Are you Accountable?

When I say to be accountable, I mean accountable for everything that happens to you?  OK, before you start with statements like – I can’t be responsible for everything, just relax and consider this.  If you were really responsible for everything that happens to you, how much more power would you have to control it?  

Every day we all experience frustration in our businesses, relationships and just trying to do simple task.  There seems to be an endless stream of events and roadblocks preventing our progress.  We see bureaucratic policies, people stuck in the past, competing objectives and apathy often.   Let’s just look at work related concerns for now.  As a new manager I remember thinking if my team would just do it my way the world would be a better place.  As an experienced manager of a few months my thoughts changed to if they would just get off their butts and do something the world would be a better place. I was frustrated at work. In my personal life I went through cancer, knee replacement, heart bypass surgery….. Life was just not fair. Kind of implies that it is everyone around me causing my frustration.

Have you ever met someone that complains about everything?   There are people in most offices who constantly complain about their job, the boss, the clients or the process.  They still come to work every day ready for more.  These are the victims.  They were forced to live with it or they have no choice but to complain.  They never have any solutions or at least they are not working on a solution.

There is another group that loves to gossip, closely related to the victims.  Their favorite line starts with “ain’t it awful” or “did you hear”.  They meet every day to swap stories about how awful life is or “you think that is bad, how about this” stories.

Neither group gets any work done and they are often frustrated because they just can’t seem to do anything about the world around them.   Well what if you, and they,  changed focus just a little.  You may have to play along a little at first, until you get used to it, but what if everything that you feel or happens to you was your responsibility?  You were accountable for everything that impacts your life.   Suddenly you have the potential to change it.  Why you ask – well if you are responsible you can change it.  I told you it takes a little getting used to.  Pick an event from your life that felt unfair. Pick an event where something happened to you and you think it wasn’t your fault.  Now, tell a story about this event where you assume all responsibility for the event.  Whatever the event was, it happened because of something you did or something you allowed to happen.  Feels a little strange huh.    Even if you have no idea how you could have caused this event tell the story like you do.   Usually something strange will happen here.  Most of the people that have tried this come up with at least some level of accountability that was previously ignored.  

Once they get the first revelation the flood gates open. Here is where the magic happens.  With accountability and acceptance of responsibility you start to see solutions. Now put this thought process in a business environment.  You walk into the office and something frustrates you. You stop and look at what is causing this frustration. What have you done that contributed to this frustrating event? What can you do to resolve it?  Suddenly a solution comes to mind.  Well, what if you decided to just stay frustrated?  Probably your morning is ruined or at least starts to go downhill rapidly.

 The first time I was introduced to this thought process I was in a support group for people that had heart bypass surgery.  Not only did I see where I had some responsibility to change my lifestyle, I started to focus less on blaming the world and more on getting my life in order.  So, what if you played along with this idea that you were accountable for everything, and discovered that you had all this power.  It really is not everyone around you causing the frustration, it is you.  Even if there is no way you could change the event, you can change your response to the event.    

Now that I know that I can be accountable for my life I focus on making it positive and free from frustration.  I realized that I was carrying a huge load on my shoulders trying to fix everyone around me.  It was a big job keeping track of everyone’s faults and how they were impacting my life.  Well if it was just me, I could dump that load.  Try it, you may like it.

But wait – what about my business?  You still have all these complainers and gossipers waiting to greet you at the office.  First of all, if you are the boss those few are not going to be there the next day so you only have to deal with one day.  If you are not the boss, stay away from the complainers and gossipers and remember you are in charge of your life. Why waste your time supporting the lifestyle of the victims when you can spend that time on yourself.