5 Ways to Improve Your Personal Accountability

The Bible exhorts us, “Pay careful attention to yourselves ….” We are to consider carefully the direction and management of our lives  We are accountable for our own selves.

Taking responsibility for our personal growth, emotions, relationships and decisions is the hallmark of maturity.

Yet we struggle seeing ourselves as responsible for our own effectiveness and enjoyment. Our first tendency is to excuse ourselves, to blame someone else, or the circumstances, but we must resist “shifting” and take ownership of our words, attitudes, emotions and behaviors.

The Benefits

There are some big payoffs for mastering personal accountability. Here are just a few:

  • Increased trust. People know they can depend on you, that you will keep your word. You are not subject to your emotional moods, but recognize and effectively manage them.
  • Improved leadership. Self-confidence, initiative, resiliency, and ownership of decisions and outcomes leads to greater personal and organizational effectiveness.
  • Healthier relationships. Just imagine the relational improvement if we blamed others less, admitted our mistakes, owned our wrongs, and listened more.
  • Better use of time. Procrastination is a struggle for many of us. We tend to put off a difficult assignment, or a problem that needs attention until hopefully someone else will do it, or it will somehow magically go away. Personal accountability accepts responsibility and uses “now” to address issues and solve problems.

5 Core Behaviors

Personal accountability is learned behavior. We become more accountable by practicing these behavioral skills:

  1. Honesty. Be ruthlessly committed to telling the truth no matter the cost. Such courage is foundational to personal accountability. Is there risk? Yes. But you will earn something greater – respect!
  2. Admit when you are wrong. This is corollary to honesty. Avoid excuses, justification, rationale and just say, “I was wrong.” You may fear this makes you look weak but as Amy Rees Anderson points out, admitting your are wrong is not a sign of weakness but of integrity and fortitude.
  3. Own the results of your choices. This is easy to do when the outcome is positive. But not everything turns out the way we want, expect, or hope. Sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes it’s not. Either way “it is.” Again, no excuses, just admit, “I am where I am because of the choices I’ve made.”
  4. Don’t overcommit. No is a legitimate word. If you overcommit, something will get dropped, and someone disappointed. So think carefully about your priorities and your schedule before you agree to another appointment or task.
  5. Be teachable. How do you respond to well-intentioned feedback? Are you willing and eager to receive instruction and correction? The counsel of others is invaluable to personal growth. Let those who are ahead of you on life’s journey speak wisdom into your life.

Which of the 5 Core Behaviors do you need to work on? Choose one. The one you think will make the greatest positive impact on your own life, and on those around you. What steps can you take today to implement this behavior?

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