What Does Accountability Look Like?

a man and a woman arguing

We don’t think much before analyzing someone’s wrong behaviour. The hottest scandal on social media is something we chat about with our friends and folks at home. Some of us dish out “hot takes” on other people’s lives every other day.

We all have different opinions on how to live, look, and relate to others. Our experiences, upbringing, faith, and principles also shape how we view the world and judge others.

However, it’s safe to say that no one is above reproach. We can make bad decisions, stick with poor choices longer than we should, and hurt people around us with inconsiderate behaviour.

Unfortunately, few people are quick to jump and dissect their faults like they would do that of others. I guess that’s why it’s written in the good book to pay attention to the speck in your eyes before attempting to remove the log in your brother’s eyes.

Before going on a rampage next chance you get to tear down another human’s poor choice and questionable decisions, take a moment to think of how you handle your shortcomings.

A great way to learn and grow from mistakes is by practicing accountability.

What is Accountability?

Accountability involves taking responsibility for your contribution to an event, outcome, or circumstance. Being accountable for your actions and letting others hold you accountable to a certain standard can be uncomfortable. That explains why we may get defensive and attempt to push the blame on anything else but ourselves.

But, rather than running away or being defensive about a wrong call you made, it’s best to confront the issue with the willingness to examine the actions you took or didn’t take to eventually land you in a not-so-great position and hopefully learn from them.

What Does Accountability Look Like?

Practicing accountability takes some form of the following steps:

Be honest about your actions

Life happens. Sometimes, we’re not very prepared for certain circumstances and we may overestimate our abilities only to underperform. When that happens, be honest to yourself and whoever deserves an explanation. It’s tempting to focus on other variables that played into your actions.

However, being accountable means you examine every single contribution you made that eventually led to the outcome. Being as specific as possible helps you understand yourself and weaknesses. It’s also the first step towards correcting and effecting the necessary changes.

Apologize genuinely to anyone affected

Our poor choices affect people close to us, both at work, home, and anywhere we get to interact with other humans. A genuine apology isn’t just throwing an “I’m sorry” although that may be part of the process. It’s taking the time to listen to the person you’ve hurt, understanding how your actions have impacted them, and validating their feelings.

Even if you feel their reaction is beyond what you deserve, you have to acknowledge them first and apologize. They probably want to get a form of assurance from you that such action will never (or almost never) repeat itself.

Correct your mistakes

If you accidentally spill water on someone, you immediately apologize, and help them clean up. In some instances, there may be something you can do instantly to remedy the situation. Other cases may require time for you to demonstrate that you’ve learned from your mistakes and you’re willing to make better choices. Show your commitment to maintaining the peace and preserving the good relationship you have with people around you. An apology means nothing if you keep up with bad behaviour.

Take preventative measures

On the flip side, sometimes the deed is done and there’s no going back. However, going forward, you can consciously decide to limit or prevent the chances of being in a similar situation again.

If you show up late for work every day for a week and get queried for lateness, there are two ways you can handle the situation. You can either make excuses for your consistent lateness or review your morning routine to prevent your lateness from continuing.

Why Should you Practice accountable Accountability?

People are quick to mention everything wrong with society, the church, the nation, and even the next-door neighbour. You may not be entirely wrong in your lament, but how much of the situation do you have direct influence over? For the average person, my best guess is little to zero.

On the flip side, there’s something you have a level of control over. It’s your life. The way you live, your perception, and your interaction with the world around you ultimately come down to the choices you make, especially those you make repeatedly. We’re always making choices from the smallest to the loudest and most significant.

In the same vein, we control how we move forward when we make a wrong choice, upset or disappoint someone. You can choose to be defensive and avoid your responsibility or explain yourself and apologize to those who deserve to hear it from you.

Accountability and Consequences

Being accountable can earn you respect from others. People will see that you’re not afraid to admit, learn, and grow from your mistakes. However, you may not always be able to fully reconcile or salvage the situation without suffering some consequences.

If you’re a business owner who disappointed a client once or twice, you may truly demonstrate accountability and apologize genuinely, but the client may be unwilling to continue the relationship.

If you spill your best friend’s secret to a new friend and he or she finds out, they may be disappointed in you. You may demonstrate remorse when you see how much you’ve upset your friend and take responsibility for your actions. However, there’s no guarantee that the trust will be restored and the friendship will fully recover.

The same goes for not studying for a test or missing work without getting permission from your superior. Being accountable may not eliminate the consequences of your actions. However, it helps you identify your blind spots and areas where you need to improve.

You may not be able to change someone’s mind about you, but you can always change your mind about yourself.

Final Words

Accountability is applicable in any area of your life. Whether it’s your personal goals, career, family, or relationships, being accountable to yourself and the people in your life shows that you’re a person willing to learn and grow from their mistakes.

Life isn’t always cupcakes, sunshine, and rainbows. Some days, it may be your actions or inactions that make things go south. Hopefully, you have the courage and patience to work through the discomfort and become a better you.