Personal accountability is two big words that, when used together, might stir different emotions in different people. They could instill pride, fear, intimidation, self-reflection, etc. However, what people might remain aloof of is that the same two words come down to the smallest, simplest, and yet most significant actions. So what exactly is personal accountability? How can a person imbibe it? Well, in today’s blog, I’ll answer these two questions and give a glimpse of how they impact your day-to-day and larger life. Let me begin with an anecdote.
What is Personal Accountability?
A while ago, I sent some emails to yoga studios in other cities and states. The idea was to collaborate, work together, and enable healing and well-being in the community. Unfortunately, out of 30 people, only 3 responded, and therein lies the lesson of personal accountability. Whether the people are interested or not, a simple reply would have done the job.
“Hey, we’re not currently looking for collaborations. We’ll reach out to you in the future.”
“Hello, thanks for reaching out to us. We look forward to knowing more about the collaboration. Could you please tell us more?”
In this, personal accountability essentially means that the person (ideally) responds with whatever they feel/believe when it comes to collaboration. Even if they are unsure and do not know whether to collaborate, articulating it into words and letting the other party know would suffice. For instance, here’s what the 10% of the respondents had to say:
One of the emails encouraged me to check back next year. Another one said they were interested and requested to send some dates. Another email responded quickly and gave a time and date for us to talk about the event's details on the phone.
In the first case, I replied thanking them for their response and I would check back in January. In the second case, I quickly sent out the dates as requested. In the third case, I confirmed the date and time for the call. In this case, I decided to take personal accountability to further the conversation.
With the third person, the call didn’t happen; when the time came, there wasn’t any communication. So, once again, I decided to take the initiative and ask when the call could be rescheduled.
If you think about it, personal accountability meant merely responding with an answer in this scenario, even if it wasn’t definitive. This is just one example. You might stumble upon numerous situations where you have to take personal accountability.
A simpler word for personal accountability would be ownership. Ownership showcases the willingness to take responsibility for your actions instead of blaming others for theirs. In addition, it makes you more solution-oriented, and you’ll always look to getting things done instead of fretting over the scenario you’re stuck in. The mindset puts you in control and drives you to make things work.
“Do what you say and say what you do!”
Why should I take Personal Accountability? Here are some benefits you can reap by taking personal accountability.
You become more authentic, build integrity, and pave the way for healthier relationships. People begin to trust you and know they can depend on you. This is very important not only in personal relationships but in business partnerships too. Leaders who take accountability will be trusted and respected and noted as a person who keep their word. They do what they say and say as they do!
How Can I be Accountable?
Know who you are and take responsibility for your actions to resolve conflict and find solutions to get results. Remember, when you say yes to something, it is your responsibility. On the other hand, it is not rude to say no to somebody or something, especially if you know you cannot take personal accountability to see it through. So analyze the scenario, determine the best course of action, and abide by it.
Practice the Five Yamas (means "restraint" in Sanskrit which means abide by the natural laws that are given) in the Eight Limbs of Yoga and the the Ten Commandments, amongst other ancient teachings. Natural Laws are given (in our hearts) to live by. Human beings possess intrinsic values that govern their reasoning and behavior, a moral compass if you will.
The practice develops a sharing of morals, values and ethical guidelines that increases cultural convergence. Cultures will evolve over time together and flourish as they all believe and share in the same teachings. Deep down we all know what is right and what is wrong!
Satya (Truthfulness): Being truthful with yourself and others keeps you light-hearted. Not worrying about what lie you told or telling another lie to cover another lie. Before you know it, you are so wrapped up in all the lies that you no longer know what is true.
Ahimsa (Non-Harming): Do not blame others or make excuses. Take personal accountability and focus on how you can make the situation better and resolve the problem.
Asteya (Non-Stealing): This does not just apply to material items. Stealing time can harm others. When you set a date and time, show up and commit. If you cannot be personally accountable due to unforeseen circumstances, respect the other person’s time by letting them know you must cancel or reschedule.
Brahmacharya (Pure Conduct): Stay in conduct with one’s own self. Live a moral life with principles and core values.
Aparigraha (Non-Greediness & Non -Attachment): Let go of things from the past and forgive yourself and others. This will help you experience more peace and self-reliance without all the baggage.
Overall, personal accountability/ownership is about being honest with yourself, keeping your word, and ensuring that in any scenario, you take responsibility for your actions and focus on providing a solution Practicing the 5 Yamas is an approach that can help you be more accountable and enrich your life.