, tailored by your choices, that perfectly fits you. Getting it just right takes numerous alterations, changes in construction, attention to tiny details and many trips to the dressing room. Accountability is the muslin underpinning on which the cloak of leadership hangs.
I am writing this blog several hours after I emceed a Memorial Day Service. I, like so many others, took the Oath of Enlistment upon entering the military. But unlike many, I had the blessing of coming home. It’s one thing to take the Oath in peacetime with all of your friends and family cheering you on. It’s quite another to hold yourself accountable to the Oath when your personal life and the lives of those around you are on the line.
I have the good fortune to live my life in the manner I choose because of the ripple effects of the courageous men and women who paid the ultimate price for my freedoms. Although it’s an excellent example, don’t think that accountability is limited to the actions of past and present service members.
Many of you make decisions every day that adhere to your core values and deepest convictions and reflect your personal and professional code of conduct. There is no greater joy than standing up for what you believe in because you love it more than you love yourself.
Life’s not fair: never has been, never will be. Fairness implies a universal accountability to a mutually agreed upon standard. And that’s just not in the deck of cards called life. What I have found is that when individuals complain “It’s not fair”, what they are really saying is, “It’s not favorable to me and my biases, assumptions, and blind spots.” From here, it’s just a short trip to blame and excuse making which serves no one. So in the moment of choice, consider choosing a different path. Arguably a path less traveled, but one that will allow you to pour into others in a way that will help them to be their best selves. Choose the path of accountability.
Accountability is so tremendous because it is a complete denial of the needs of the self and a lifting up of the needs of others. It is about the manifestation of character that appears when we are dealt a difficult hand. Character that has been cultivated over a lifetime, rooted in a strong foundation of integrity and honor. Accountability is the very essence of leading as it requires the bold courage to fully accept responsibility without assigning blame. As leaders, let’s all strive to reach a level of accountability that will ripple out into our homes, workplaces and communities. Commit to being a powerful leader with a lasting legacy by committing to being an accountable one.